holding on …

Well, I’ve managed a post a day for the entire month – and it’s been a great way to focus on my poetry. Lots more to look forward to but I’m going to ease off the blog and get to grips with writing, reviewing and of course learning the guitar. I’ll sign off for now with the above poem by Joanna Ashwell, published in last November’s Blithe Spirit. What a wonderful haiku!

Deadlines …

I’m not sure if writing haiku and meeting deadlines sit well together, but a few competitions close tomorrow: Presence’s ‘Martin Lucas Haiku Award’, The British Haiku Society Awards (3 separate awards – haiku, haibun and tanka) and the Snapshot Press Haiku Calendar competition. Needless to say, I’m at the last push up. I’d hoped to get a submission together for the BHS competition, and I have in a way, except that having reread it earlier this evening, there might be a couple of last minute substitutions. So, I’m off to have another look at it now (knowing full well it’s not a good idea to tinker with these things at the last minute)!

The bearable lightness of walking – with Dave Bonta

I feel like I’ve been walking with Dave Bonta for quite a while, and what a lovely experience it is. New scenery. New forms of writing. I’m particularly interested in what he said yesterday about lightness in walking – both literally and metaphorically:

‘Freely wandering in a literal sense tends to free up the mind as well, and first and foremost, I think, it has to be fun. When I am in the zone, noticing things, snapping photos and jotting down ideas, it helps that I’m not sweating profusely and gasping for breath. So the ultralight shoes I wear, for example, make walking an altogether more enjoyable experience, a fact that was brought home to me two months ago when I bought a heavy pair of work boots and took them for a walk to break them in. Going up any kind of hill became an unexpected chore, and I ended up not enjoying the hike nearly as much as I usually do, even though this is exactly the sort of footwear I used to live in, back when I didn’t spend at least four hours outdoors every day.’

Now, walking boots are a bit of a thing with me. For years I’ve worn, and worn out, Scarpa boots. At the higher end of the price range, you might expect them to last a bit longer. I love the fit, but they really are quite expensive, and I do wear them most days so they get a lot of wear. In short, they don’t last long enough! My current pair have pretty much collapsed and I’ve held off replacing them due to the cost. In the meantime, I’m wearing a pair of Clarks Gore-tex lined walking trainers, and yes, Dave, they’re light, not just in terms of weight but in shape too. A good streamlined sole, not chunky but with enough grip to see me over the fields. Sadly, they don’t have the ankle-support that boots provide, but they have put a spring in my step! So, here’s to lightness!

Chalk on the walk – with Bill Waters

I’m reposting this from Bill Waters, whose haiku I always enjoy receiving via my inbox:

‘Chalk on the Walk Haiku is a Facebook / real-world initiative of Sherry Grant and her daughter Zoe — each an internationally published poet — to get people from all over the world to write and share haiku.’

Last week one of Bill’s poems got the chalk treatment right in front of their home in New Zealand.

More information about Chalk on the Walk Haiku –> https://www.facebook.com/groups/817136345666772.

Thanks for alerting me to this Bill. It’s such a lovely way of sharing poetry and making it accessible.

the guitar in the corner …

Thank you Matthew Paul for reminding me about The Iron Book of British Haiku. You can read his very detailed and engaging post about this book here – a real insider’s account of how this book came together. I’ve featured the poem on the back cover (above) as a gentle reminder to myself to get back to the guitar! It’s been a marathon month of blogging, and it’s really helped me focus on the poetry, but I’m well aware that it has also taken up some of the time I would normally have spent practising the guitar. My aim was to post every day in January, and we’re almost at the end of the month, so February should be, by rights, a month where I pick up the guitar every day. Let’s see how that pans out!

Human impulse?

I mentioned the above anthology yesterday, although on reflection I think I misread or misrepresented the poem I quoted (although I love it all the same). I think what I wanted was a haiku with a more psychological angle. So, I’m looking at poems such as this by Rebecca Lilly, which I found in a back issue of Blithe Spirit, 32.1, in the Why I Write section:

At dusk crows confer

in cornfield stubble –

my troubled thoughts

And here’s what Lilly says: ‘It’s a philosophical moment of reflection … all the losses – evoked by the flat, empty field, and the crows conferring at day’s end – that prompt a more inclusive considering of the value of loss in life’. I like the scope of this so it’s no surprise that a haiku I wrote this evening also includes the idea of loss …

Human interest

By George Swede

I’m considering haiku with what could loosely be termed a human interest for the next meeting of the Yorks and Lancs haiku society. I love this one by George Swede, which I found in an essay by Ken Jones in the British Haiku Society’s critical writing anthology, A Silver Tapestry, although clearly it first appeared in Frogpond. I can picture the context of the poem so clearly, without anything being said directly. In fact, I can ‘read’ both the scene and the relationship that occupies it. Wonderful!

Currently reading…

Not sure what to make of this one … unsettling yet compelling. I’m about half way through and there is some fascinating writing, especially when Mishima explores the innermost thoughts and compulsions of his main characters. The psychological terrain he charts works like another narrative, another novel almost. I think it’s that aspect I’m enjoying most of all.

Yukio Mishima, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea (Vintage, 1999) first published 1963.

Silent reading retreat

Every month or so, I book onto a local ‘silent reading retreat’, which runs as follows (and is a bargain at £5):

2 hours, 7- 9 pm
Drop in when it suits – don’t knock, just come in (I pre-book so Kirsty, the host, knows who to expect)
Choose a seat – anywhere with a bookmark
Text to order your drink (subsequent drinks are free, plus a slice of cake thrown in)
Enjoy the ambient playlist and cosy atmosphere

‘In short,’ says Kirsty, ‘it’s just like a normal cafe … but without the noise’.

Now, I’ll be honest, my husband thinks all this is bonkers, and that you could do the same thing at home for free. However, there’s something about pre-booking, making a space for reading, making the effort to show up with your book (although her bookshelves are well stocked), being sociable enough to give a quiet nod to the others without being distracted by conversation … well, you get the picture. Anyway, that’s where I’m off to tonight. And 3 Watering Place Road, Thurlstone, (Shefield, S.Yorks) is also a very comfortable Airbnb if anyone’s interested!