the last leaf now
on top of the pile
In NaHaiWriMo anthology Jumble Box (ed. Michael Dylan Welch, artwork Ron C. Moss, Press Here, 2017)
the last leaf now
on top of the pile
In NaHaiWriMo anthology Jumble Box (ed. Michael Dylan Welch, artwork Ron C. Moss, Press Here, 2017)
In the Garden of Absence
Awarded the Haiku Society of America Mildred Kanterman Memorial Merit Book Awards 2013 (3rd place, for books published in 2012).
From the judges’ commentary in Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America:
“A charming collection… This intersection of the past and present is within all of us, and Pierides mines it well. A very satisfying read” (Vol. 37:1, p. 170).
Previous praise for the Book:
— “In Pierides’s meditations, imagination takes center stage, as do imaginary gardens, real toads, and their negative space… The result is a welcome debut in which the reader will find much to admire.”
In Briefly Reviewed, Frogpond, 36-1, Spring 2013 (Click here, please scroll down).
— “This is an engaging collection…”
Modern Haiku 44.2, 2013 (in the “Briefly Noted” section).
— “A Poetic Gem… In the Garden of Absence is a lovely little book that sparkles with a quiet brilliance – every word shines.”
Debbie Strange on Amazon.co.uk
— “In the Garden of Absence is a stunning book. From homely to somewhat obscure, Pierides touches a chord. Her poetry is the essence of haiku and an inspiration for many of us. In the Garden of Absence A must-read book of poetry.”
Sondra Byrnes on Amazon.co.uk
–“… everything, from cover to cover, the cover image, the design, the graphical presentation, the empty space around the haiku, also the introduction… all very aesthetically (one more Greek word) appealing and pleasing! Thank you for taking me on this Magical Journey!”
Freddy Ben-Arroyo, Haifa, Israel*
–“… I really enjoy reading it, and already have some favorites…”
Annie Juhl, Svendborg, Denmark.
–“I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your book this afternoon while sipping on a chai latte. A few that I particularly like are: “between my ego and yours”, “the horses neighing”, “your vacant stare”, “moment of stillness” and “shooting stars”. The whole book is really lovely… the beautiful cover, the feel of the paper and the afterword by Michael Dylan Welch. Thank you for sharing your beautiful poems with me!”
.Lauren Mayhew, Boston, USA
–“Stella Pierides pays attention in simple ways (and sometimes vast ways) to her surrounding world, noticing the warmth of a hen’s eggs on Mother’s Day, that only a dog makes eye contact on a crowded train, or in observing the tiny dark holes in a pin cushion as she extracts its pins.”
Michael Dylan Welch, Sammamish, Washington, USA
–“I cannot recommend ‘In the Garden of Absence‘ by Stella Pierides highly enough. A great Afterword too by Michael Dylan Welch. … The book is entrancing.”
Sheila Windsor, Worcester, UK
February is National Haiku Poetry Month – wherever you might be on the planet. The shortest month of the year for the challenge that may become the longest-lasting commitment you will ever make!
But let’s start small. First write one haiku a day for the whole month. Join a community of poets around the world who endeavor to write at least one haiku a day. And see how it goes… I did, four years ago, when it all started.
The NaHaiWriMo Facebook community encouraged me, nurtured my writing; and this quiet, positive, non-critical presence of people helped me grow. This steady, unfailing presence provided a background for my daily attempts: poetic ventures, haiku versions to work on, check with others.
Other members let me know if they’d read my poem, if they ‘liked’ it, if a different version would work; if they shared my experience or predicament, my point of view, or appreciated my difference. Not often, but cumulatively, in doses that my ego could take…
It worked! I’ve made the commitment to haiku and its special way of seeing and conveying experiences.
Try it yourself. You may like it and start writing haiku each day of every month, all year round. It may help open up time, expand moments the way only haiku can.
