Online internet courses by With Words

Are you interested in a With Words course? We run courses on haiku (beginner and intermediate, and advanced). We also run workshops and courses on tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email karen@withwords.org.uk if you would like to know more about these and our other courses.

With Words (Alan & Karen)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The online intermediate haiku course starts February 2017

New!

The online intermediate haiku course for starting 2017 off with a bang!  






The online intermediate haiku course

This haiku course for up to six participants is suitable for those with experience of either creative writing or haiku already. Participants have three sessions over two months where they submit three poems each time (total 9 poems).  In the second and third submissions there is also an opportunity to submit a rewritten poem for further comment.  The course ends with an optional 20 minute phone or Skype chat with Alan to answer any outstanding questions about haiku in general or the student's work.

LEVEL:  intermediate; improvers.
GROUP SIZE: up to 6.
START DATE (for receipt of materials):  Thursday 2nd February 2017

FULL COST: £95 or US$125 
EARLY BIRD COST: £80 or US$105 (if paying by Thursday 26th January 2017)

BOOKING: your place is confirmed by your payment via PayPal to alan@withwords.org.uk.



***

Also available throughout each year is:
One to One Individual feedback Service.

Feedback on your haiku on a one-to-one basis at any time, minimum total booking ninety minutes which can be spread over a period of submissions.

If you wish to book a block of hours (for instance for help with editing/creating a collection) then price reductions start with four hour bookings.


Collections with themes:
Themocracy: The Themocrats and their Concept Albums
Four book reviews by Alan Summers of writers who weave theme: http://haikureality.theartofhaiku.com/bookrew69.htm 



Call of the Page, formerly known as With Words, will be starting more of its 2017 range of courses based around haiku and related genres later in the New Year/Spring.

Call of the Page, formerly known as With Words.
We have been running online courses in haiku (and related genres) since June 2009, and day schools and residential in-person courses at various venues since 1999. 

Alan regularly has participants on his courses from around the world including USA; Canada; New Zealand; Australia; Singapore; Europe; U.K.; India etc…

"Thank you for your feed back. You make things seem so clear ...  So enjoyed reading the others' work too."  MB

"I have enjoyed the course tremendously and know that I will return to Alan's notes frequently as I continue to write tanka."  J

This course has been a really great experience for me. I have absorbed all the feedback and it has had an important impact on my writing.  I agree with everything Alan has said regarding my haiku and it is amazing that Alan has put his finger on every little shade and "flaw" of my haiku in such a detailed way.”  ML

“Trying to distil very personal moments and memories into a few lines is something I have never attempted before, in fact never thought of before - and for that I thank you.”  AS

“Hi Alan - thanks so much for this … I really had no idea there was so much to this art, and I'm completely fascinated. Your comments are extremely perceptive.”  MK




Alan Summers: Bio

Alan is Lead Tutor of the new organization Call of the Page, an international provider of literature, education and literacy projects, formerly known as With Words.

Just this January (2017) he became the new President of UHTS:









































For a more extensive biography see:
http://area17.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/happy-new-year-and-brand-new-honour.html

His latest book Writing Poetry: The Haiku Way is due out later in 2017.


__________________________



Thursday, January 05, 2017

Snow haiku by Alan Summers (South West England, Britain/U.K) produced and performed by Steve Hodge (White Lake, Michigan USA)

Alan Summers Snow.mov
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B35Wvn__tCjsNlk0ZDJmRWprSW8/view?usp=drive_web


An MP4 Quicktime Movie of a video Steve Hodge produced made up of snow haiku by Alan Summers. The piano performance is also by Steve Hodge. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B35Wvn__tCjsNlk0ZDJmRWprSW8/view?usp=drive_web

Steve says: 

The routes I usually walk, or ride my bike on, are too snow-covered and icy for me to safely use here in Michigan until March, so I often take the time to create projects such as this at this time of year. 

The music in the attached video is my performance of a lullaby composed by Friedrich Burgmuller in 1858, which is in the public domain. 

The descending phrases heard beneath the melody throughout the piece have always put me in mind of falling snow. 

You can read some of Steve's wonderful haiku, including ones about snow, at this weblink: http://livinghaikuanthology.com/poet-portfolios/373-h-poets/hodge,-steve.html

Steve Hodge is the editor of Prune Juice magazine: https://prunejuice.wordpress.com/about/

Monday, January 02, 2017

Cattails, the magazine of haiku, senryu, tanka, and haibun is looking for submissions from British and Irish writers, and from all over the world








Cattails is the global online journal of the United Haiku and Tanka Society.

