Svetlana Marisova

March 17, 1990 - September 7, 2011

Svetlana Marisova was born the only child of a family who knew social and religious persecution in post-Soviet Russia.  The family moved to New Zealand in 2004.  In her later teens she responded to a perceived call to the cloistered life of contemplative prayer. A diagnosis of terminal brain cancer in late 2009 curtailed the way she was able to live out this vocation. 

Over the remaining two years of her life she wrapped her past and present in even greater cloistered mystery while she tried to come to terms with her future.  Fascinated by language as much as she was by the interior silence of contemplation, she gravitated to the combination of both that she could find in writing haiku.  In a similar paradoxical manner she hid herself from the world while she reached out  to it through the anonymity of human interaction via the social networking complexities of the internet.  In cyber-companionship with Ted van Zutphen she worked out her identity as girl/woman, nun/social butterfly, contemplative/wordsmith as together they wrote and studied haiku via digital communications.

Her work has appeared in Contemporary Haibun OnlineContemporary Haibun vol.12Haiga OnlinehaijinxNotes from the GeanSimply HaikuFrogpondMainichi Daily News, Haiku Society of America haiku wall in Bend, Oregon, and Gong (Association Francophone de Haiku). Articles about her work have appeared in Simply HaikuGong, and Haiku Reality. Some of her poems have been included posthumously in the anthologies, The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss, and Change [edited by Robert Epstein] (Modern English Tanka Press, 2012); We Are All Japan [edited by Robert D. Wilson and Sasa Vazic] (2012); and Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Volume 4 (2012).

Some of her writings are available on her blog at and on, that she created as a repository for haiku in collaboration with Ted van Zutphen.  Both sites continue to be maintained by her friends.

Awards and Other Honors: First Place, Shiki Kukai 9th Annual Poets’ Choice Awards (2011); Honorable Mention, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational (2011).

Books Published: Be Still and Know by Svetlana Marisova and Ted van Zutphen (Karakia Press, 2012); Language and Silence by Svetlana Marisova (Karakia Press, 2014).


A selection of her haiku.