To see how it works, take a look here
For how to go about finding out how to write these poems, there is help from the founder and co-ordinator of this project, Michael Dylan Welch here and in more articles posted on this site
You will find the NaHaiWriMo Community here
And for inspiring, prize-winning as well as thematic collections of haiku by poets the world over, you will do well to visit the The Haiku Foundation site here
There’s also a daily poem treat, the Per Diem: Daily Haiku ready for you to pick up here
“Unique and surprising, tight and passionate language”
“Every once in a while, I get a book in the mail that is unique from anything else I’ve ever read. As a collection of short stories, Stella Pieride’s Feeding the Doves has given me a new definition of what short means, not to mention how quickly a story can be told… ”
“… I found her writing a refreshing and unique collection.”
Read Daniel Burton’s review here: Attack of the Books!
The review is also available on Amazon.com
Extract from Mia Avramut’s review on Amazon.co.uk:
“From a symbol of the divine (“A Life-Changing Story), to an object of meditation and near-worship in Syntagma Square (as in the title story), to their possible end in a soup kitchen destined to feed hungry children (“Pigeons”), doves’ journey functions as a counterpoint to the human sacrifice and quest for nourishing truths. Several glimpses into silent, sometimes tortured lives, end in haiku. It serves to deepen the reader’s understanding, and add new dimensions to the prose. And it’s a treat, as Pierides is both an archeologist of experiences, and a mistress of haibun.
Since Yourcenar and Kazantzakis, nobody has illuminated with such wisdom and compassion the often unseen lives that make the humanity what it is: a traveling, travailing organism with feet of myth.”
Mia Avramut is a Romanian- born writer, physician, researcher, and poetry editor at Connotation Press.
Having left Greece in her youth, the author of “Feeding the Doves” returns to the country of her birth through a collection of stories that lie at the heart of Greek identity.
About the Book: Greece has been in the headlines for a very long time. Recently, the headlines have been gloomy and negative, the country facing some of its most difficult years. Against this background, “Feeding the Doves” explores recurrent elements of the Greek psyche, tracing them back to challenges posed by the country’s history, culture, and environment.
The widow, the old loner, the refugee, the immigrant, the young, the writer, the expatriate, tell us their stories, touching upon themes at the heart of Greek being: Love and loss, civil war, immigration and diaspora, emigration, poverty, religion, history and catastrophe, and above all, the will to survive.
“What I admire here are the shining moments of revelation, of truths large and small bursting through the lives and memories of these characters. So many characters, and so rich!”
—John Wentworth Chapin
Founding Editor, 52|250 and A Baker’s Dozen
“Stories to surprise and entertain, to wake and calm, to wrench and elate, to tell the Greek story, past and present, and everyone’s story.”
-—Michael Dylan Welch, poet, writer,
and editor/publisher of Press Here books
87 pages, 90gm cream interior paper
Full-color laminated cover
129 mm x 198 mm trim size
Price: £8.00 UK
Barbara Hepworth, sculptor, created her first pierced form in 1931, the year she gave birth to her child.
Jeanette Winterson, appraising Hepworth’s creation in her essay “The Hole of Life,” sees this as a breakthrough not only in art, but also in the understanding of human existence. Pointing to the advances in science – in which, far from a universe of oppositions (like mind and matter, space and form), Einstein, Planck, and others conceived of a universe in constant play, forever involved in creative tension – Winterson shows Hepworth’s sculpture to be a timely response to them.
“The atom itself, the supposed building-block of matter, was no longer an object, but an energy – points of light surrounded by empty space.”
“If the scientists were right, and space is as much a part of form as mass, then it is the space we need to see – but how? Hepworth made an astonishing discovery the day she pierced one of her sculptures. She allowed us to see nothing – a privilege previously enjoyed only by God.”
Nothing and everything! Winterson understands Hepworth to have mirrored the new developments in theorizing about the cosmos in her hole forms as the (w)hole of life, expanding space to include the invisible, and connecting to both time (in terms of the past) and timelessness in her sculptures
Henry Moore, who had studied art at the same time as Hepworth, grappled with spatial form and in his attempts to give it an extra perspective, cut holes through his sculptures soon after her. Of the various interpretations this act has received, I prefer the one which conceives of it as offering a 3-D perspective (literally and metaphorically) to the viewer.