We welcome new and old writers from all over the world!

As the incoming President of the society, and being British, I've noticed that we don't have as many fine English; Welsh; Scottish; and Irish writers from the U.K. and Eire.

So come all, and make our magazine even bigger and better than ever!

There will be 2 issues of cattails in 2017

Spring: (mid-April

Autumn/Fall: (mid-September)

Submissions for Spring/April issue opened

1st January Midnight GMT 
and closes: 
15th February Midnight GMT.

The first Issue of cattails will appear mid-April 2017.

Submission details for the Autumn issue will be given in the April issue.

More details on 'How to submit page'

http://unitedhaikuandtankasociety.com/submituhts.html


Enjoy the current issue of Cattails which includes haiku; tanka; haibun and much more!
http://www.unitedhaikuandtankasociety.com/haiku163intro.html


Alan Summers
President, United Haiku and Tanka Society
http://www.unitedhaikuandtankasociety.com/biographies.html
http://area17.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/happy-new-year-and-brand-new-honour.html

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year - and a brand new honour! Alan Summers, President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society









































United Haiku and Tanka Society weblink:
http://unitedhaikuandtankasociety.com/biographies.html

More details about the UHTS:
http://unitedhaikuandtankasociety.com/submituhts.html


For those who know me, or have yet to meet me in person or online, here is my longer biography:

Alan Summers, England, U.K. has been involved in haikai literature (haiku; senryu; haibun; renku; haiga and shahai), and tanka, for over a quarter of a century.  He is a double Japan Times award-winning writer; recipient of a Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto Peace Museum Award for haiku (1998); and a Pushcart Prize nominated poet.  

In September 2015 he was filmed by NHK TV of Japan for Europe meets Japan - Alan's Haiku Journey. He also holds a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University (U.K.), and a Diploma for Creative Writing from the University of Bristol (U.K.)

See also Alan’s December 2016 interview with Sonic Boom magazine talking about his background; “the stiletto of poetry”; and the white paintings of haiku:

From 1998 to 2000, he was General Secretary of the British Haiku Society, and from 2000-2005 he was on the panel of editors for The Red Moon Anthologies of English-Language Haiku. He has been an editor for a number of groundbreaking online haikai literature magazines: This includes being a founding editor for Haijinx (humor in haiku), and a founding editor, and now editor emeritus, of Bones Journal.  He was Linked Verses Editor for Notes from the Gean, and has been the Special Feature Editor for the award-winning Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts.

Alan Summers has been an essayist, article writer, critic, international competition judge, as well as co-editor of a number of haiku and short verse anthologies. 

His time as a TEDx speaker for Amazement of the ordinary- life through a haiku lens can be watched here:



Various essays and articles include:

Haiku: The Art of Implication over Explication

More than One Fold in the Paper: Kire, kigo and the meaning of vertical axis by Alan Summers (New Zealand Poetry Society, April 2016) accessible via: 


575haiku - Traditional Haiku as three lines and in a 5-7-5 English language syllables pattern

Travelling the single line of haiku:

The Reader as Second Verse

Black dogs and afternoon rain:

Themocracy: The Themocrats and their Concept Albums
Four book reviews by Alan Summers of writers who weave theme:

The Golden Carousel of Life:  Senryu, An Application to be a) human
Failed Haiku, A Journal of English Senryu

He has been a mentor for over two decades, and runs the With Words online courses in haiku and related genres.  From 2017 he will be involved in the Call of the Page online courses; day workshops; one-to-one and residential courses; as well as taking haiku to the road.

He has regularly been involved in both traditional  and innovative readings; haiku and renga residencies; as well as edgy live events. 

For example, as attraction host & organiser at the Royal Festival Hall, in London’s Southbank, with Japan-UK 150, in September 2008, as part of the Giant Japanese Jamboree at the Mayor’s Thames Festival - which attracts around half a million visitors - in September 2008, running multiple one-to-one workshops while launching the With Words Haiku Journal notebooks. 

As the Embassy of Japan’s roving Haiku & Renga poet-in-residence for Japan-UK 150 throughout 2009 he also ran various related activities from train stations to other public spaces.  This included improvisational renga for The Fragmented Orchestra at the Watershed Media Centre, Bristol, with the passing public outside on the street (February 2009) and running two senku (1000 verse renga events) in two different cities from the South to the North of England:

In partnership with Bath Libraries (South West England, U.K.) for The 1000 Verse Renga Project (September to November 2009) becoming part of the BBC Poetry Season; followed by a triple senku renga In partnership with Hull Libraries U.K. along with The James Reckitt Library Trust and Larkin25 Festival.

