Reading and Haibun ‘Shoes’

I enjoyed my reading last night, jointly with other writers, at the Open Reading for Writers event, Munich Readery. Many thanks to the writers for the company, camaraderie, their insightful comments and discussion; and special thanks to Lisa Yarger for so wonderfully, and calmly, hosting the event. I read eight haibun, all work in progress. Here is one of them:

Migrant ship sinking



With warmer days, newspapers are filling with news of migrant boats from Africa and the Middle East increasing in their numbers, sinking in droves. Hundreds of deaths each week.

We poets, who put our hearts in the shoes of the hummingbird and the beggar poet, the little frog and the mighty spring thunder, the cat and the star-studded sky, are confronted with a reality hard to fathom. I find myself at a loss for words. Reading about other people’s misfortunes, of their fleeing deserts, war, of their placing their lives and their childrens’ lives in the hands of fate, of their washing up on European shores lifeless, I stop writing.

My mind fills with questions: did they leave books behind? A favourite thimble, a tin soldier, a straw dolly? A mug they liked to drink from, a shady spot they loved to sit in, an icon they lit candles in front of? A carpet they knelt to pray on? Did they leave behind many beliefs, nourishing relationships, did they lose their innocence before or during the journey? What happened to their shoes?

wall cracks filling
with shadows

Image found in Mashable: Migrant Ship Sinking. Photo: Michalis Loizos, Associated Press
See an interesting article on The Migrant Crisis on Greece’s Islands in The New Yorker

‘swaying branch’ and ‘moment of stillness’

swaying branch
the hummingbird here
and not here
moment of stillness
just before the light
haiku,poetry,International Haiku Poetry Day 2015, From In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), my book of haiku and micro poetry.

The ‘hummingbird’ poem is also included in my film presentation for HaikuLife ‘Haiku Journey‘ organised by The Haiku Foundation and shown together with several other entries to the event on International Haiku Poetry Day, April 17, 2015. The event was an enormous heart-warming, global literary celebration of haiku, and if you missed it, you can catch up through the blog posts on the THF site and the links here

‘in light of’ and ‘dawn chorus’ translated into Bulgarian

in light of
wild violets…

в светлината
на дивите теменужки…
нощна шапчица


dawn chorus
the night shift spills out
into the street

утринен хор
нощната смяна се изсипва
на улицата


These two haiku, first posted to THF EarthRise, the IHPD rolling haiku collaboration 2015, were translated into Bulgarian for Wild Lilacs, a blog of Bulgarian poets: Thank you  Maya Lyubenova, Tzetzka Ilieva, Vessislava Savova!


Haiku Journey for HaikuLife 2015

At the beginning of this year, I wrote about my visit to Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, to view their collection of paintings by  Alfred Wallis. At that time, I was inspired to put together a presentation for the HaikuLife FilmFest, organised by The Haiku Foundation. The presentation, Haiku Journey, was shown on International Haiku Poetry Day, April 17, 2015, together with a good number of other films. It is now archived on the site here.

Poetry and arrangement: Stella Pierides; film editing: Rob Ward

Images: by kind permission of Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge


International Haiku Poetry Day 2015

In 2015, The Haiku Foundation celebrates haiku on a global scale, encompassing the work and achievements of haiku poets from around the world. From this year on, International Haiku Poetry Day (IHPD), replacing the THF’s National Haiku Poetry Day, becomes the biggest celebration of haiku poetry word wide. On April 17 each year, haiku poets, haiku poetry fans, and organisations will be getting together under the auspices of the THF in order to honour the depth, reach, creativity, and joy of the genre we have come to love.

For this year, the Foundation has organised a series of events, from local haiku readings and celebrations, over HaikuLife, a FilmFest showcasing work submitted by individuals and organisations, to EarthRise, a rolling collaborative poem.

On April 17th, 2015, from 12:01 A.M. at the International Date Line, a wave of haiku contributions begins and rolls throughout the day, with poets offering their haiku at dawn their local time. The finished collaboration, on the theme of Light, will be permanently archived on the THF site.

I am very much looking forward to the day, and the many exciting contributions from poets around the globe. I will be setting my alarm, and posting my own haiku to the inaugural EarthRise.

