Monday, December 31, 2007

Stanley Pelter: a hill blows up

. he dozes
...............pianos in the air
...............tip sideways
...............played by black gloved hands
...............& a white gull

a hill blows up for no apparent reason

...............the huffpuffs
...............put another its place

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in & Y Not?, 2006


ration books
she was always
a bad cook

When I was very young, skies were filled. Always. With fire smoke and gun smoke, with Spitfire aeroplanes and Spitfire bullet lights, with sounds, Barrage balloons and their ropes, ack ack guns spreading bullet tracers. Later were the new shape and sounds of ‘doodlebugs,’ Worse than this, the sky, when I was very young, was filled with their silence.

....... snowdrop time ....... but not where i live

Near the sky, when I was very young, were the flames of burning buildings, the sights of burning buildings, the roasting sound and pains of burning buildings.

.... fireworks night .... sky lights up .... with bombfires

When I was very young these sounds above the earth were everywhere. It was different on the ground. In a camouflaged hospital the maternity ward and operating theatre spreads rubble. Splintered bodies, ruined bodies were visible. Sometimes, in endless clouds of dust, only bits of entangled greys remained.

where I lived ... when I was very young ... were no untorn sheets.

We borrowed a wireless, when I was very young. Youngest of a relieved, guilt-ridden family group, I, too, listened to the sentences awarded Nazi Party leaders at the Nuremburg War Crimes Trial. They were called out in the trained deadpan voices of the legal trade. I still shiver at the sense that, latent, hanging by a thread, was the possibility of a huge explosion from within a boiling cauldron of emotion. It never happened. Restraint was a necessary and effective part of the drama.

Tod durch den Strang. Over and again death by hanging, death by hanging, death by hanging, like a heavy line of blood-cleansed washing slowly swinging in a purified drift wind.

first day of peace
i still do not know
what it means

Laughter was rationed when I was very young.

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in past imperfect, 2004

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Metal wood, stone, concrete, both mole and pier. Great grey waves rolling through the gaps under tarred planks, fine spray chills face. Fingers in pocket grip cold facets of Whitby jet necklace bought for a granddaughter, just like my wife’s mother’s.

Sudden wide grey sea and charcoaling sky hold eyes where waves, clouds roll in and in. High to left, Captain Cook’s no longer to be seen staring into dusk, stone back to whole inland country where tourists navigate his incidents of youth. Across narrow harbour lines of shops and – in salvaged house – Captain Cook Museum. On heights above those the ancient church. Caedmon’s memorial plinth, abbey ruin, gained by zig zag breathless steps, wood bench planks for weary clamberers . . . this morning’s, six year olds of Asian school, girls in head scarves, long gowns, chattering in Yorkshire accents.

All ground rising from harbour basin smothers in darkness, and the tiles and stone houses that brought us here

heirloom watercolour’s
red roofs fading
into its own twilight mists

No ships leave now, like adventure yacht this morning crammed with youngsters, slipping between raised arms of bridge. Only single fishing boat hunches across rollers to haven.

Stroll shivering back where fish and chip odours linger in brisk eddies of breeze. Occasional visitors wander town centre searching, asking where to eat. Walk up road’s long slope again, road that will carry to Robin Hood’s Bay, to Scarborough, wondering whether next morning also

on car roof gull droppings . . .
passing schoolboys’ hope
of night’s first snow

Though our hope’s to see from iron fire escape outside B & B

tall abbey walls
moored in clear sky sun

by Bernard Gadd
Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand
first published in shadow-patches, 1998

Catherine Mair: LOW TIDE

from the marae they wade waist-deep across the cold grey channel which veins the sand. for generations they’ve known the hiding place of kai moana beneath muddy sand and sea grass

wet cloth stretched –
clunk of shellfish
into a bucket

a woman tells a child – “leave the little ones”. youths play around with an old ‘bomb’ – chuckle like mud pools. we haven’t forgotten the sea elephant who flopped his girth onto the boat ramp. boaties and fishermen scratched their heads beneath towelling hats; didn’t venture too close

high in banksia
bellbirds show off
their range of notes



marae - a meeting place
kai moana - food from the sea
banksia - is not a Maori word; there's no 'b' in the Maori alphabet. It is an Australian tree, named after Sir Joseph Banks

Catherine Mair,
Katikati, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
first published in shadow-patches, 1998


shadow-patches, haibun by Janice M. Bostok, Bernard Gadd and Catherine Mair. Hallard Press. 1998. ISBN 0-86477-045-6.

Reviewed by Patricia Prime

This selection of haibun, published almost a decade ago, brought together three authors. Janice M. Bostok, Bernard Gadd and Catherine Mair are well-established writers of haiku and related forms of Japanese short poetry. Their haibun have been previously published or are printed here for the first time. Artwork is by Janice M. Bostok.

Haibun’s imagistic prose and haiku-like verse connect in the reader’s imagination and memory events or details encountered as part of a real or imaginary event. Like haiku, haibun aim at insight. The haibun in this readable and accessible collection are part of the developing distinctive New Zealand haibun voice.

Each poet contributes nine haibun. Janice M. Bostok is an Australian poet, editor and artist and her work has been published widely both in Australia and overseas. Many of her haibun relate to nature, her country, relationships and life on her family farm. The title of the collection comes from her poem “Getting Off The Round-About”:

An outdoor light snaps on. A branch shadow-patches curtains, walls, and ceiling. Another slow revolution, then

with each gust leaves
against the window

“Winter Beach” is a poem about a solitary walk beside the Pacific Ocean:

I wake to the sounds of surf, for a moment not knowing where I am. Then I remember 5 a.m. Cold light enters through the hoary window. The Pacific ocean at full tide laps the frontage to the cottage. Fog clings to distant cliffs, today will be

grey seeping through
the walls

“Coming To Grips” relates details about life on the family’s banana plantation, where humour is to be found despite the many hardships of farming life:

We have lived on this banana plantation for many years. Years of struggle, heartbreak, budgeting bank loans, of baby nappies hanging limply in the January heat. When rain breaks through it’s a stinging sweaty heat. In a more humorous moment I once wrote:

tropical rain
brings lush green grasses –
and mould on my shoes

In “Two-Thirds Of A Trilogy” we see the poet meditating on “thirty-three years of memories,” her two marriages to the same man, and their handicapped son:

Our son is placed in care. Weeks into months, months into years. We visit, every second month, drive six hours each round trip. Exhausted, physically, emotionally, we separate, divorce. I build a small cottage on the farm.

