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this slow healing
a blackbird almost invisible
in the winter dusk



                    Twitter 14/12/2017
                    Temps Libre
beach sunset a woman kisses the light on her baby's face
























Blithe Spirit 27.4 November 2017

haiku commentary - Kaneko Tohta

猪がきて空気を食べる春の峠
    a wild boar      comes and eats air      spring mountain path
          — Kaneko Tohta,Selected Haiku With Notes and Commentary Part 2:1961-2012, translated by the Kon Nichi Translation Group (Red Moon Press, 2012)
The translation of poetry has to be one of the most challenging arts. How can someone translate words, syntax, sound, rhythm and connotation from one language to another and be sure of achieving something comparable to the original author’s intention? How does the translator balance commitment to the original text with the necessity of creating poetic effect in the translated one?
I am not a translator. And while my reasonable grasp of French and Spanish might help me produce a passable English translation of a short poem in either of those languages, all other languages are beyond my reach. So it’s the translation of Kaneko Tohta’s haiku that I must respond to.

I appreciate the overall scene the haiku conjures but I’m less satisfied with a close reading: …

Haiku Rebellion Studio

Plan your writing time for Spring 2018 with The Poetry School's new list of courses. I'll be leading Haiku Rebellion Studio again, an online course that runs over three to four weeks next April with lots of opportunity to practice and receive feedback on your own haiku. It sold out last time so book early!
In the meantime, here's some background to my haiku practice and the course.

Small is the New Big
I started this blogpost with the question, How do you write a poem like a haiku? And then really wished I hadn’t. Because the next question that popped out of my brain was, How do you catch a moment on the page? No? Nothing? I’ll give you a clue: ¯¯How do you solve a problem like Maria? ¯¯ Apologies for the Sound of Music ear-worm.
Our minds are full of patterns. Habits, even. And while habits and repeated actions can be comforting, like reading the Sunday papers in bed or summer sunsets, the unconscious repetition of habits in our writing, a continued reliance on what’s fam…

haiku commentary ~ Paul Miller

spring foghorn . . . 
cormorants spilling 
from an over-crowded ledge  

Paul Miller, Called Home (2006)


Sound, sight and movement, and texture. These are the explicit physical senses through which the haiku speaks to me. But there must be more haunting the images and the spaces between the lines to produce an element of unease in me.
There’s warning in the sound of the foghorn. Spring tides (despite the natural response of ‘joy’ that we have to the idea of Spring) can be dangerous and have stronger than usual rip currents. The company of black birds spills into the air like a ragged cloak of wing and cry. There’s a sense of danger, or risk, implicit in an overcrowded ledge. 
The ellipsis at the end of line 1 indicates hesitation and uncertainty. spilling/ at the end of line 2 also allows the reader to experience that sense of falling into the white space on the page. Line 3 ends gruffly with the definite thump of a single syllable: ledge,
Twice in the last two days I have read the closin…

Review ~ Paul Chambers

This Single Thread Paul Chambers
£10 availablefrom the authorandAlba Publishing
things I have witnessed/ but failed to notice until/ this moment, here, now

I have seen them in the orchard’s long grass – contour, flight, down – from magpies or wood pigeons, and once, the tawny remains of a buzzard. I have slipped them in my pocket or frozen them in a photograph. But now I am watching them move in my memory as dusk begins to shift towards night:
evening wind a feather trembles in the grass  (p.11)
And on those late train journeys home from London, lights from the back windows of terraced houses glittering past, wafers of smoky clouds shifting across the night sky: 
overnight train a handprint smears the moon (p.68)
Paul Chambers talks about haiku as ‘the art of noticing’ and each haiku in this collection is a quiet and precise record of the small moments that are common to us all. Or, if not common, convincingly true:  
pylon hum the twitch of fibres in a horse’s shoulder (p.27)
Our lives are, natura…

haiku commentary: Ajaya Mahala

mosquito wings —
the colour of evening 
so thin

          — Ajaya Mahala (First Place, Shiki Monthly Kukai, May 2014)

It’s probably a default approach to use visual images when writing poetry and I know I consciously nudge myself now and then to consider the senses of smell, sound, touch and taste too. And, sometimes taking it a step further, to consider if synaesthesia ~ when the sensory stimulus from one sense is mixed up with another sense ~ might also be effective with the material I’m working with.
The use of metaphor, in any form of poetry, needs a light touch, and even more so in haiku where the minimal form has no space for a grandstanding author to hide. I want my haiku to encourage a reader to reflect on their own experiences, through the filter of mine, and not reflect on how clever with language I might think I am!
‘mosquito wings’ is written with an incredibly light touch, subtly using synaesthesia to blend visual and textural qualities. We automatically associate mosquitoes…

Review: cylymau tywod ~ knots of sands

cylymau tywod ~ knots of sand
John Rowlands

£12 from Alba Publishing

This week a friend on Facebook shared an old photograph of us, standing together on the shore of the Atlantic on Florida's east coast, and I felt homesick for the sensation of damp sand under my feet, for the scent of salt on the breeze.  
I was born next to the sea in South Wales. The beach and sand dunes were our playground as children. The sound of breaking waves became so familiar I had to focus intently to hear them at night before I fell asleep.
roaring sea tongues of foam silenced in sand (p.32)
The knots of sand in the title of Rowlands' haiku collection are the ropey-looking burrowings that lugworm leave on the surface of the sand. My dad used to dig for lugworm, to use as fishing bait, on the beach at low-tide. 
cylymau tywod in Welsh, my mother's first language, the language we were not taught growing up in Port Talbot (for outdated reasons about learning) but one that still formed a natural part of my …

Haibun

When in doubt say ‘yes’ 

November: a month that begins with a syllable of prohibition then slowly denies us colour and warmth. My father's brother has died at 91. This morning’s frost refuses to melt. I watch a day moon swallowed by smoky clouds; leaves shroud the bare earth beneath the apple trees.
But tonight, as if his age and health are no more than a random number, a misconception, my father's voice on the phone so clear, so bright. And the sky beyond the orchard fired by sunset. Yes. Oh yes.
fall
I try
not to





First published in CHO July 2017