In other years he has been Poet-in-Residence in various places such as at Bath Spa University (Autumn 2006 – Summer 2007) where he was involved with a number of haiku & renga workshops hired by ambidextrous, a new organisation being developed as part of a BA program for freshers.   Other activities were The 24 hour haiku answerphone and The POW Festival with haiku walls, along with another student society called Play on Words Productions, with videos made by Ambidextrous and Soft C, to encourage current and future Bath Spa University students.

He was also jointly a haiku poet-in-Residence creating Britain’s only haiku café as mentioned in the Lonely Planet's Guide to Great Britain (Spring 2006 – Autumn 2006) which also involved a ginko for deaf poets, and haiku, tanka, and renga workshops and theatre performances with the Deaf Community. Other live events have included Antony Gormley’s One & Other Fourth Plinth event in conjunction with SkyArts in Trafalgar Square, London, (July 2009).

Alan has often been involved in public art from hanging thousands of haiku on trees and bushes and along streets to having verses cut into linocuts; laser cut onto DuPont™ Corian®; or into CorTen steel along the London Road into the City of Bath: http://wordsonthea4.blogspot.co.uk 

He has twice been a featured haiku poet at Cornell University, Mann Library, USA, and been the World Monuments Fund (New York City) haiku contest judge; Guest Judge for The International Academic Forum Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award 2016 and many other competitions. 

Other organisations that have offered his teaching are as Visiting Tutor for the British nationally acclaimed The Poetry School (Spring 2007 & 2008); and a regular Teaching artist at the Poetry Barn based in the Hudson Valley, just outside New York City USA.

Alan will also be running the Call of the Page online classes with his wife Karen Hoy throughout 2017, including the popular intermediate haiku course group courses, plus tanka; haibun; tanka prose/tanka story group courses; and one-to-one individual feedback in various related genres. 

"Astonishingly moving haiku" 
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (Japan) January 2005

"Widely known haiku poet...as dry as vintage champagne"
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (14 million readers in Japan) 
16th September 2002 (planned for publication on my birthday) 

His work has regularly appeared in over one hundred anthologies including leading ones around the haiku genre:

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years ed. Jim Kacian, Allan Burns & Philip Rowland 
(W. W. Norton 2013)
The New English Verse: An International Anthology of Poetry ed. Suzie Palmer (Cyberwit 2017)
Haiku 2014; Haiku 2015; and Haiku 2016 ed. Scott Metz & Lee Gurga (Modern Haiku Press)
The Disjunctive Dragonfly, a New Approach to English-Language Haiku ed. Richard Gilbert
(Red Moon Press 2012)
A Vast Sky, An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku ed. by Bruce Ross; Koko Kato; Dietmar Tauchner; and Patricia Prime (Tancho Press 2015)
Journeys 2015 - An Anthology of International Haibun 
ed. Dr Angelee Deodhar
naad anunaad: an anthology of contemporary international haiku 
ed. Shloka Shankar, Sanjuktaa Asopa, Kala Ramesh (India, 2016)
The Humours of Haiku ed. David Cobb (Iron Press 2012)
Stepping Stones:  a way into haiku ed. Martin Lucas (British Haiku Society, 2007)
The New Haiku 
ed. John Barlow & Martin Lucas (Snapshot Press, 2001).
Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku 
ed. John Barlow & Matthew Paul (2008)
Iron Book of British Haiku 
ed. David Cobb and Martin Lucas (Iron Press 1998, Third print 2000)
Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac 
ed. William Higginson  (Kodansha International, Japan,1996)

As co-editor of five Haiku-based Anthologies: Parade of Life: Poems inspired by Japanese Prints ISBN: 09539234-2-8  (Poetry Can/Bristol Museum and Art Gallery/Japan21/Embassy of Japan 2002); The Poetic Image - Haiku and Photography (Birmingham Words/ National Academy of Writing Pamphlet 2006); Fifty-Seven Damn Good Haiku by a Bunch of Our Friends published by Press Here ISBN 978-1-878798-31-2  (2010 USA); Four Virtual Haiku Poets (YTBN Press 2012); and c.2.2. an anthology of short-verse poetry and haiku (YTBN Press 2013).