I am also delighted that the FilmFest, HaikuLife, features a short film of my haiku together with paintings by Alfred Wallis (from the excellent Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, collection). I created this film with the (much appreciated) support of Rob Ward, After-Effects Artist and Animator. Besides my presentation, there are at least 12 other contributions by haiku poets and organisations, amounting to almost 90 minutes of film.

I hope you will be able to join in the fun on IHPD.

For times, url, and other information about HaikuLife and EarthRise, as well as the local (to the US) readings, please visit the Troutswirl blog at The Haiku Foundation site.

Update April17, 2015

Happy International Haiku Poetry Day, folks! Contribute your poems to EarthRise, watch the HaikuLife films, go to the readings, enjoy the day!

My short film, Haiku Journey, is shown today — together with a number of other films — and will be permanently archived on the Haiku Foundation site. Please see here

For an introduction to the Foundation HaikuLife project, and the list of all projects shown, please click

‘Seferis’ Houses’

My longer poem Seferis’ Houses, republished in Little Eagle’s RE / VERSE, April 9, 2015. To read the poem, please click here

Little Eagle RE / VERSE






Artwork by Ralph Murre, after a photo by (or of?) Giorgos Seferis

Little Eagle Press presents poems previously published. Well worth another look, we think

Paying homage to Seferis, the poem directly refers to Seferis’ ‘Thrush’, a poem he wrote in 1946. You can read the poem on the Poetry Foundation site.

For information about Giorgos Seferis, see the Wikipedia entry.
You may also want to take a look at this longer, Princeton Uni. entry with photos, or at Edmund Keeley’s interview with Seferis in the Paris Review.

Updated THF Haiku App and Mini-Review Contest

The Haiku Foundation has updated the Haiku App–one of its most important offerings to the haiku community worldwide. In 2015 the App includes well over 1500 haiku from poets around the globe

“showing the range of topics and form characteristic of today’s — not your grandfather’s — haiku! Shake your iPhone or other Apple mobile device and a new poem appears. Share your favorites with friends with a click.”

The THF Haiku App is available to download from iTunes for free! More information and a link to iTunes from here 

What is more, the Foundation runs a mini-review contest for bloggers. You only have to post a review on your blog (up to 100 words) and let the Foundation know, giving the blog’s url by using the contact form on the website. There’s still time to do this! The winner will receive Montage: The Book, an award-winning haiku collection, and will be featured on Troutswirl, the Haiku Foundation blog. Give it a try, and have fun!

Pattern, Poetry, and ‘Polemics’

What do Pattern, Poetry, and Polemics have in common? The Arts and Crafts Movement’s poet, novelist, publisher, translator, architect, designer, craftsman, retailer, environmentalist, and social activist William Morris! I was delighted to be able to visit the William Morris Gallery, in Walthamstow, which tells the story of William Morris and his multiple achievements: the elaborate, detailed, inspirational designs and their manufacture/production/application; the poetry and prose; the perfectly hand-crafted books; the politics, speeches and support for the Victorian poor… Morris applied himself with awe-inspiring energy and dedication to an astonishing array of disciplines.

There’s an organic unity in his work, each piece containing seeds from whatever he’d been working on, in whatever field. Despite this connectivity and continuation in his work, Morris has often been strongly and unfortunately linked with mere wallpaper design. I found this contradiction interesting in itself, as if the critics and the viewers, the consumers of his work, could not cope with someone different to themselves, someone excelling in many fields, rather than just one, if at that. It is not the only contradiction. The critical assessment of his work rests on this ground of contradictory perception, for example, when it is pointed out that Morris decorated the houses of the rich while campaigning for the rights of the poor.

Yet, Morris himself was aware of the connections between disciplines and the depth achieved when we become conscious of them. Lecturing on design, in 1881, he claimed,

‘any decoration is futile … when it does not remind you of something beyond itself’.

Beyond Morris’ decorations, patterns, and wallpapers lie references to the medieval world, history and myth, nature and society, beauty, and above all the assertion that we are all made of the same stuff. Although referring back to a pre-industrial age, his is a utopian vision of humans fulfilling their creativity, and themselves, in self-determined, non-alienated work, within an egalitarian society that supports them in this endeavour. In those terms, in addition to his role in the Arts and Crafts movement, he comes across as a social thinker and moral visionary working towards a better world.

the heart of a soft

Here is a link to the amazing William Morris Gallery collection
The wikipedia link here

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku


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