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Showing posts from 2011
Kissing Simon Cowell

It is not as I imagined: abrupt, inattentive. It is eager and tender but, to be honest, a little too wet, although my heart still does its excited little somersault even if he is just toying with me to pass some time in this small hotel while the rest of our group are in their rooms preparing for the road-trip ahead, or maybe the hesitance I detect is a shadow of guilt for his girlfriend, the dark l’Oreal-haired woman I could never hope to compete with beyond the confines of this dream, and when he says he’s going to take a nap I still don’t know if he wants me to join him, even when he jokes about my unshaved legs and his smile reaches his eyes and he stops cleaning his teeth and steps into the hallway to call out about the efficiency of electric toothbrushes, or even when he goes down to reception via the front staircase and returns via the back, slowing as he passes my open door, a glass of water in his hand, his face as smooth as the stone linen shirt he is wea…

Haiku as Poetic Spell - Martin Lucas

Martin Lucas, editor of Haiku Presence magazine and author of Stepping Stones, a way into haiku has kindly allowed me to reprint his enlightening essay.I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, for the way it makes me reflect on my own haiku writing practice and question what I'm doing and why.

Haiku as Poetic Spell
Haiku as an English-language form now has fifty years or so of history. There have been many trials of new approaches along the way, and much has been learned. At the same time, it’s probably true to say that only a minority of writers stay the course. For many, it’s an enthusiasm that burns brightly for two or three years – sometimes with brilliant results – and then burns itself out, as the writer comes to feel that s/he has exhausted either the potential of haiku or his/her own potential as a haiku writer. One consequence of this turnover is that although individual writers may make great strides very rapidly, the movement as a whole evolves much more slowly, and from cer…

july river 24

Sunday morning:
a queue at the bakery
then sandcastles
and tiny silver fish
darting in the shallows.

Some days open to us
effortlessly.

july river 17

the wind picks up
beneath dark clouds
the sea takes on
the colour of petrol

and now the rain

each day this week
summer has turned
against itself, as if it has
forgotten its own name

july river 16

the sea as clear as light this morning

a little girl stands under the beach shower
and opens her mouth

a rose tattoo
above a woman's right buttock

I step around the pebbles on the sea-bed

july river 13

a young girl turns
cartwheels in the shallows

the waves break short
like a splash of applause

july river 11

these gorgeous girls
in their Italian sunglasses
and sparkly flip-flops
who move like water

I want to press a fingertip
to their golden skin
just to watch it spring
back into place

july river 8

all day now
the chitter of cicadas
all night
the whirr of the ceiling fan

last night I dreamed
of a dark restaurant
an unpaid bill
I walked away from

july river 7

My father once gave my mother a driving lesson on the beach carpark while the three of us were in the back of the car. She remembers us shouting, 'No Daddy, please don't let Mammy drive.' She never learned.

45 years later my niece sends me a photo of her on a mobility scooter for the first time, negotiating Debenhams and M&S, her handbag in the front basket, her walking stick slotted behind the seat.

'Go, Mam,' I am shouting from 1,000 miles away.

july river 6

Almost nine in the evening and the beach is full of picnics: two kids and their parents eating sandwiches wrapped in tinfoil, an extended family on deckchairs around a line wobbly tables pushed together and leaning into the sand from the weight of tupperware dishes and bottles of wine, some volleyballers on towels with cigarettes and bread.

Sand, sunset, the voices of people who know you. The day's end like a pillow.

july river 3

there can never be too much light

july river 2

Much less than a nest, these few snatches of twig and grass, yet the pigeon settles and resettles herself on the high ledge under the arcade, a ledge so narrow she has to sit with her tail feathers flattened to the wall behind her. And when her mate arrives and perches on the tiniest lip of stone before resting his head across the back of her neck, so for a moment I can't see where his grey feathers end and hers begin, I am reminded of love, love that shows itself in kindness, and I am pleased to be, even if it is an invention of my own making.

a river of stones July 2011

In February of this year Fiona Robyn introduced NaSmaStoMo to the world and I managed to write a small stone every day for a month. So did hundreds and hundreds of other people and we all felt better for it, for a moment of stillness and reflection on the wonderful ordinariness of our lives.

I recently read back over my month of daily stones and was surprised by some of them, couldn't remember writing others, and re-felt the contentment of being part of the project. I shouldn't have been quite as surprised; I'm forever encouraging writing students to 'free write', to be spontaneous. 'You'll surprise yourselves,' I say. Sometimes I need to remind myself of my own advice.

So, I've decided to take part in the July river. I know that somedays I'll struggle to write anything. I might even miss a day and catch up. Other days I'll feel pleased with the few words and images I capture. But what happens on a day to day basis is a small shadow in compar…

another country, haiku poetry from Wales

This is the first ever Welsh national anthology of haiku poetry. Concise, precise and evocative, and taking us on a journey through and around the ordinary and extraordinary aspects of everyday life, these poems have been selected and edited by three highly respected pioneers of the haiku in Wales - Nigel Jenkins, Ken Jones and Lynne Rees.
another countrywas launched in Wales in March 2011 at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea and at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre.
Available from Gomer Press. 
dusk
a fresh baguette
crackles in my palm



three sneezes
all that’s left
of the snowman



Both published in Presence 43

Water-Ways: A Haiku Journey in Ghent

International Haiku Festival in Ghent, Belgium 13th to 19th September 2010

Zilvervisje glimt Langs ’t onzeekre watervlak En hapt er een ster August Vermeylen (1927)
silver fry flicker along the shifting waters and snaffle a star
Trans. David Cobb (2010)

The festival haiku by Vermeylen is one of the oldest haiku written in Dutch but also a natural choice given that Ghent is a city of rivers and waterways that weave through and around its gothic buildings and cobbled streets.
And the theme of water was more intimately introduced to the delegation of assembled haiku poets after dinner on Monday and Tuesday evenings with candle-lit ‘ginko’ in hand-made and man powered, long-oared, wooden boats. With blankets over our knees and notebooks in hand we were steered silently along the dark water, under low stone bridges, with the lights and stepped gable roofs of the city above us.
someone singing from an open window the boat drifts
Lynne Rees

The boat trips were repeated by day to allow us the maximum amo…