Wednesday, May 07, 2014


Am I a traditionalist or an innovator? No. I refuse to roost in either pigeon hole. Quite often I work within (self-imposed) constraints. Sometimes I like to see what happens when I turn things upside down, add pepper and give them a shake. When it seems right I'll write whatever comes into my head, just as it comes. Other days I edit, edit and edit again. I don't follow masters, especially not self-styled ones, but I know stars when I see them and I've got the sense to use them to navigate by. I do like a good metaphor. And plain, simple, direct language. And ambiguity. And the common or garden seen afresh. And the marvellously strange. And, and, and! Not either/or.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NaHaiWriMo 2014

I joined in with NaHaiWriMo again this year. It's always fun, a challenge and a good exercise. The resulting haiku are usually variable in quality - some prompts being a lot trickier than others - but there are usually some that I'm not too ashamed of. This year these are the ones. (Some have been revised since February).

racing clouds a crow drinks February rain

migraine aura
the world begins to
break          up
round the edges

tail of the bean
so many possibilities
expertly excised

cold light
a pile of wood-chips
by the stump

Keppler mission
the wail of the wind
rises and falls

the busker plays another one
from Trad Anon

cirrus at dusk
the brazen fullness
of the moon

free-range eggs
in the high-rise dweller's
shopping bag

beehives beside the sunlit sea a honey stall

at the waterline
a fishing boat becomes

racist comment
on the western horizon
a storm brews

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


My interest in the concise and the minimal doesn't just manifest itself in haiku. The experience of editing down to the essentials - but no further! - can be applied to other things too. Over the last few years I've been gradually reducing and simplifying my living space and personal possessions. I've done this not out of any ascetic philosophy, but because it makes me feel better - less encumbered. I enjoy the things I have more now than I did when they were lost in a sea of 'stuff'. It also has the advantage of helping me live within my means.

I've been interested to see at what point it felt right to stop. When is enough, enough? When would I reach the point at which disposing of anything else would be uncomfortable or limiting? The last thing to go was the microwave oven and I haven't missed it in the slightest. I'm now living in 32sq metres/345sq feet and it feels right. It's not as ingeniously designed as Gary Chang's famous example, but it suits me. I'm hoping it might also be a good place to settle down to writing again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Martin Lucas 1962 - 2014

Martin Lucas: front row, left. *

The day I met Martin Lucas was one of those rare perfect early summer days. I was one of a group walking along the Norfolk coast. I'd recently discovered the strange, intriguing form of poetry called haiku while browsing online and this walk, from Sheringham to Hunstanton in June 1999, was my first meeting with haiku poets face-to-face. For a while on that day I was walking with Martin Lucas and John Barlow who were discussing haiku. I was fascinated by what I heard and I recall thinking 'this is a conversation I want to be involved in' and I have been involved in it, in one way or another, through all the years since then.

Sometime during that walk I acquired my first copy of the journal Presence and it has been a favourite ever since. On those rare occasions when I gather together my published haiku I go to my Presence collection first because Martin, as editor, had a way of spotting the best and kindly returning the rest, often with a handwritten note of encouragement.

I've lost one of my first haiku mentors and it will be a more lonely path without him.

Martin's poetry showed a deep connection with the natural world and empathy with all kinds of living things, including humanity, often expressed with a touch of gentle humour. I'd like to include a small selection of his haiku and tanka here in appreciation.

the many noises of London
in the smallest hour
all that's left:
voice of the blackbird

Blithe Spirit 8/1 1998

poetry group
deep in thought;
gurgle of plumbing

 .. click.. Hub Editions, 1998

deepening winter
  darkness in the eyes
    of a chained dog

Earthjazz, Ram, 2003

a quiet stretch of river
the gull's little kick
into flight

Frogpond 26/2, 2003

summer river -
when I'm barefoot
it's forever

Presence 39  September 2009
Awarded 'Best of Issue' by popular vote in Presence 40

autumn spider running to the raincloud sky

Presence 47 December 2012


*  BHS North Norfolk Coast Park walk 1999. I would very much have preferred to get permission from everyone else in the photograph before posting but that was not possible as I do not have current contact details. If anyone has objections to it being included here please let me know and I will take it down immediately. If anyone does not object but would just like to get back in touch - please do! My new email  address can be found in my profile.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Martin Lucas missing

Martin Lucas, poet and editor of the journal Presence, has been missing since Friday 21st March. 

Photograph by Frank Williams

Martin was one of the first haiku poets I met, back in 1999 on a walk along the Norfolk coast. I know, from talking to friends and acquaintances in person and via social networks all over the world, that he is much missed. A lot of people would like to know that he's ok.

I want to do what I can and so I'm posting this in the hope that it might reach someone who knows something that might help.

If you have any information please ring the police on 101. Please share this news.

The BHS Facebook page will have updates.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

open windows
on a summer's day
the only words
I've heard my neighbour speak
'You've never loved me'

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
moon on the wane
the sound of wings
at dusk

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
finding it again
that still place
where it all begins

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
a wisp of cloud
losing itself in deep blue
tail end of a dream

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
the growing
impatience of the queen -
autumn deepens

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
city street
I fall into step
with a stranger

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011
falling leaves more of the sky

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011

can't stop the evening colours fading

Blithe Spirit Vol.21 No.4 December 2011

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Nahaiwrimo - completed!

I did complete nahaiwrimo and wrote every day but I only posted the first few here then went over to just posting them on the Facebook nahaiwrimo site. I found the prompts, and the element of responding to them publicly within a short time, to be fun - occasionally maddening, and often challenging it's true - but always motivating. I'm not sure that would continue to be the case over a longer period though. Nahaiwrimo rolls on from month to month but I need to move on to other things.

I still haven't quite worked out what I want to do with this blog.