In “One Lifetime Is Never Enough” we encounter the failing health of the poet’s husband, his appointment with a specialist and the poet’s solitary drive home from the hospital:

The long drive home from the hospital alone, I talk to myself. A sticky film of light rain muddies the windscreen. His words telling me to drive carefully keep resounding in my head. He recovered! He’s safe in hospital! I don’t want to have an accident, now. Images from the night before he entered the hospital keep returning.

we caress the same thought holding us together
each time may be our last

Bernard Gadd has published haiku, tanka, haibun, and other poetry and fiction in New Zealand and elsewhere. His haibun contain topics such as a visit to Britain, a trip to Japan, a girl’s fall from a derelict railway bridge, a chance meeting in a maze and the poet writing at his computer.

“Kotohira-Gu Shrine” details the poet’s visit to Japan, where he was entertained by two of his ESOL students, Mieko and Akie:

An old man starts talking to me in Japanese. “He admires New Zealanders,” Akie translates. “Your country is against nuclear weapons.” It’s a chance to use one of my few Japanese words. “Arigato,” thanks.

we sit
smile wordless
toast each other with iced tea

“White Roar” takes place in New Zealand, where white water rafting is one of the pleasures enjoyed by tourists and others:

worn planks thrum, dark grey rock descends fern gripped from blue/white sky meander from left narrow mumbling spume of water spills far to, deep under timber, white river roar

but in this haibun a simple pleasure turns into something scary as a girl falls (or is pushed) “slipping spiralling towards water rush”

frond curls
an instant
at collar bone

In “Riding the Gondola,” the poet and his wife take a gondola ride with two visiting Japanese students:

The girls fidget. Fir tips arrow up now through emptiness. Hawser seems slacker. Girl opposite pulls shaking handle within sleeves of overcoat her Osaka grandfather’s lent.

in still glass gondola
summit snow

Catherine Mair has published haiku, tanka, haibun, poetry and short stories. She was editor of WinterSpin and instigated the Katikati Haiku Pathway as part of her town’s Millennium Project. Many of Catherine’s haibun in this collection are based around a visit to Europe. She writes about a canal boat trip, staying with friends in Heidelberg, moving on to Romania, a Maori family on a New Zealand beach, and a mysterious death in the New Zealand bush. Catherine also contributes an “Afterword . . . Talking About Haibun.”

“Rafting” takes place in Heidelberg, where the poet visits a fleamarket, goes shopping and visits the castle with her friend and the friend’s sister, when she would much rather be sightseeing on her own:

I take note of landmarks, track my way around Heidelberg like a Dachshund (German . . . Dache=badger, Hund=dog)

. . . dicing shallots
making the chore last

Both “Dinosaur Island” and “Tararu Creek Road” have New Zealand settings: the first is about the tuatara and the second about the disappearance of a young girl in bushland:

over Moutohora Island sun rises. Shafts reach into burrow. Two creatures stir

bloodshot eyes
squint . . . hollow earth
quakes with groan

“Tararu Creek Road”:

why didn’t the rangers move closer – question the blonde girl in the glade – the girl with downcast eyes . . . silent . . .

two small cairns
swimming hole

waiting around
another bush-fringed corner
Sarsha’s brown eyes

The language of the haibun is rich and complex – from abstract language to voice, which illuminates and unravels many different experiences. In addition, there are vivid and thorough descriptions, along with examples of good haiku that illustrate the haibun. In some cases, the poems show the evolution of the form as these poets process the habun into their individual styles. It’s a guide to the haibun that poets were writing ‘yesterday,’ with intriguing hints as to what ‘tomorrow’ might hold.

Some of these haibun now appear quite dated as they display an erratic prose style in which images transfer themselves to our minds with a flash, as if projected on a movie screen. Sometimes the haibun appear vacant, generalised, uncompelling, but we have to remember that these were some of the first haibun published in New Zealand and they do have an ‘historical’ value.

These are haibun that we can be used to effectively discuss the craft as it continues to grow in New Zealand; that contain concepts that will help to broaden and stimulate the creative process of writing haibun. The poets’ ‘from-experience’ viewpoints and spirited voices keep shadow-patches relevant, despite its period characteristics, and it is not only easy to read, but hard not to.

by Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Where did they go, those pretty words like ‘eventide’? Pushed aside to make room in our dictionaries for ‘phish’ or ‘spam’? Maybe it’s an evolution we’re smack in the middle of and don’t know it, an evolution in which the glossies and movies and television will do all the work for us and we won’t need pretty words anymore…and Dante, well, let him curse us from his sepulcher, for what do we care about dead guys or moody times of the day like ‘eventide’ anyway? It’s just a fancy word for ‘happy hour’ isn’t it?

at eventide
an everness descends
on the seaside town

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia


You wear it and it snows: tracks empty the park outside the museum. A promo pen blues

your breast-pocket lining, and a snag starts to pull at your sleeve. The last one left

is as good as extinction
. So says the quote on the leaking plastic.

But someone’s pinkie shined of wax on this second-hand tweed

flecks the lapel with an old, cleared hearing – conversation recorded in a stain.

The branches listen in, for this tree is like talk and there’s always a point

from which you are behind it, windows lighting up in the dinosaur wing.

by Charles Hansmann
Sea Cliff, New York
first published in Snap Poetry Journal

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ray Rasmussen: THE BAMBOO RAKE

A warm spring sun, the fields finally free of snow. Yellow warblers, freshly arrived from places south, sing from the just budding trees and shrubs.

An old man works a small patch of ground with a bamboo rake. He's short, stocky, brown-skinned and has the eyes of the orient. He wipes sweat from his brow, glances up at me and then swings his eyes towards a second rake.

I drape my coat on a wooden fence and begin to work. The rake's pliant tines allow me to clear winter's debris without damaging the plants beneath. He stoops from time to time and places his hands above the green shoots. I stoop and do the same, but feel nothing.

He shakes his head, then tugs my shirtsleeve and leads me to a nearby field—to a bloom of white flowers, to the fragrance of violets, the hum of bees. He tugs again and leads me to a beehive, dips in a twig and offers a taste. Sweetness explodes in my mouth.

On our return to the unfinished field, we once again stoop and place our hands over the ground, welcoming the plants into the world of sun and air.

We finish the field and he turns to me and bows. Awkwardly, I return the bow and reluctantly, I hand him my rake.

spring sun —
cedar waxwings fill
the leafless plum

by Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta
haiku first published in Heron's Nest, 2005
haibun first published in Contemporary Haibun Online, V1, N1, June 2005

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Patricia Prime: WHITE & RED

.................The plum blossom
.......that I thought I would show to my man
...........cannot be distinguished now
.................from the falling snow

................Yamabe Akahito
(Love Songs from the Man’yoshu, Vol. 8, 1426)

early spring
the snow falls softly
on white blossoms
this evening alone –
how cold it is

a sprig of flowers
I pick to place in
an emerald vase
bends under the weight of snow
fallen in the night

a serene painting
white on white
not the red
of plums that will ripen
when we meet in autumn

I admire the flowers
the faintest tick of snow
against the window
red roses sprinkled
on a white duvet

Nightfall - I approach the house. Through the lit window I see a man in a cashmere jumper, a woman in a white evening dress with a string of pearls around her neck. Her hair the black of a raven’s wing, her lips painted scarlet. They sit side by side in front of the piano, playing Mozart with two hands – their free hands around each other’s waists. Discarded outer clothes in a heap beside the fire. On a table, an open bottle of red wine and two glasses . . . I stand watching these two people immersed in each other. They’re friends of mine, arrived early for dinner. I’d left the door open when I went to gather the blossoms for a table piece. They’ve let themselves in – two people playing solely for each other.

by Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Katherine Samuelowicz: MOROCCO MAY 2004

high from a house roof in the kasbah i look at snow covered mountains at a fertile green oasis neatly separated with a clean chirurgical cut from yellowy brown desert at kapusta cabbage heads in neat rows among date palms

in Chellah on Roman columns nasze bociany Polish storks and nasze malwy our hollyhocks against façades of palaces with their intricate carved wood stucco and tilework i nasze przydrozne maki and our red poppies among graves of rulers long dead

in Zagora where a road sign proclaims 52 days to Timbuktu (by camel) a flock of girls runs from school freshly starched school uniforms bright smiling eyes hair in plaits laughing wanting to know where we’re from asking for bonbons

i think about my father
my hair in long plaits
walking together
through a pine forest
all things i was to be

silence all eyes on images from Abu Ghraib prison on the TV screen mint tea and coffee getting cold in my mind’s eye i see a sunny day in Brisbane among thousands of people

a young girl
in a wheelchair
walking for peace

by Katherine Samuelowicz
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
first published in Yellow Moon 16, Summer 2004

Katherine Samuelowicz: MEETING YOU

a blue winter warsaw sky ice crystal stretched like a drum stretched like a bow ready to let the arrow fly stretched to the breaking point stretched to the point that a high sound would shatter it pieces would scatter everywhere and maybe a white light will explode like when you make love and it’s good most of the time love making is a pretty pedestrian affair but sometimes it’s good and white light explodes at the back of your brain and keeps exploding and exploding and your whole being shatters into millions billions of pieces pieces breaking and breaking and yet in each of them there is a whole of you and all you’ve got is someone’s arms to hold you together

years later
i miss myself
as i was with you

by Katherine Samuelowicz
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
first published in Yellow Moon 19, Winter 2006

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Crayons spread across the bedside table in her room. She's had recent surgery but I don't know her name. Is she mom's age? I clip on my nursing home volunteer badge. Would she like a visitor?

She's coloring – a big red Christmas bow in process on the page, each stroke deep. "I'm going to hang it over there," she points.

My kindergarten voice, "That's so nice." Her eyes motion, a stack of drawings on the chair. "Can I see them?"

I sort through her papers – candy canes, baskets, a snowman, a single sketchbook at the bottom. "It's okay," she tells me. "Open it."

Black and whites – I run my fingers along each page slowly, then stop. This drawing – a house blanketed by snow, pleats laced and pulled back into loops, a wreath in the middle of each. A front walk, shoveled, leading my eyes to the door knob. Along the way, pencil surrounded by Crayola hues, circles one by one on either side of the bell.

sitting in mom's rocker
this year's Christmas lights

by Tish Davis
Dublin, Ohio

Richard Straw: BUSY BEING BORN

It's early December, and thick snowflakes are falling, brightening what's left of an afternoon. My sister and I clomp home in our unsnapped black galoshes the half-block from the elementary school. We try not to drop our latest artwork on the wet slate sidewalk. The yellow-curtained outside basement door is unlocked. So, we droop our wet caps and scarves and coats on the rickety clotheshorse at the bottom of the steps. Ice melts from our boots and socks, which we leave on yesterday's newspaper spread over a rug on the landing. Our cats sniff at the ice puddles as we climb the stairs.