Four haiku collections: Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012); The In-Between Season (With Words Pamphlet Series 2012); Sundog Haiku Journal: an Australian Year (Sunfast Press 1997 reprinted 1998); Moonlighting British Haiku Society Pamphlet (1996).

His latest book Writing Poetry: The Haiku Way is due out in 2017.

“I am incredibly excited and greatly honored to have been asked as the next President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society. I certainly want to embrace and encourage the society to continue to grow and develop its inclusive welcomeness to poets all around the world.”


Alan Summers







Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Travelling the single line of haiku - one line haiku / monoku / monostich































Travelling the single line of haiku

For more on one line haiku see also travelling the monorail - one line haiku:

It’s been said that if you are looking to write a one-line haiku that they work best when they cannot be remade into the more conventional three line haiku. I’m not sure that’s always the case, but it’s a useful guideline. Sometimes one-line haiku appear to be a little subversive. So if they are too smooth is it veering too close to a headline you’d pick up in a newspaper? Should it be just a line of poetry complete in itself?

How do one line haiku in English build up so the reader has a whole poem to hang onto? As well as guest poets elsewhere, I will use examples from this anthology:




Yanty’s Butterfly: Haiku Nook Anthology
ed. Jacob Salzer and the Nook Editorial Staff (2016)
ISBN-10: 1329915410  ISBN-13: 978-1329915411

So what happens with a one-line haiku that has one horizontal line instead of three? One-line haiku can appear in various guises, needing to contain some aspects of the gaps between fragmentary sections of haiku that we see in the three line versions. Above all, it’s the invisible text, the not-said, the unsaid, the gaps where no text is apparent that counts as much as the words that we see. Even if a reader does not consciously read into those spaces, those white echoes of non-text can act as a catalyst for the reader to go a little deeper into the poem.

Here are just a few of the selected one-line haiku from the anthology, and some  invited guests. Enjoy working out the different approaches, the tricks where nouns are verbs or vice versa or both, where meanings are like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, taking you down a rabbit hole far far away from a hot English Summer picnic of a day, or Dorothy’s Oz, where her silver shoes (the book) or ruby slippers (the movie) take you somewhere that is no longer Kansas.



a cold moon secrets of the gallows

Yanty Tjiam (1981–2015)

The word secrets is a noun, but it could also read, misread, or double-read as a verb, not just a noun (i.e. a cold moon secrets as in hides or stashes away something of the gallows? Cold moon makes this a winter season verse in traditional haiku.)



snailish motion the grey clouds my heart

Fei Zhan

Yanty’s brother brings in a poetic line with snailish, (such a wonderful word), and it becomes an adjective with ‘snailish motion’ so that grey clouds move slowly, even sluggishly. Fei Zhan decides to imaginatively replace the oft used adjective sluggish.  

Also, does something grey, that might be sad, cloud his heart too? Is clouds both a noun and a verb? There is more than one meaning and way of reading this poem. 



after rain midnight dreams a hedgehog

Alan Summers


Italian writer Marina Bellini asked, while working on an Italian translation: “is it the hedgehog who dreams or somebody else?”

I replied, on Facebook, “It’s from a direct experience, from my low level balcony, and a use of multiple interpretations and playfulness that one line haiku can really utilise.”

I added: “For the reader it could be the hedgehog or a human (fellow animal) that roams and dreams or it could be Midnight itself that dreams and conjures up a hedgehog, the most delightful of creatures.”



rocking chairs just when the still of night

Lovette Carter

Lovette brings in an iconic image of the rocking chair, and disciplines herself to avoid the temptation to fill in the gaps between the words. Often we want to say and put as much if not everything into our haiku, and because it’s so short there’s an urge to jam more into the brief verse.  Allow the haiku to breathe;it’s good to allow the reader to have fun with the white echoes that resonate out of the invisible text that sits both in-between and outside our black ink. The two words, ‘just when’ are expertly applied in-between ‘rocking chairs’ and ‘the still of the night.’ Surgical precision counts even more in one-line haiku than its regular counterpart of the three-line version.

