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the beginning

In 2006 I started researching and writing contemporary English language haiku writing. I had a vague notion of what haiku was but it was anchored to my understanding of the Japanese tradition and the misconception of syllable counting.

The intervening years have expanded my knowledge and practice and I must thank the international online haiku community for the opportunity to learn from some of the most inspiring creative and critical practitioners.

The work of the following three haiku writers particularly astonished me and inspired me to persevere, to attempt to create my own haiku with economy, subtle suggestion and illumination.

still life:
the pear’s
pitted skin

finally getting
the why of loneliness —
bright sun on ice

snowy night
sometimes you can’t be
quiet enough

Since then my own haiku have appeared in international journals and anthologies and my haibun collection, forgiving the rain, was published by Snapshot Press in December 2012. Here are two haibun from the collection.

Wherever We Go, There We Are

moonlight the shadow of a tree masks the crack in the path

It is 3am on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Already 9am in France. My body says it’s time to start the day yet the darkness outside says, ‘middle of the night, go back to bed’.

Recently, there has been too much impatience between us. Kinks and ruts in the road we cannot avoid or fill, that see us blaming each other. Even the smallest roads since we arrived: filling in our immigration forms, a luggage trolley, the small trunk in the rental car.

Things in their right place at the right time. This is what I try to do too often. Like pinning butterflies to boards.

The clock is too loud. It keeps time too stringently and that is what we need to be away from: days marked by so many jobs to be done, what must be completed in the hours between waking and falling asleep.

Then I hear it. A background hum, a soft engine shifting gears. A sound present at the moment I was born: the sea.

high tide in a dream you write the word ‘reef’

For a week our roles have been reversed. I have been looking after them, checking they’ve slept well, making sure they eat enough. And they have allowed me to be the one who cares, the one in control. ‘Where does this go?’ my mother asks, standing in the middle of my kitchen with a white dish and a tea towel in her hand. ‘I had some orange juice,’ my dad says one morning before going to buy his English paper at the Bar Tabac on the corner. ‘Be careful crossing the road,’ I call after him. When I kiss them goodnight they feel breakable, in need of protection. I pull the shutters in their bedroom closed.

And now at the airport I can hardly bear to watch them moving away from me. I wave one last time as they pass through security at the Departure Gate, so small now I could pick them up between my thumb and finger and slip them in my pocket.

sunlit garden
when did my father grow
an old man’s neck?

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running haiku

run, expect nothing
after stretching the gate creaks on its hinges
worn tarmac I have forgotten where the joy lies
sand drifts across the pavement I pick up the pace
a wave of pebbles washed up along the shore laughter
the road rises at a blind corner expect nothing
half-way mark the way the sun and the sea dazzle each other
between traffic and the crash of surf the seeds of umbrella pines
in the shade at the water fountain there is nothing sweeter
down-hill the scent of a man who passes me uphill
the yellow stone of the old town across the bay another day
the smell of coffee as I pass the bakery the final push home

What happens when haiku happen

I'm delighted to post Paul Griffiths' account of a course held at Ty Newydd, near Criccieth, North Wales at the beginning of May. 'Haiku: Writing from Life and the Landscape' ran from 9th to 11th May, 2014 and it was a joy to lead. Please, join us, vicariously, for the weekend.
Haiku and haibun at Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre
This is an account of my participation in a weekend of discussing and writing haiku and haibun in a course on the theme, Haiku: Writing from Life and Landscape, held at Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre, Llanystumdwy, near Criccieth, Gwynedd, Wales, in May 2014.
Tŷ Newydd (The New House) is an old, beautiful building, looking across fields to the sea, a short walk away. David Lloyd George (1863-1945) grew up in Llanystumdwy and returned to the village in his last years, where Tŷ Newydd was redesigned for him by Clough Williams-Ellis (1883-1978), creator of Portmeirion village. Lloyd George’s grave, also designed by Williams-Ellis, stands close to the house, i…

In Interview with Jeffrey Woodward at Haibun Today

The Hungry Writer: An Interview with Lynne Rees
Lynne Rees started working with haiku forms in 2006, was haibun editor at Simply Haiku in 2008 and 2009, and co-editor, with Jo Pacsoo, of the British Haiku Society's Haibun Anthology, The Unseen Wind (2010). In 2011, she jointly edited, along with Nigel Jenkins and Ken Jones, another country, haiku poetry from Wales. Lynne has also published Learning How to Fall (poetry, 2005), The Oven House (novel, 2008), Messages (flash fiction collaboration with Sarah Salway, 2008), forgiving the rain (haibun, 2012) and Real Port Talbot (travel guide, local history & memoir, 2013).
JW: Let me ask first, with your permission, about your personal background. You come from Wales and I wonder what influence, if any, this circumstance had on your literary development and interests. The population of Wales is small when measured on the world's scale and Welsh history and culture are unique. Was a Welsh sensibility or identity formative for you …