What if we were to play with Winterson’s take on the holes in Hepworth’s sculptures, along with Moore’s contribution, and relate them to ‘the cut’ in haiku? What if we ‘saw’ the space between the two juxtaposed ideas, between the two parts (not only the pause created by the punctuation) as being more than an empty hole to be filled-in, or a gap to be crossed, but as an energy field being fueled by and fueling meaning? We wouldn’t be the first of course*, but the thought experiment is exciting… Do you resonate with this idea?
And, even though I am oversimplifying, isn’t there a paradox here: cutting away in order to create extra depth (which is where Hepworth and Moore come in)?
One might see a similar paradox in the writings of Winnicott, the English pediatrician and psychoanalyst. For instance, in “The Capacity to be Alone,” he argues that one achieves creative aloneness if, as a child, one had the experience of being in the presence of a watchful, but non-intrusive parent. The capacity for attachment is required before one can deal with loss; the capacity to foresee and accept loss, before love can be truly there, and so on. – I see the opening or cutting away in order to increase the perceived depth and space to be similar to this approach.
Interestingly, there is another paradox giving rise to a ‘hole,’ if we look at the opposite case scenario – where it seems that everything is being said, without any ‘holes.’ Lucian Freud, the painter, painted men and women in their naked, real, and true form. He studied his sitters over months or years, revealing in the portrait the person they happened to be (as he saw them) through paying particular attention to their skin.
In a perceptive essay, Dodds,** points out:
“there is an evocation of abjection, of the corporeal mother who must be symbolically expelled in order for the subject to come into being. And yet rather than staging a ‘rite of defilement’, there is a fascination, we are drawn in. The ‘glare’ of the portraits refers both to the external sources of light reflected on bodily surfaces, and also glare as in look, the stare… We are caught in the gaze of bodies. After first looking away… there is a return, to the folds, the textures, the touch and smell, the loving portrait of every bump of skin, to a fascination with Freud’s cartography of flesh.”
Even when everything is said and done, the people portrayed by Lucian Freud are there and not there. The person is present and absent at the same time: present in their corporeality, yet – like a psychoanalysis which is never finished – their portrait does not say it all. What it says is what has been rejected by social and cultural values, yet by saying so, by bringing in the abject, it rejects socio-cultural values, thus creating a ‘hole.’ The viewer has work to do.
The haiku reader too. From the monumental portrait to the miniscule text: it is not the physical size or amount of detail that matter when it comes to the energy available and the meaning(s) generated – especially through the cut – in haiku. In the haiku moment that the opening of the ‘hole’ creates, a space is entered that is a whole world.
An essay by Jeanette Winterson on Barbara Hepworth and her response to the concept of ‘hole’, originally published in Tate Magazine, can be found here
*For the cut: “like a spark plug that enables a spark to leap the gap” by Michael Dylan Welch in his essay “Haiku . . . Under the Bedsheets: Juxtaposition and Seasonal Reference” in Graceguts
If you are interested in the angle of Lucian Freud and the ‘abject’ you can find a short essay here, together with paintings!
** Based on a paper read to the Czech Psychoanalysis Society on 28 May 2011, “Confronting the Abject: Reflections on Rotraut De Clerck’s (2011) ‘How deep is the skin? Surface and Depth in Lucian Freud´s Female Nudes’” (Dodds 2011b).
On the wider issues relating to space in haiku: “Haiku and its Relationship to Space” by Tracy Koretsky, in the homepage of the New Zealand Poetry Society here
Posted in Haiku Matters, the blog of Gean Tree Press
Randy Brooks in his essay “Genesis of Haiku: Where do Haiku Come From?” quotes Makoto Ueda explaining in Modern Japanese Haiku,
“Any poem demands a measure of active participation on the part of the reader, but this is especially true of haiku. With only slight exaggeration it might be said that the haiku poet completes only one half of his poem, leaving the other half to be supplied in the reader’s imagination.”
Half of the poem! This places a huge responsibility on readers’ shoulders. It not only invites us to look more closely into the relationship between the writer and the reader – Brooks addresses this issue in this and other papers; it helps us understand some of the sensitivity haiku writers display towards their readers and reviewers; and raises the mark of how we use our haiku ‘receptors’ to read haiku.
