On water ….

I wanted to share this haiku which is published in The British Haiku Society’s member’s anthology 2022 (entitled Water). What intrigues me is the way the poem exudes calm. The only thing that disturbs the natural scene is the passing ship, and even then it’s just that ‘v’ of white water, no sound of engines or churning of waves. I imagine a cruise liner heading towards the horizon, and there’s distance- the sea is immense, the ship, in contrast, is getting smaller. The poem is haunted by the sound of the sea, even though there’s no mention of it – it’s in all the repeated ‘s’ sounds. Then there’s the word ‘wake’, which despite its primary meaning in the context of this poem, carries connotations of funerals and death. This makes me look again at the word ‘returns’ – it’s so powerful. Somehow, without referring to it in any way, this poem suggests, subliminally, a burial at sea. I realise this isn’t perhaps what Andrew Shimield intended, but it’s a wonderful thing when a poem takes off in the reader’s head in this way. I hope it does the same for you.

Coastal Visions

Here’s a beautifully produced A4 book of haiku and glass art which is an absolute bargain at £7.99 plus p&p.

I’ve chosen a couple of haiku below to give a flavour of the book, so I hope it tempts you. The photographs are clear and luminous, as if a bit of the coastal light has been captured on every page.

Coastal Visions is published by the British Haiku Society and is available from Ian Storr.


falling leaves

It was great to attend the British Haiku Society’s winter gathering yesterday, with members on zoom sharing photographs of a place that was special to them, along with an accompanying photograph. I’ve since turned mine (above) into a photo haiku so I could share it on the blog. The place is Hebden Bridge, or to be more specific, a tiny hamlet on the hills above the town. The photograph was taken about a month ago and shows the trees clinging to the hillside, just on the edge of the tree line really – there’s not a lot else after this wood but farm tracks and moorland. The soil is so thin it makes you wonder how the trees manage to cling on. Anyway, it was a fairly cold blustery walk that day, but beautiful all the same.

The BHS meeting also included a virtual ginko, using time lapse films to inspire us to write some haiku. This was a bit daunting as I suddenly felt under pressure to produce a poem that was worth sharing. However, I can highly recommend Daisuke Shimizu’s timelapse film of Fukushima if you want to do a virtual ginko of your own. And maybe a bit of pressure on the writing process is no bad thing. I managed to get three haiku from the session, none of them jaw-dropping, but I enjoyed the process. Here’s the only one I’ve processed, using a still from Shimizu’s film.

Image by Daisuke Shimizu

Blithe Spirit

I’m thrilled to have some haiku in the current edition of Blithe Spirit, the British Haiku Society’s journal, and even more thrilled to find my good friend and fellow poet, Marion New, published in the same magazine. In fact, it was Marion who put me on to this journal (somehow I felt it might not be for me – how wrong I was).
During lockdown, our local poetry group didn’t really meet up, so my contact with other poets in my area hasn’t been as frequent as it normally would have been. Plus, I’ve sort of defected to the haiku camp – I don’t write much in other forms at the moment, or read them for that matter. Having said that, I don’t feel it’s narrowed my field of vision, quite the opposite. It’s led me to discover new magazines like the one above, and my other UK favourite, Presence. And then there are all those fantastic American journals, many of which are online or publish a selection from their current issue online. I’ve been lucky enough to have two poems published in these this year. It’s not the reason I write, but acceptance does help keep the momentum.
I wanted to showcase Marion’s poem, but as the journal has only just come out, I’ll hold fire on that one. Instead, here’s another poem that she had published in Blithe Spirit earlier this year. It’s a lovely example of what can be done in a poem by ‘not seeing’. The tree is bare, no leaves or berries. The winter sun provides both warmth and colour. The reader conjures the rest. So, I’ll leave you with her poem, an image of hope in what seemed, this year, to be a very long winter.

the rowan tree glows
without leaves or berries
winter sunrise