In the overheated kitchen, mom's baking sugar cookies shaped like pine trees and sprinkling them with sweet green crystals. Shiny metal cookie cutters for a bell, a star, and a snowman wait on floured wax paper spread across the black countertop. When dad gets home from the factory, mom tells us, we'll all go out after supper to find a live Christmas tree. And by bedtime, just as she promised, a tall evergreen has been wedged into a red metal tripod base filled with tap water. The tree's too wide for the sun-room where mom's caged canaries sing, so it fills a space to the right of the red brick fireplace. Mom spreads old sheets below it to catch any falling needles. Next to the bare tree, our tee-shirted dad sits in a black armchair, his feet in gray socks crossed on a footstool. Mom tells him that pine smells better than his Pall Malls and Maxwell House coffee. He laughs a "good night," then reopens the newspaper with his big hands as we hurry with mom up the stairs.

The next morning, a Saturday, dad brings down boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic and helps mom string the tree with blinking white lights and the more fragile ornaments. They top it with an electric, golden-winged angel, but let us toss the tinsel and hang the ornaments we made at school and in church. As a last item, I hook a thin, long-faced wooden Santa in a threadbare suit next to my sister's pink plastic ballerina in a white tutu. Mom hangs from golden hooks on the wooden mantel red stockings trimmed in white and stuffed with candy, bubble gum, and other treats for each of us, even the cats.

On Sunday, there's something new on the blond TV cabinet. The old clock that usually sits on faded white lace, the one with the pretty girl on a swing, is gone. In its place a new crèche rests between two toy spruces on green felt, all sprinkled with white glitter to look like snow. A hole for the Star of Bethlehem has been cut into the stable's front panel, and an electric socket for a night light is in the back. Angels of the Lord, the Wise Men, sheep and shepherds (one with a lamb on his shoulders), and a camel form a half-circle before the wood-paneled stable. A cow reclines nearby under a poinsettia. Jesus is in his manger, and Mary and Joseph kneel beside him.

Two weeks before Christmas on a late gray Sunday afternoon, dad and mom bundle us into the back seat of their red-and-white Ford Fairlane. We drive downtown, turn right at the courthouse, then head north on Main. Turning left at the radio station near the pet clinic, we begin to see white cornfields partially crossed by thin-slatted snow fences. The wind tries to push the high drifts closer to the lonely farmhouses and silent silos and barns. We glide over the hump of a railroad track and slowly ease across a one-lane bridge. Brown seedpods of cattails and tall shrubs tell where the riverbanks end.

Across from a Methodist church in mom's old home village, we pile out under a streetlight. Entering a small house by its back door, we leave our boots in a mudroom attached to a cluttered garage. Opening the door to the flower-wallpapered kitchen releases a wave of warmth and smells of ham, meatloaf, green beans, mashed and scalloped potatoes, and coffee. The room's abuzz with aunts in aprons who say "hello, how are you," and reprimand uncles for dipping their fingers in the pots. My sister and I quickly find the little room behind the stairs where we play Old Maid and Chutes 'n' Ladders with our cousins.

After supper, an uncle snores in an armchair, a baby on his lap, while the others talk with grandpa and grandma in the kitchen about the new President's first year in office. The men have more cherry pie and sip creamy, sugared coffee. The women finish up the dishes. On the carpet in the glow of the TV, my favorite cousin and I giggle as we watch Tiger Lily lean and sing and prance and dance with her band of Indian friends: "Ugga wugga wigwam!...Ugga wugga meatball!!"

spiraling snow
shadows of footprints
on a front yard

Notes: The title is from " It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)," a 1965 Bob Dylan song: "...he not busy being born / Is busy dying." Tiger Lily's dance from the December 8, 1960, NBC broadcast of Mary Martin as "Peter Pan" can be viewed on YouTube.

by Richard Straw

Cary, North Carolina

Monday, December 24, 2007

Diana Webb: TAKEAWAY

Waiting for a chow-mein ―
across the road
the last horse chestnut leaves
flap bedraggled,
a few buds gleam...

Always it seems I'm waiting ―
under the horse-chestnut,
a bollard in the bluebells...

'Chinese' coming soon ―
leaves turning,
odd ones blown free
flutter down the breeze...

....... Chow Mein ―
....... in the gutter
....... uncollected conkers

by Diana Webb
London, England
first published in Blithe Spirit, June 2006


I often sit in cafes watching people of the town go by. People with shopping trolleys, wheelchairs, kids in buggies, white sticks, dogs... I drink tea at a pavement table. A woman and two small girls tuck in at the one next door. I hear the words 'that lady'. The mother turns to me and says, "My daughter just said, 'that lady looks as if she's looking for mischief.'"

from afar,
his measured tap,
his eyes' twinkle

by Diana Webb
London, England
first published in Blithe Spirit, September 2007

Sunday, December 23, 2007


In Scotland it is in Nottinghamshire; in England it is not. A sign colourfully states: ‘Gateway to Lincolnshire.’

Once dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, for reasons time obliterates, the church in Claypole dropped St. Paul. Sufficiently ancient to be mentioned in the Domesday survey, inevitably the original wooden Saxon church was rebuilt. Today it still confirms and solidifies the faith of a dwindling congregation. Not belonging to this butter group it is neither my social centre nor a fear support system.

