Cyril Childs (1941-2012), a cricketer, scientist, leading haiku poet and editor of national haiku anthologies died recently aged 70. Childs had an international reputation in the haiku field.

His influence and encouragement of other haiku poets in New Zealand was considerable and, in Bravado 3 (November 2004), Childs wrote an article offering a new definition of the form and exploring the development of haiku and its evolution.

In 1993, he edited the New Zealand Haiku Anthology for the NZ Poetry Society and in 1998 brought out its sequel, The Second New Zealand Haiku Anthology, again for the NZ Poetry Society. With Joanna Preston, he co-edited the Christchurch haiku and haibun collection, Listening to the Rain (2002), and contributed to The Taste of Nashi: New Zealand Haiku (2008).

Fellow poet and friend Sandra Simpson wrote in tribute of Cyril: ‘Thanks to his efforts in editing and publishing the first and second New Zealand Haiku Anthologies … the haiku community in this country not only began to coalesce, but to flourish to the point where several Kiwi writers – Cyril included – are recognised internationally.’

He also wrote in other poetic forms like free verse. His poetry appeared widely in international magazines and anthologies such as contemporary haibun online, Modern Haiku, Frogpond and Wind Over Water: an anthology of haiku and tanka and in New Zealand journals, including Poetry NZ, JAAM, Kokako, CommonTatta and Bravado. His book reviews appeared in JAAM, New Zealand Books and on the NZ Poetry Society website.

In 2000, Childs self-published the autobiographical collection, Paper Lanterns: A Journey with Cancer, detailing his (and his first wife Vivienne’s) experiences in prose, free verse and haiku. Vivienne died from the disease in 1997.

Childs had a keen interest in sports such as rugby and cricket and in 2010 appeared in the cricket poetry anthology A Tingling Catch: A Century of New Zealand Cricket Poems 1864-2009. An article on Childs’ cricket haiku appears on Mark Pirie’s Tingling Catch blog. Childs also contributed a Second World War cricket poem by Jack Gallichan (brother of New Zealand cricketer Norm Gallichan) to the weblog.

Childs, himself a promising cricketer, played as a right-hand batsman and leg break bowler for Otago Under 20s in 1960/61 in the Brabin Tournament and in 1961/62 in the Rothman’s U23 tournament as well as representing Southland against Fiji at Queen’s Park, Invercargill, that same season. Childs was also a Double Blue at the University of Otago (rugby/cricket).

Childs’ numerous science publications since the 1970s concerned New Zealand soil mineralogy for the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research in Wellington as well as other work on thermodynamics, palaeobotany and palaeoecology.

Childs was living in Port Chalmers near Dunedin at the time of his death. He is survived by his son Norris, his daughter Lia and his second wife Christine.

PANZA offers their condolences to Cyril’s friends and family at this time.

Other links on Cyril Childs:

NZ Poetry Society Memorial in memory of Cyril Childs (1941-2012)

Sandra Simpson’s funeral address for Cyril Childs:

Australian Haiku Society:

Tingling Catch tribute to Cyril Childs:

Cricket Archive player page for Cyril Childs: