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Showing posts from 2012

Those small stones...

... not the forgotten ones I find in the corners of coat pockets or the ones I collect on solitary walks (along with tufts of sheep wool and pieces of driftwood) but the ones I've written during January for the last two years. The ones that Fiona and Kaspa, from Writing Our Way Home encourage everyone to write: read about the project here.

You can read the small stones I wrote in January 2011 on the NaSmaStoMo link above (National Small Stones Month). January 2012's daily observations, dreams, memories and captured moments are here.

I don't plan to do anything with these when I first write them. They are writing practice: free of judgement, editing or plans to publish although some of them do find their way out of this blog record and onto the pages of journals or into a potential MSS. But it's the spontaneous writing within a disciplined structure of 31 days that's the most rewarding and enjoyable aspect of this project: the sense of freedom I feel to write anythi…

forgiving the rain - thanking Snapshot Press

I have it. The cover of my new haibun collection due from Snapshot Press at the end of this month.

It has all the qualities that I hope readers will find in the contents: texture, delicacy, contrast, light and shade. A big thank you to John Barlow at Snapshot Press for all his work and insights.

forgiving the rain will be available via Snapshot's website from around 25th November, 2012. And, to make things easier for overseas haibun enthusiasts, they take Paypal : )
map reading: the desire to know where I'm going the fear of losing my way 

forgiving the rain due from Snapshot Press

all this green forgiving the rain
(first published by tiny words, 13.3.2008)
I never thought that one little haiku written in my head while driving along the motorway in the rain would end up being the title of a book... but it is and I am very happy.

forgiving the rain, my haibun collection, will be published by Snapshot Press in November 2012. Lovely.

Now to find a cover image that will serve the collection well.

haiku commentary: George Swede

wildflowers I cannot name most of me
George Swede[1]

The opening line, composed of a single word, slows me down with its first two long syllables. And that pace is perfect for the contemplation woven through this economical haiku.
The pivot line is structurally satisfying – it rocks me in (wildflowers/I cannot name) and out (I cannot name/most of me) of the haiku – as is the balance of 3/4/3 syllables. But these formal characteristic serve the ideas behind the haiku too.
The first two lines, taken as a couplet, describe a concrete experience that’s probably common to all of us: a lack of knowledge or names forgotten as we walk through the countryside. The haiku instantly involves me, invites me to share the moment.
The 2nd and 3rd lines present a different kind of couplet: a personal reflection that is both concrete and abstract. How many of us could recite the litany of parts that make up our own complex organism? And how many of us are convinced that we truly know and understand ourselves…

haiku commentary: Sharon Elyse Dean

family court
the lawyer’s tie lolls
against his gut

Sharon Elyse Dean

What can save a haiku from being mediocre – a strong image from the natural world – is what, by its absence, can make a senryu[1] feel like a weak gag. But the best senryu manage to focus on aspects of the human experience and encapsulate ideas that carry importance for the reader as well as the writer.
Sharon’s senryu paints an amusing picture for us to appreciate in lines 2 and 3: the image of a tubby lawyer, suggested by the word gut and the roundness and floppiness in the sound of lolls. Scenes from American court movies run through my mind: the despicable prosecutor or the self-satisfied defence attorney. But the first line sets the scene more particularly: this is a family court, a place where ordinary lives, lives like our own, are decided upon.
In fact, although the expression in the first line – family court – is very familiar, it is only when it is isolated in a piece of art like this that we ‘see’ it clearly…

Going organic: line break in free form haiku

This essay first appeared in Frogpond Volume 34 Number 3

Going organic: line break in free form haiku
Lynne Rees

The line is the fundamental structuring tool in writing poetry and understanding how and when and why to use it is even more essential in the writing of free verse[1] where neither poet nor reader has the guide of a predetermined metrical pattern or stanza structure. I remember the moment, back in the mid 1990s, when I suddenly ‘got’ line break, a real eureka moment that illuminated the correlation between form and content in free verse poetry.
Over the years I developed and refined my ideas about the structuring possibilities available to free verse poets but when, in 2006, I started studying and writing haiku, my, by now inbuilt, free-verse poet’s attention to form was more of a hindrance than a help. Line breaks that could be supported in a longer free verse poem were now shouting from the page. ‘Yoo hoo!’ they called. ‘Aren’t I a clever girl?!’ And no one likes a show off.

river 2012 - 31

straightfalling rain both water and ice

With many thanks to Fiona and Kaspa for the inspiration and encouragement this month.

river 2012 - 23

The metal detector man shows me his haul: 10p, 50p, some batteries, a hard lump of rock. 'And my mate found the 50p when I gave him a go,' he says. I am looking for treasure myself - the memory from my childhood of a wreck at the Ferry Bend. Mostly we never made it to the point where the River Neath divides the land, mostly we were distracted by the sand dunes, the carpets of shells, or we decided it was too far to walk anyway and turned back. Maybe there was never a wreck. There isn't today. But there is still treasure here.

river 2012 - 21

the smell of fresh laundry
at what's left of the old hospital wall

a seagull dancing
on the grass in Vivian Park

the sun wrapped in cloud
one minute and free the next

even in the cold face of the wind
laughter and the smell of the sea

river 2012 - 20

Some things don't change: the sound of the sea from a street away, a screech of seagull, the broken walls around some houses on the bend in the road. How I have started counting my steps to see how many it takes to get to school.

Some things change: the locked doors of the school, the posters in Welsh, the rise and fall of its syllables in the corridors, the mothers on the floor of the hall with their babies for free Language and Play.

Some things don't change: the little boy in Nursery who hugs the Headmistress's legs when she walks past.

river 2012 - 18

Rain overnight and this morning
not a crackle of frost on the trees
or along the kerb around the yard
only a mist of grey above
and between the bare branches.

I miss the hills, the green roll
of them swallowed by cloud.
The day is too soft for clear thought.

river 2012 - 17

Last night I played hide and seek with the cat. I know, it sounds like something you might hear in group therapy: My name is Lynne and I'm a cataholic. Play isn't a big enough part of our lives as we get older. Not playing games to win, but play that has no end result, no goal, beyond the enjoyment of the moment. Some people might call it silliness.  Silly, from the Middle English 'sely' or 'seely' meaning 'happy'. Want to do something silly today?

river 2012 - 15

Sunday morning
a sunlit patch of frost
in my neighbour's field

the first cup of tea
taken back upstairs
to bed and a book

the symbolism
of things and images

a day of slowness
and perhaps a little

river 2012 - 14

Synchronicity means while I am thinking about pancakes upstairs in bed, you are downstairs whisking up the batter.

27 years together
you show me your
pneumatic drill impression
for the first time

Lemon and sugar, butter and sugar. Good days start like this.

river 2012 - 13

You could begin with the sky
hazy with sunlight and a shimmer of cloud,
a slate roof skimmed with frost.
A red, or green or blue front door, perhaps
a carpet of fresh moss, a flower you wouldn't expect
in winter. And woodsmoke. Or the sea
peaked with foam. A good book. Conjure
the things that lead you home.

river 2012 - 12


When the morning doesn't fit, when I seem to be missing the lid of the jigsaw box that holds the pieces of my day, I leave the house and walk through the orchard to the row of leylandii and look at the depressions in the dusty ground beneath them where I'm sure the wild pheasants nestle during the day, even though I only know them from claw marks left in the dusty earth, that my hand never finds a trace of warmth in the shallow bowls, not even a feather.
Some days I catch a glimpse of them – the males barred bright gold and brown, their red wattles, the mottled females – skittering between the rows of apple trees, always keeping a distance. How could they trust us after all this time?
I startled them once, in the farmyard when I opened the back door, a dozen or more of them taking flight at the sound then sight of me: the whirr of wings loud enough to make me step back suddenly, alarm mixed with delight, flashes of green and purple returning to me at moments for the res…

river 2012 - 11

Do christmas cards count as cardboard or as paper recycling? Should they be in the green box, with the cans, or in the green bin with the cardboard packaging? It is sunrise. Through the winter trees the village looks like it could be on fire and the rest of us are watching in the dark. I decide on the green box. Part of me thinks, 'what does it matter?' while another part wants to get it right, this little thing that feeds into the bigger picture, the world beyond my life in this house where I feel safe.

river 2012 - 10

37 years ago I cried when my sister got married and left home. For fifteen years she'd slept on the other side of the room from me. We'd hit each other with hangers and hairbrushes. I'd hidden behind the door of our bedroom to jump out and frighten her when she wandered back from the bathroom at night. She called me 'child' to annoy me. And now she was leaving and becoming a wife. In wedding speeches the fathers of the bride and groom talk about gaining a son, a daughter. But all I knew was that I was losing my sister.

mobile blackspot
I sing happy birthday to my sister
in the middle of a farmyard

river 2012 - 9

Not a leaf remains on the apple trees in the orchard. We have used the last of the cherry wood on the fire. Last night we watched a movie about a man who could travel through time. Already the days are getting longer. The new year is pretty much like the old year when I remember to notice it. Today I feel lucky.

river 2012 - 7

Dream date

It's not going to work between me and Gerard Butler despite the way he hugs me, rocks me with his enthusiasm, his smile. Even though he turns away his ex-girlfriend who turns up in a gold lamé negligee. Even though he has a male assistant called Mitzi with a bald head.

He has four dogs. He feeds them on broken biscuits and crackers. His house is a warren of tunnels and secret doors. And the forest fire is getting closer, flames wrapping the hillside, running down towards the edge of the lake, which may save us, or may not. His father was Spanish, he says quietly as we leave the house with only a picnic basket.

new year a dead conifer leans across the lane

river 2012 - 5

all night high winds,
the slap of rain, flower pots
rolling along the drive, a spruce
brought down in the orchard -

we believe we are safe
behind brick and glass, under tiles,
but in a small corner of our minds
we imagine the roof lifting, the wind 

scattering the patterns of  our lives
across the Downs, practicing, maybe,
for a time when we'll have to let go.

river 2012 - 3

The people we sold the house too have lifted off the plaster on the far wall of the first floor and uncovered a section of a painted medieval wall beneath. I always knew it was there and don’t know why we didn’t do the same. But I am pleased to see it exposed now, the past rising into the present, keeping us company.

The dream is easy to interpret: I have a book to write about my hometown in South Wales. The photographs I take are the top layers of stories: at home I lift off each skin and slip deeper into other people’s lives. But I am slipping deeper into myself too: things half remembered, roads not taken.

so many questions
the wind whistles
in the wooden eaves