Haiku from any approach of line number will tackle all kinds of issues, and topics. Haiku are traditionally linked to the seasons in general, rather than nature, as haiku came out as urbanization and the industrial revolution exploded in Japan. As more, and more urban landscapes appeared, so did issues of what became a modern society removed from its agricultural roots.


smiles in sunshine sociopath

Gabri Rigotti


The noticeable rise of the sociopath in films, TV, and certain business practices, has made us aware that there other models of human behavior out there. The smiles in the sunlight can be as deadly as a badly lit back alley. Of course there are good sociopaths and ‘sunshine sociopath’ is an interesting couple of words to take from the verse.



unfaithful lovers lying still

D Grover

Here we have the technique of making a word that has at least a double meaning/alternate meaning; there's great sadness despite the playful pun of ‘lying'.  See how the poem expands because there is not just one layer of meaning to be instantly got at, but at least a second layer of meaning, and both can direct us to memories of film, and TV or of friends or family who may have been unfaithful at least once, perhaps.



dark matter the dreams i cling to

Brendon Kent

Brendon brings in science which has become a popular motif with many of us, as we move through the industrial revolution into new sciences including quantum mechanics. We may realise that nature, and science, are not as we thought back in the previous centuries. Perhaps there is still time to start growing up and move away from our childish obsessions, that we literally believe we own the planet and all its non-human denizens.

Here, Brendon has his dreams he is clinging onto, and perhaps dreaming of quantum mechanics or the Philip Pullman trilogy, His Dark Materials. Or is this haiku combining more than one thought, where we have dark thoughts, and wonder if our dreams matter. Should we cling to those waking dreams or our wide awake ambitions we had as a child?



sunset in the slaughterhouse blood a color 

Nicholas Klacsanzky

Nicholas worried that his poem might gross people out, but haiku can quickly take on issues around last century, and this century, because haiku came around at the close of the 19th century, when Shiki took aspects from the hokku verse of previous centuries, and made it a particular type that could take on difficult subjects. Out of the tens of thousands of haiku that Shiki wrote, he covered the topic of his dying from spinal tuberculosis directly and indirectly. 

e.g.

雪の家に寢て居ると思ふばかりにて

original haiku by Shiki


yuki no ie ni nete iru to omou bakari ni te

Romanised (aka romaji) transcription: Atsuro Kagawa and Sachiko Iwabuchi


sick in bed I think of being sick in bed snowbound

English-language version by Alan Summers

Nicholas originally had a three line version, where he asked for feeback, which was a good strong draft version, but the preposition of ‘in’ was an issue regarding a line break…

e.g.

sunset
in the slaughterhouse--
blood is just a color

It could have easily moved to:

sunset
the slaughterhouse
blood is just a color

sunset
the slaughterhouse blood 
is just a color

sunset
the slaughterhouse
blood is a color

But the linebreaks, the enjambment, wouldn’t quite work, so the one-line format worked perfectly as the enjambment is internal, with abruptive shifts, and a lesser need for correct syntax and grammar. In fact, when the preposition ‘in’ is a problem, it can become a strength of the one-line haiku. I'd say this has one of the many advantages that makes one-line haiku stand apart from a three-line haiku.

In July 2015, Jacob Salzer, the Managing Editor of Yanty’s Butterfly posted in the Nook haiku group:

“I find that haiku reminds us to use caution with our words, and also helps us realize the value of a single word. In terms of "economy of language", one-line haiku makes full use of very few words, even more so than three-line haiku. The depth, and layers of a single word often really comes alive in one-line haiku, as it's presented in a refined format, making familiar words both fresh and insightful.

Three-line haiku often allows us to pause between 1 or 2 lines. With one-line haiku, that pause can be created through an extra space, though it’s not always necessary. I appreciate how one-line haiku can often be read differently, despite its condensed form. Double-meaning, and double-interpretation is a frequent discovery.

A high-quality one-line haiku is like a focused laser beam that can pierce through dense layers of thoughts. This is where I find its value. While three-line haiku has this ability to quiet the mind, even for a moment, I find one-line to be even more effective in allowing the reader to embrace the gap between thoughts. Our day-to-day duties comes to a standstill, just for a moment. Welcome to the world of one-line haiku.”


Jacob came up with this highly memorable one-line haiku:


mountain without a name child gazing

Jacob Salzer

The poem went through a process of discussion, and revision in the Nook group; the friendly, yet insightful dynamics of a group that can fully trust each other brought us this stunning final version. I cannot begin to tell you how many different interpretations I get from this six-word line of poetry, with its gaps and spaces in between, and its white echoes where black ink text riffs, and expands because of the invisible text lying in-between, as well as underneath the spaces around the visible text. 