In an unusually soporific vault this evening’s concert play the work of Joseph Boden de Boismortier. He was prolific, and successfully cross-fertilised Italian and French styles and traditions. Melodies were concise with imitative dialogues. It worked! He was popular! An eclectic programme, it is performed by the homely Passacaglia Quartet, consisting of Flute, range of Recorders, Viola da Gamba and a Harpsichord lavishly painted à la Italianate Watteau.

a ... 1 .. 2 .. 3 .. 4
recorders in harmony
filter church air

This is not sacred music. Secular background to a turbulent French musical and social scene, it reflects a period when the rich could become their extravagant parties. Held in private gardens of private homes, a temporary mask of transference covered their lives. ‘Dressing down’ for a short exciting time, with no fear of hunger or impending danger, they copied and enacted a pastiche of their peasant workers and tenants. Lots of fun before clambering back through their Rococo-framed mirrors.

a pair of ravens
swoop through their conversation
ornate reflections

An interval. Miss wigglebum sitting next to me leans over my sketchbook with an innocent directness. She compares the drawing with the instruments left in positions of angled order. Had she failed to see the space between Viola da Gamba and floor? The evening package includes a drink. I move to the door of carved paneling, tracery and handmade nails.
........... ½ way through
................... an evening of bright music
......................... a yesterday voice
“Stanley Pelter?” ‘If I had a pound,’ as my mum used to say, ‘for every time I’ve heard my name spoken as a question,’ and that instant fear of failing to recognize the person within the voice, ‘I would be a rich man.’ Beyond the contemporary hairstyle, fashionable, smartly expensive dress, balanced, tasteful shoes and mature make-up, a flashed recollection of a forgetting. Familiarity at a distance.

her neat smile
fills with planned colours
blonde hair streaks settle

She seems more beautiful, more together, more in control than someone I would know in that far-flung centre of an overcrowded and disabled memory. Something structural vaguely reminds me of the different person she used to be in whatever part of my life we inhabited together. She does look good, exuding a remote touchability. I want to, but do not. “Sue Archer. I used to be Sue Mount.” My face, suddenly bustling, curls into a masked smile of recognition. “I’m still in touch with Jennie Rapp. You do remember Jenny, don’t you?”

Now here was a skinny-dip swim in a far-flung lake. For a time Jenny lodged with us. We had a number of Butler-led, Waitress-fed dinners with her parents who spread throughout the evening, gently probed for anything that might hint at drug-related experiments. Their, well, mainly sober daughter? It is one of nature’s curiosities how different parents deal with such concerns. For a time, Spike Milligan phones daily, obsessively enquiring into the welfare and well being of a daughter, temporarily stationed with us. Polite, direct, always serious, it hid a neurotic need to know whether, with magic powder, I am protecting her from a hyperactive drug scene. I hide behind fluffy, establishment ‘student confidentiality.’

Retrospection inspired by this flashing light from an exciting past fails to halt the machine gun fire of questions. Asked so musically the abstract sounds are more pleasurable than the content. “Where do you live? Whare are you doing here? Are you ….?” “In this village, here, in Claypole. And you?” “Not the next village but the one beyond. Brandon. I’ve a son. Starting an Art degree course soon. Chelsea. Divorced now. And you? You visited me in that god-awful College, in god-awful Stoke-on-Trent. Why did you send me there, of all god-forsaken places?” “Well, at the time, for the subject you wanted, in the way you wanted to study….”

“Please take your seats; the concert will continue in 2 minutes.” Just time for a telephone number and address before the interval finally collapses. Without looking back, sweating a bit, I regain my front pew seat; next Miss wigglebum and her looking-as-if-she-wants-to-talk-to-me mother. I give a shorthand smile and open my keep-me-private sketchbook at a clean page. ‘Sonata in D Major op 91/1; Pièce de Viole; Deuxième Livre and Gentilesse op 45/5 in G Major.’

musicians death mask .. inside a transparent box .. his music silent

By the time I am ready to leave, she had gone. I cannot tell you what I remember about her.

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in past imperfect, 2004

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Gary LeBel: DEED

............ ‘Oh, that was the life of young gods in the forest,
............ and how could one think to live without it!’

.................... Conrad Richter, The Light in the Forest

Though summery warm, the wind blows through the pines with all the gravitas of late December; the wide river slips languorously west. With a continual shedding rain of yellow leaves, the forest is a bright nexus of glittering corridors: Mythos is never more than an inch away for those who would chase an afternoon through a patch of woodlands forever if they could, though a sadness bores through the loam of reverie because such undivided pleasures are nearly always found along paths one takes alone.

Signed in a scrawl
of hickory smoke,
Achelous grants me
the deed to every river
I have ever known.

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia


Leaving a trail of wet fields, mists moved snail-like through the colored leaves of this Mississippi morning.

All day long as we drive home from field work, I gather up the grasshoppers of passing landscapes into the Mason jar of my mind. When we stop for gas or sandwiches, I shake the jar a little, and let them all go.

For a hundred miles now
his silence
and mine,
no need to people them
with fictions.

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia

Friday, December 21, 2007


Correspondent: Lynne Rees

A warm hello to all Haibun Today readers and many thanks to Jeffrey for offering me the opportunity to be UK Correspondent, although I hope no-one attaches any significant degree of expertise and knowledge to that title! I’m new to writing haibun, and haiku writing in general, having only stepped over from writing free-verse, and prose fiction and memoir in the middle of last year, but I have become quite obsessed with haibun as it brings together the two forms that I love the most – poetry and short prose. What I hope to do from time to time on this site is to share a number of things with you: publication outlets in the UK, as well as book and other news, and some of my own general musings on the form…

Today in this rural corner of Kent, in South East England, the frost in the farmyard is staying white and crisp in the December sunlight and the image is so striking I feel desperate to capture it in a haiku! For the moment, though, that image remains an image, and even if I’ve already found half a dozen ways to express it, it’s still only description, it has no meaning. As description it might charm a reader, but it won’t take them anywhere else, there won’t be that sense of ignition between my words and the reader’s imagination that enriches their experience, somehow, of their life, the world, the spark that encourages them to feel and think. Maybe I ask too much of haiku. Maybe I’m imposing myself too much. But ‘meaning’ is what matters to me when I read so I feel a responsibility to return that when I write.