Journal editors have their own personal, professional, and journal-specific list of criteria for “reading” haiku. Seasoned readers too, as Rick’s and Tom’s comments on the last blog post illustrate. But as ‘lay’ readers, this side of the divide, so to speak, what do we use to understand and connect with a haiku? In addition to the individual, general and universally shared perspectives (mentioned in post 1) which help us ‘read’ haiku, might there be an additional tool available to us?
Arguably, any individual perspective the reader – lay or seasoned – might take has a dual, though intrinsically linked aspect: one relating to the mind and one to the heart. Concerning the latter, the question above might be posed differently: do we ‘walk’ with an open heart (rather than mind), open to be touched by the sensitivity or strength of a poem, or do we carry a shield, only allowing certain aspects of the poem in, and not others? For instance, even when appreciating a poem ‘intellectually’, are we allowing its essence, its excellence to touch us? Might the ‘heart’ be our most basic tool?
Michael Dylan Welch reflects on this matter in his essay “Seeing Into the Heart: Vulnerability in Haiku”. Welch understands Bashō, who told haiku poets to learn of the pine from the pine, and of the bamboo from the bamboo, as telling us to be vulnerable to the subjects of our haiku, and
“to humble ourselves so that we might learn something, and speak of it authentically. The full teacup cannot receive more tea, so we must empty ourselves, and become vulnerable, in order to receive.”
I like this: a reader’s open heart responding to the writer’s. Humbling ourselves as readers, recognizing, that is, our limitations, our preferences, perspectives, ideologies, so as to be open to others’ difference.
Here’s how Welch puts it,
“When we click with a poem, it’s because we have let down our guard, allowing our emotions to be affected, feeling what the poet felt. The poet has dared to hint at what he or she has felt, and thus lights a candle, proudly yet vulnerably, against the imminent dark.”
Not an easy task, for both writer and reader, as opening the heart is often experienced as tantamount to undergoing open heart surgery. Yet, once accomplished, may we not deservedly lay claim as readers to our fifty per cent/half of the creation of the poem?
Thinking about it now, I am reminded that several of Henry Moore’s sculptures have a hole in the area of the heart. One can only muse at the openings this allows – and we will come back to this hole later on in the month. For now, the thought: it may well be the case that one needs to have a hole in the heart in order to be — as a reader too — whole.
Brooks, Randy: “Genesis of Haiku: Where do Haiku Come From?” in Frogpond 34.1 2011
Welch, Michael Dylan: “Seeing Into the Heart: Vulnerability in Haiku” in Graceguts, Essays
(From the writer’s perspective) You may also be interested in:
Cox, Aubrie: ” Writing With the Reader as Co-Creator” in mind, in Aubrie Cox
This essay first appeared in Haiku Matters (07 May 2013)
In a few days, on the first of February, National Haiku Writing Month begins. Again. Once a year, during the shortest month of the year, the shortest form of poetry is being celebrated by writing at least one haiku a day for the duration of the month. And so a dark, dismal month, in the Northern hemisphere, that is, is being transformed through haiku. (No doubt, the poets in the Southern Hemisphere see this differently. I look forward to hearing what they say… )
Once again, the world becomes quieter. A sense of awe and expectation grips the bankers, the nurses, the old age pensioners, the performers, the writers, the psychologists, the traffickers. All eyes are glued to the NaHaiWriMo panel, waiting for the day’s prompt to appear. The moment it appears, the magic unfolds. Noradrenaline flows. Nerve cell upon nerve cell get activated, electrical signals spread, transmitter substances are released, sending out tentacles of attention to gather material.
do not disturb —
gathering of poetry
What a state of mind to be in! Though some poets are more relaxed than others!
The moon, a grain of sand, the sound of the carburetor, the horse’s neighing, the blackbird’s song, waves rolling to the shore; the child’s hand, a kite, tomatoes… Whether snow, cold or warm weather, the poets are watching and waiting, fingers poised over the laptop to catch it, hold it in the palm of their hand, share it.