We at first glance might see that there are two sections:

1. mountain without a name 
2. child gazing

And:

1. mountain 
2. without a name child gazing

And of course, a mountain has no name; it is, and needs no human appendage of an identity, and the same goes for a very young child. They are simply there, and need no names for each other.

Of course a three-line version could work with ‘without a name’ acting as a hinge/pivot line:

1. mountain 
2. without a name 
3. child gazing

mountain 
without a name 

without a name 
child gazing

But something is lost, as if the spelling out for the reader reduces the tension, resonance, and multiple types of ways of reading this. It would still make for a fine haiku, but shifting it up a notch by making it a single line of poetry, it allows us to travel that single line, creating veloquality that the three-line haiku doesn’t have in so much abundance.

Edwin Lomere was the main collaborator in the critique, as was I, but hats off to Edwin, and Jacob himself, where Jacob was pushed to produce this tight piece of literature.

As with many of the Nook participants, it was incredibly difficult to select just one example of only one line haiku from them.  Many more appear both in the anthology. 



full moon night the side we don`t show

Eva Limbach

Eva brings in the moon, a potent symbol across literature, and none so much as in haiku, and its earlier literary partners: the hokku, and renga/renku.   

Here, Eva brings in psychological depth, with the fact that we are individuals, and a society, (or a part or section of society), and so we have other sides to our nature we might not choose to show in the daylight hours.   

The use of ‘night’ is important even though we think of the moon as a nighttime presence.  Is it a full moon, and night is the side we don’t show?  

e.g.

night, the side we don`t show

The night is the side we don`t show

And breaking up the one line haiku so you can see this possible interpretation, and also highlight that gap where no text rests, at least in visible ink:

full moon   night the side we don`t show


Or is it just one of those spine-tingling full moon nights, where the moon dominates the night sky, over the stars, amidst the scurrying of smaller lifeforms?

Two words that power this haiku are ‘night' and ‘don’t’, both expertly inserted.  Haiku requires a skill to make sure a word pulls more than the weight of its surface meaning, and more than the letters it contains. 




river bank I fill out an unknown space 

Malintha Perera

Malintha brings us other depths, where we are along a river bank, perhaps quite literally, and I’m reminded of Alice in Wonderland before she went down the rabbit hole. The purely concrete image of a river bank is brought up a number of notches when it is combined with the abstractness of “I fill out an unknown space.” 

The juxtaposition of both sections of this haiku expand into our minds, and that’s the skill of placing two fragments of text together that generate more energy than on their own or just placed with a very simple companion fragment…

e.g.

river bank
three cows
under a cloud

And as a one line version:

river bank three cows under a cloud

My examples above are deliberately flat and a statement to emphasize skill in choosing the right words in the right positions, and nothing else. My fun verse, more doggerel than poem, makes for a lovely pastoral scene, but they do not generate tension, or spark the thoughts of the reader.  

Poets are generators with their poems, and avoid just producing a nice image that makes us coo with an aaah, as we rarely go back time and time again, and receive something new and insightful each time.




a grasshopper on concrete chalk drawings

Michelle Hyatt

The grasshopper is another symbolic image from country/farm childhoods, early school perhaps, and the story of Pinoccio, although that was a cricket, very different species. Here, Michelle adds concrete quite literally! Is it just a grasshopper on a concrete chalk drawing, a sidewalk hopscotch? Would an insect be there if children are jumping up, and down, and along, and across a game drawn on a sidewalk? And why concrete, and not just sidewalk?  Are the chalk drawings on the sidewalk, and the grasshopper has come into this highly urban concrete jungle of a town or district of a city?   

Is nature creeping back in, despite our efforts to concretise everything along with glass, and steel? The use of subtle alliteration with concrete, and chalk also shifts this into a deeper resonance using musicality to add to the tension of the piece, like a certain well-judged musical score to a scene in a movie.   

This reminds me that haiku techniques have been used in film making with Russian/Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein, and Japanese films like Ozu Yasujirō’s work, and Tokyo, were quickly copied by Hollywood, and other Western movie-makers, and here we have a camera pan technique which culminates in a zoom, and a cutaway, from the grasshopper to concrete structures to the drawings on a sidewalk along a certain street.

Dave Read says of one line haiku:

I tend to use a one liner instead of three when:

1. I want to increase the pace of the poem, blur the images together;
2. In cases where the juxtaposition is less pronounced; or
3. If there is more than one possible place at which the pause between images can be interpreted.