When I say ‘meaning’ I’m not talking explicit lessons, long explanations, and banging a point home for the reader, but more the subtle meanings that arise from literature where language has been chosen with such care that it suggests ideas and themes, makes me consider the world and my relationship to it, helps me see things in a slightly different light. And that’s what I want to achieve in all my writing, whatever the form.

Bruce Ross [1] in his book How to Haiku, says, If a haiku is an insight into a moment of experience, a haibun is the story or narrative of how one came to have that experience. The words ‘story’ and ‘narrative’ suggest, traditionally, character development and some kind of ‘tension’ or ‘conflict’, and while character development is more or less self-explanatory, in that we expect some kind of change to take place, what about the terms ‘tension’ and ‘conflict’?

For me, these don’t necessarily signify spectacular, unusually dramatic events or crises, and I prefer to use the terms ‘connections’ and ‘disconnections’. All good ‘stories’, whether fictional or drawn from life, tend to work with physical, emotional, and/or psychological connections and disconnections (within the self, between characters, between characters and their environment, to name a few) and paying attention to these essential ingredients of prose writing in our haibun is one way to ensure we don’t just write beautiful, but potentially meaningless, description, that we engage our readers, ask them to be involved in ‘the life’ on the page.

Of course, as haibun writers we have an additional source of tension to exploit: the tension between the prose and the poetry. This is an area I’m researching at the moment in relation to the specific function of the haiku and their placing: how they can, amongst other things, work as a frame, or as intervals, or scene shifters, or reinforce a theme, or even, though I’m yet to manage it successfully, encapsulate another voice, in the way of the chorus in Greek tragedy. Lots of exciting possibilities. As w.f. owen, editor at Simply Haiku [2], says, in his definition of haibun, The haiku often is oblique, yet connected relevantly, to the narrative… a springboard toward new possibilities of meaning.

The haibun is a form that has so much potential for both writer and reader. I’m so pleased to be part of this online venture and look forward to the journey.

by Lynne Rees
Kent, England

[1] Bruce Ross, How to Haiku: a writer’s guide to haiku and related forms, Tuttle Publishing 2002

[2] Simply Haiku

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Katherine Samuelowicz: HIS GRANDMA'S ORANGE

admiring roses
given to me
on my birthday
my mother
can’t recall my name

it’s time to leave to go to the airport I come to my mum saying “mamo, I have to go now, I’m going home, I’ll come back soon, keep well” I kiss her. she sits still, not moving, on the sofa. I walk towards the door. I turn back, come back to her, hug her again she doesn’t hug me back but she is not resisting either. I say again “mamo, I have to go now, I’ll be back soon, see you soon” I put my arms around her, I kiss her. no reaction, again I pick up my bag and start walking towards the door. and again I can’t leave like that without getting some response from her, I keep returning to her, my sister turns away tears in her eyes. I give up after yet another try and then when I’m almost at the door picking up an orange from the bowl of fruits on the table my mum says “take this for Oli”. tears in my eyes I take the orange, put it in my pocket. Brisbane airport

Oli’s arms around me
in quarantine bin
his grandma’s orange

by Katherine Samuelowicz
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Patricia Prime: FOLLOW THE LINE

He stands outside the small white church his great-granduncle built, talking to the vicar about the cost of renovation. Inside floors and pews smell of old polish. Each kneeler is hand-embroidered. Banners behind the altar in English and Maori depict Russell’s significance as one of the first places in New Zealand to receive the Bible in Maori. I hear you breathing. There is a stir of dust behind the photographs. The stone steps to the door are whitewashed and worn down. Gravestones disintegrate. Here in the summer light stone lilies and angel's wings hold the heat. We turn aside to photograph each other against the sundial and the gate. We will send a photo to an old friend of ours who was once a vicar here. Sunset draws the evening in and colours diminish leaving us cold.

sailor’s plot
his name
barely legible

by Patricia Prime
Auckland, New Zealand
first published in Contemporary Haibun Online, V3, N3, Sept. 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Katherine Samuelowicz: NUDE

clothes discarded one by one only an amber necklace earrings a few rings a bangle left

his hands
on my breast
searching for death

by Katherine Samuelowicz
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia


A few months ago the neighbors across the street lost their second child in late term. Their house stands empty this morning, the curtains drawn open, a few lights on, lifeless, sold. I hardly knew them. Upstairs our two teens are sleeping like royalty in their rooms: what do I know about sorrow?

morning twilight
I crack the ice
for thirsty dogs

by Gary LeBel
Cumming, Georgia

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Curtis Dunlap: COLD SNAP

He appears nervous, shifting his weight on one leg, then the other, as he informs me that he doesn't feel well and he's going home. He hands me his task list, turns around, and clocks out. I note that all of the work on the list has been completed early, which means he probably didn't take a morning or lunch break. I start to call after him, to ask if there is something wrong, but a moment of hesitation silences my question. It's none of my business if he wants to take the remainder of the day off; I've been thinking about taking a day or two myself.

The next morning a couple of maintenance workers find him slumped behind the steering wheel of his car in a parking lot near the coroner's office. Despite the lack of a note and no history of suicidal tendencies, his death is ruled "self-inflicted."

crack of a stick
underfoot —
killer frost

by Curtis Dunlap
Mayodan, North Carolina

Roger Jones: ALZHEIMER'S

I'm starting to understand: the mother I grew up with isn’t here now ― only the stranger who stands by the ringing phone and cannot remember what she is supposed to do with it.

clinging to the pine bough
but gone as well ―

by Roger Jones
New Braunfels, Texas
first published in Modern Haiku, V38, N1, Winter/Spring 2007

Announcement: CHO V3, N4 Now Online

Contemporary Haibun Online, V3, N4 is now available with 35 haibun from 26 different poets. A number of the contributors will be familiar as contributors to Haibun Today as well: Hortensia Anderson, Collin Barber, Sharon Dean, Lynn Edge, Jeffrey Harpeng, Mike Montreuil, Ray Rasmussen, Lynne Rees, Adelaide Shaw and Richard Straw.
Editors Ken Jones, Jim Kacian and Bruce Ross contribute interesting haibun as well.

Congratulations are also due to Ray Rasmussen. His article "Characteristics of Contemporary English-Language Haibun" (first printed at Haibun Today earlier this month) is now posted at the CHO site as well.

Monday, December 17, 2007


1 ― Purging the story

The weather here runs on a different set of variables: the collective sum total of wish intensity. Oddly, the least common weather is a clear blue sky. Here, speculation about a God is more intense than ever.

House and forest merge. My bed is a downy tree canopy. At first I thought there was no sleep here, until I found that night must be invited. A nut on the limb of the lowest branch rolls under my sleep, rubs me with earthy dreams.

Destinations are intentions. Tomorrow I will travel to 1912 to see where that photo of my grandfather was taken: somewhere in Deutschland, port town, river town, corner of a brick building, nondescript reflections in the windows. I also want to meet that old spark of his. What is that book, held loose in her hands, hung loose over a peasant smock?

on leave photo
hand on mother's chair ― 1917
the world in their faces

They say that from each point in time you can test the crossroads and see what else might have been, even the hazy blue where you never were. Those who have visited there report the sound of a great spacious note, quavering with a fifth above, something like a bell, but in a vocal space, and giddy with a constant sense of expansion.

I was told it is the voice of the muse. Others claim it is deity. Some just say it is what it is.

Today, a red frog hopped into the kitchen, sat on the white tiles and all my turmoil of the jobs I hated flowed out of me. “Yes!” I said “you sure were hungry.” “Croak!” said the bloated frog and hopped away.

2 ― Limbo

The dance as a form of transport ― we arrive where we started, but lighter with dizziness, almost childlike. Sometimes I see wings come out of people's mouths when they speak. I met a man who spoke bat wings, a woman who spoke hummingbird. I'm told my dialect is a mixture of albatross and crow with some occasional cockatoo.

We are no longer tone deaf in our conversations: - A sister of my grandfather said to me, “Sing along with the bouncing heart.”

country road
in the irrigation ditch
the moon follows

One of the favoured pastimes here is to ride the slippery slide. There is always a happy queue. There I met the boy who fell off the slippery slide in the school playground when we were in grade two. He broke his arm. He was with his twin brother. They invited me to go and play in the old quarry. Visiting that filled in place, I caught a glimpse of myself talking to the sky, “Are you there God, are you there?”

I felt like I was at the edge of a whirlpool, and nothing but blue sky ringing back tones of blue.

old factory
beams and joists and weeds ― sound
a car starting

3 ― Fading echoes

I woke up with that rushing sound you get when you are about to faint. Only twice in my life had I known it. First, when giving blood and the other was like some omen the heart would tell about my son's future. I was talking to the paediatrician late in my wife's first pregnancy, when suddenly the air was let out of the valve that pressurises the senses. Now, though, I wasn't fading to black.

There was a fine corona around everything. It seemed to me the meaning of everything was expanding like the universe. Talking to the universe, I said “The afterlife is no more than perceiving the expansion of meaning.” Another voice in me added, “So you say!”

hands in coat pockets
through marram grass dunes
gray sky gray sea

As if I was the pebble bed of a clear stream, shudders of light on the surface. As if I was some place years away, thousands of miles away, a child or the memory of childhood. Sheets are pulled up to my nose in frosty darkness. The rest of the world could be thousands of miles away, in the next room and I was receiving faint crystal-set-radio-voices. Those voices expanded through my life, and now...

4 am
the frost breaker

by Jeffrey Harpeng
Macgregor, Queensland, Australia

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Three weeks ago, in addressing the readers of Haibun Today, I outlined my primary motives for establishing this journal. The needs that drew me to do so were not numerous nor particularly complicated, viz., the dearth of haibun-specific venues for haibun poets and the absence of any outlet for ongoing critical dialogue on the genre.

With haibun’s relatively undefined status and constantly changing ‘rules’ in mind, I asserted that HT sought to present writers of every ‘persuasion’ and every ‘school,’ insisting that haibun in English was too young and that it was premature to seek to elaborate and establish prescriptive rules for proper composition. I am convinced that this is the situation we find ourselves in today as the year 2007 comes to a close.

I regret that I did not stress a collateral issue sufficiently, though it finds a logical premise in our desire to initiate and extend a critical dialogue on the genre and our policy of tolerance toward persons of differing ‘persuasion.’

One problem I wish to ameliorate is what is very likely a by-product of the relative novelty of haibun as well as of the widely-dispersed haikai communities that first nourished the genre and where haibun made its initial steps toward adolescence and mature independence. It is easy to forget, at times, that only in the past ten years have poets stepped forward who have established their reputations predominately as writers of haibun, e.g,, David Cobb or Ken Jones, Jim Kacian or Bruce Ross.

This difficulty that I allude to, this barrier to haibun development, arises from the parochialism that was born of emerging haibun writers working in relative isolation and, hence, innocence of each other’s activities. Not only would a competent haibun poet in North America be unlikely to be in contact with his counterparts in the UK or in Australia and New Zealand, but the haibun poet in New York might be ignorant of his comrade in New Mexico, the one in Melbourne of his fellow in Auckland. Such circumstances are limiting and will deform, if unchecked, any artistic or intellectual discipline. Upon such barren ground, haibun has celebrated its first flowering.

So I want to place due emphasis not only upon a desire to show tolerance among competing schools of thought but upon a spirit of wakefulness and curiosity, also, that extends beyond local particularity and beyond national borders.