Will you join NaHaiWriMo? Do if you can bear the world come nearer to you; if you believe you can hear the wind’s voice; if you can let this big, big wonderful world sing to you. If not, you’ll be fine. Just watch from a distance: read what these daring poets are attempting to do, day in day out, here
Michael Dylan Welch, the founder and coordinator of the group, put together a first anthology of the group’s work in August 2012, “With Cherries on Top”. It is a PDF of astounding beauty. And so it goes,
again this insatiable need
to come into bloom
I am very pleased to let you know that the afterword to my book, written by poet and writer Michael Dylan Welch, titled “Presence in Absence,” is now online on Graceguts: Something authentic and delirious. It is a wonderful essay on haiku and the experience of appreciating and sharing the haiku moment by both writer and reader. I am honored that Michael contributed this generous essay to my book “In the Garden of Absence.” Michael’s essay “Presence in Absence” can be read by clicking here
And while you are visiting Michael’s site, Graceguts, take a look around this amazing resource: essays, books, book reviews, fun, haiku, haibun, photo-haiga, poetry, thinking, photography, micropoetry — an Aladdin’s cave!
A new downloadable book was made available on the 16th of November 2012 by Michael Dylan Welch, writer and poet, and founder of the NaHaiWriMo site and FB community. Titled “With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors of NaHaiWriMo,” it is a sparkler of haiku, senryu, and micropoetry. It is excellently designed and presented, with fantastic photography, and also well-proof-read by Christina Nguyen. A haiku fireworks to enjoy on many a winter evening.
This is how Michael Dylan Welch introduces it:
“In August of 2012, the NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook featured daily writing prompts from 31 different prompters. Each prompter selected at least five of his or her favourite poems written in response. Michael Dylan Welch selected from these poems to produce the online PDF book, With Cherries on Top: 31 Flavors from NaHaiWriMo”
This book is available for free download, from www.nahaiwrimo.com
I am honored to have a few haiku of my own included, and to have been one of the 31 prompters of the month!
While my first book of poetry, “In the Garden of Absence” is at the printers, being fitted into its paper dress, smoothed, sewn, and shaped physically into a book I can hold in my hands, I’d like to say
Also a huge thank you to my daughter Maria Pierides for her permission to use one of her paintings, “Welsh Hill,” for the book cover, Maria Pierides and Rubin Eynon for designing the cover, and Thomas Geyer for his help with formatting the print edition.
Special thanks to the members of the nurturing NaHaiWriMo Facebook community (now over 1000 people!) for their continuing inspiration, warm support, and encouragement.
NaHaiWriMo (The FB community National Haiku Writing Month) has been growing since its inception in February 2011. I have been a member and writing a haiku a day since then, as readers of this blog will know.
This coming August is going to be a special month.
“In Michael Dylan Welch’s (the NaHaiWriMo creator and co-ordinator’s) words,
“I’m pleased to let you know that, for the month of August, 2012, I’ve asked 31 different people to provide a single writing prompt for reach day of the month. I’ll be announcing the prompts each day, so you’ll discover not only a new writing prompt, but also learn who the day’s prompter is for each day. These 31 prompters include many of our past monthly prompters, plus a number of new folks. The prompters and prompts have all been selected, and the prompts are varied and fun, so August should be a particularly enjoyable month — and hopefully a little different, to shake things up a bit.
Now, to make this idea even more fun, I’ve asked each of the 31 daily prompters to monitor all poems posted and to select at least five favourite poems written in response to their prompt. I’ve asked them to select haiku and senryu only (no haiga, but poems used in haiga can be considered). To be selected, poems should be previously unpublished (we’ll assume so). So please post your best haiku and senryu, because the daily prompt providers will be on the lookout for their favourite poems from what you post (prompters, please also include one of your own poems if you write about your own prompt). If all goes well, I’d like to turn this into a PDF-format book that everyone can download for free. How does that sound?.
Thanks to all of you for your enthusiastic ongoing participation in NaHaiWriMo! Isn’t this place a hoot?”
Indeed, it is a hoot! An inspiring place for all haiku poets to hang around! Sharpen your pencils and smartphone styluses!
For more information about this FB community go here.