In the age of computers and how we use them for leisure almost around the clock, an iconic image that has become stronger, and stronger, and integral in many people’s communications to each other, is the emoticon, that started with a smiley as a yellow face image, became distilled as :-) and further as :) and then multiplied into thousands of variations.


capturing her emoticon man

Dave Read

Here we have a present participle starting the haiku, and is this a romantic notion of a woman capturing the man of her dreams in real life, or a man capturing a woman of his dreams amidst the crazy fast pace of society? Or is it just a Facebook or Twitter or other social media technique of using an emoticon by one person that appeals to another person, and it goes no further than the second person utilising the emoticon for their other social media messages?  

Is man short for mankind in general or a man in particular, or is about a woman whether in a romantic light or a more sinister way? Or is it a modern way of saying a particular man has stolen her heart in a 21st century technological way? Dave’s haiku is just four words, and yet, I can take so many different viewpoints from this, and, (like so many of these haiku), I could write a story, from a short fiction piece to a novel, to a screenplay for the next leading romantic movie couple.



piercing light sparrows in pairs

Willie Bongcaron

With this haiku, we go back into nature, and with sparrows flying in pairs. What is the piercing light? Perhaps the headlights on full beam from a car containing a tired human worker after a long and busy day. Sometimes, as the Beatles pop group of the 1960s sang, it feels like an Eight Day Week. 

I hope the traveler arrives home safely, unless it is not car lights. Is it a powerful torch, and someone has to get up in the night for some reason, and sees what caused a sound breaking into her or his sleep? 


Is the piercing light those Crepuscular rays known as sunbeams, Angel lights, Sun rays or God rays? That brings me to think about Saint Francis of Assisi and his love for birds.

The name Crepuscular [Latin word “crepusculum" means twilight] because they are often witnessed during the twilight hours (dawn and dusk), those in-between hours not yet day not yet night. Haiku can act as mystery stories where the ending is not revealed. 



As I mention sleep more than once and not just with the preceding haiku, here’s another one that expands into the mind with…

the world closes into sleep on me

Edwin Lomere

Haiku are not nature poems that just capture the natural history of the birds, trees, and insects. We forget the whole world is nature, including the human denizens, and their towns, and cities. A world of cities has sprung up since the advance of the Industrial Revolution from the U.K. to the States; Europe; Asia; Indian sub-continent; and Australasia, and so many other places. Setting aside the time zones, the feeling that the world of humans goes to sleep the same time as the author is a fantastic notion. This is quite simply a beautiful, magical and mystical piece; a scene larger than could be caught in a grain of sand or a snow globe.



twilight forest a barcode

Francis Franklin

Francis sublimely captures a thousand, or ten thousand, years into a haiku, starting from the first primordial forests, to the dark, mythological super forests that began to be broken down for human dwellers, and still do such as the Amazon. Also contained are the woodlands of folklore, mystery, and sometimes terror, in the imagination of those who read HC Andersen’s stories, or the folktales collected by the Grimm women, and their husbands. Ah, so you thought it was just the Grimm men who captured the dark wonderful scape of closely knitted forests weaving in and out? No, the women brought them to the men, and that collaboration brought stories that might have otherwise been eventually lost in time.

Now, those tamed forests become products for furniture, and of course, books, each with a barcode to buy in a shop or online. But, the forest is still there, in our minds, and in our insecurities as a human race, as we set out to conquer the world (well perhaps again, in our mind). Four words, and yet again I could write a Grimm or HC Andersen style story, or a modern mystery (be it Science Fiction or Fantasy), or a 21st century folklore meeting primordial trees through the leaves, and branches of time.



Introducing other poets:



belugas atop the snowbank two blue boxes 

Marianne Paul

The connections work wonderfully well with caviar in blue tins on a bank of ice in a shop counter, and whales being stranded on sand banks, but this time on a shop display, with its own snowbank, that of ice and the potential wonder of the children of beluga whales literally put on ice.  Blue boxes also makes me think of coffins, this time especially designed for whales, and why I’m surprised we have not made extinct. But of course the beluga is harvested, its young harvested, just as adults harvest human young in business from music to clothing to darker pursuits. My connections might not be what you, the reader or the original author intended of course, but once the poem is out there, a reader makes their own home around it.



crows until the world is silhouettes

Polona Oblak

“This haiku is written in one line. A sentence fragment, it doesn't read quite as smoothly as would a complete sentence, yet it has a pleasing musicality. The first word, not being paired with a verb as in a sentence, creates a soft pause in our perception of the poem. The rest of the verse flows, but it flows slowly, matching twilight's progression. The sound of "world" is stretched. "Silhouette" is a borrowed word from French, and is deceptive when read or spoken. If it were not set in the plural, the double "t" with "e" would be pronounced with a clipped sound, a defined stop in French. However, when it is spoken in English, the plural "s" softens the "tt" sound.”

Paul MacNeil, The Heron’s Nest
December 2015




keeping him up the moon in the man

Joseph Aversano

Joseph told me that this was about the troubled times in his country mostly from outside forces, and tensions in the Middle East in general. For those of us in other parts of the world, we can be isolated from the terrible minute by minute experiences of what mass violence brings in all its shapes, and sizes. 

Do we get this from the poem?  Probably not, but it drove Joseph to write this wonderful one-line haiku.   I know of the myth in some countries, and cultures that there is a man in the moon, and I wonder what this mythical being must see, watching planet Earth, or as I see it, the Water Planet. The moon effects our tides, and often our hearts and mind. The section ‘the moon in the man’ is fresh and thought-provoking. Enjoy the tripping up of the tongue in the verse, and how you might get different readings. 



lone tricycle blue in the whirlwind of leaves

Mary Kendall

Who is blue, feeling melancholy?  Is it the tricycle, or a person or a couple coming across an abandoned child’s bike? Is there a whirlwind of leaves or a whirlwind of emotions, perhaps felt by one person now also feeling abandoned?  Or a couple whose child has grown up and left the family home. There is so much that can be read into this poem and it will thrive under our imagination.


Before I conclude I wanted to add two British practitioners, starting with Kate B Hall, President of the British Haiku Society (BHS), whom I’ve recently reviewed:


almost forgotten in a drawer - a photo of sea mist

Kate B Hall

The furniture drawer is a great resevoir of forgotten and almost forgotten memorabilia.  Kate weaves concrete imagery in something that lies betwixt reality and super-reality.  Is it a straight photo or postcard or the actual sea mist contained in that drawer? I am also instantly transported to a Narnia type land of magic where instead of a wardrobe we enter a  voluminous chest of drawers. 


To frances angela, one of our very finest British and international haiku poets, and incisive exponent of the one line haiku either as standalone verse or part of a haibun.


landmarks the lighthouse without us

frances angela

This is from the September issue of Blithe Spirit (BHS journal) and comes from the haibun date. There is often a sharp yet also subtle and resonating poignancy with this haiku, as our familiar landmarks of youth become obsolete. Can a man-made object lose its way without us?  Yes, I believe so. This is not just a poem about a lighthouse or lighthouses in general, that used to be manned by humans, and entered our childhood imaginations. This is the potential loss of all that is good about childhood, and how adults often discard important landmarks of not just their history, but our youth.


childhood street still avoiding the cracks

frances angela

This is also from the same Blithe Spirit issue but as a standalone haiku. Who doesn’t remember their first childhood home and immediate street? It’s often where we learn and survive some of our first steep learning curves, and life’s lessons, good or bad, or in-between. Haiku is so often about the in-betweeness of things and none moreso than sidewalk/pavement cracks where it was best to avoid the places where paving slabs meet.

So how does a one-line haiku in English work, where the wider recognised three-line haiku is often both common and more popular? I think we have started to find our answer, and it’s the power of the line in poetry with a haiku tweak. 

Despite its brevity in any form: from one-line, or two-line to three-line, or even four-line formats, there is a certain musicality, rhythm, and speed to haiku, even if it’s feels like an anti-musicality production of words. Words sing, and poets hope to catch a song from them.


One more guest poet’s word on one line haiku, and this is from the Managing Editor of the anthology Yanty’s Butterfly:


snow on the sun navigating childhoods

Alan Summers

An excellent monoku: “snow on the sun” is unique as I don’t think people would normally think of it that way, and “navigating childhoods” leaves plenty of room for the reader to participate. There is a balance of concrete and abstract in this one-line haiku.
Jacob Salzer, Managing Editor, September 24, 2016



Conclusion

I feel it’s impossible to pin down why a one-line haiku works where a three-line version might better serve instead. Perhaps it’s up to the reader as the end game, as the final arbiter. And remember, if you are a haiku writer, or are inspired to become one after reading this article, it’s good to provide a variety of work in your haiku. If you ever consider a collection of your own, I hope you will include a few haiku as one line. 

Travelling the single line of haiku

©Alan Summers 2014-2016