Essays, articles and documentation of the evolving haibun scene must play a role in initiating dialogue. Any increase in communication among haibun writers ― today separated more by geographical happenstance than individual interest – can only be viewed as a positive development. Not every poet is given to drafting polemical essays and programmatic statements on points of haibun technique or theory. This much is understood. Yet even the presentation in close proximity of the diverse haibun of many hands – work arising from different locales and continents, work often motivated by rival aesthetic assumptions and views – even such a simple juxtaposition adds to our knowledge, thereby defining parameters and isolating problematic areas for further investigation.

The presence of a haibun community may fairly be judged invisible or an invention of this editor’s rhetoric. No formal organization exists for haibun writers such as the various national haiku and tanka societies. There are a few small and scattered groups – primarily online forums where poets post and critique haibun. Some writers correspond on relevant issues. Beyond such informal and transitory phenomena, the solitary haibun poet may be found lost, as it were, in the back pages of your favorite quarterly haiku journal or lurking in the outer hall of a haiku convention dedicated to exploring topics of marginal relevance to haibun: the “haiku moment,” the rules of renku, the aesthetics of sabi or, perhaps, the importance or lack thereof of kigo for contemporary English-language haiku.

Haibun – I paraphrase Stanley Pelter – is neither haiku nor short story. It is something of both; it is something other and it is something more. Such witty paradoxes may be as close as we can come today at arriving at clarity or definition. Yet, with such achievements as David Cobb’s Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore or Ken Jones’s Stallion’s Crag, to cite only two ambitious examples, and with the gradual emergence in the last decade of quality writers whose reputations are based most firmly upon their practice of haibun, perhaps the time is ripe for these very poets to comprehend their own standing, to recognize the independence of their genre and to build a community no longer limited by or subservient to those ‘rules of engagement’ that well-meaning haiku circles seek to elaborate and enforce.

by Jeffrey Woodward
Detroit, Michigan


[Editor's Note: This little anthology of haibun definitions is offered as a resource to poets and students of the genre and, like our bibliography, will be updated whenever new glosses come to our attention.]

Makoto Ueda, Matsuo Basho, 1970

Haibun can be said to be haiku prose, or prose written in the spirit of haiku. When it is applied to Basho’s works the term usually refers to short occasional prose pieces…. What distinguishes a haibun from an ordinary essay? One answer that comes readily to mind is that a haibun usually (though not necessarily) ends with a haiku.

William J. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook, 1985

Like haiku, haibun begins in the everyday events of the author’s life These events occur as minute particulars of object, person, place, action.

Patrick Frank, Editor of Point Judith Light, 1993

Haiku embedded within a relatively short prose piece.

Bruce Ross in Introduction to Journey to the Interior, 1998

In haibun the narrative direction of the prose is almost always specific enough to make its aesthetic intent, and that of any accompanying haiku, clearly evident. At its best, haibun offers us a narrative of the process of arriving at a given revelation which is highlighted by the figurative and sound values of its prose and the depth of its haiku. In this understanding of the form a haibun is a narrative of an epiphany. Haiku, on the other hand, offers us an epiphany, a revelation.

Nobuyuki Yuasa in Blithe Spirit, V10, N3, Sept 2000

Today, haibun means any kind of writing about any subject, so long as it is written in 'the spirit of haiku'. Depending on what you mean by 'the spirit of haiku' the nature of your haibun is determined. Followers of Shiki, for example, equate haibun with shaseibun, 'sketching in words'. Such haibun set store by objective detail. Compared with this, Basho's haibun are highly subjective. In fact, variety is an important feature of haibun.

However, I should like to impose one severe restriction on haibun: that it has to be a blend of haiku poetry and haiku prose; the interaction between these is haibun's greatest merit. In good haibun, the prose deepens the understanding of the poetry, and the poetry gives greater energy to the prose. The relationship is like that between the moon and the earth: each makes the other more beautiful.

Jim Norton in a review of Wedge of Light in Blithe Spirit, V10, N3, Sept 2000

...haibun is autobiographical prose, usually but not always accompanied by verse, and with the same brevity and conciseness as haiku. It is characterised by dependence on imagery and a sense of detachment which eschews emotional outburst and logical persuasion. Economy of language is of prime importance with each word carrying rich layers of meaning.... It is a detailed narrative of experience, whereas haiku is one such moment ….

… prose and verse should mirror each other without duplication, the haiku appearing out of the blue with an intuitive logic beyond the rational, giving us as it were glimpses of a skylike space for which the prose is the ground. Ueda is quoted as saying that this relationship should be like those of the juxtaposed elements within haiku ― a leap left unexplained ….

George Marsh from Introduction to Pilgrim Foxes, 2001

Illustrators define the relationship between their drawings and the texts that they illustrate, deprecating the mere "illustration," which repeats what the story has already given the reader. They use terms like "interpretation" and "complement" to indicate that in translating the themes into another artistic medium they have to re-imagine them and offer something new, a different kind of vision. The relationship between the prose and the haiku in haibun is like this …. A new haibun cannot afford any sentence that does not contribute to the effect at the ending, and builds to its last words, as a short story does …. So why is the haibun not a short story? Ken Jones believes you could write haibun without haiku in them, because the key to a haibun is its haiku-like prose principles. And why is it not a poem? …. You cannot introduce a new character in the last line of a short story. But in the haibun we have two parallel realities, related, but with different rhythms.

From: Ken Jones, A Review of Up Against the Window: American Haibun and Haiga, Volume 1, ed Jim Kacian and Bruce Ross, Blithe Spirit, Vol 11 No 2, June 2001

A haiku collection can be reviewed within a broad consensus of discourse. But in the more eclectic haibun tradition there are no such recognised markers …. Here I have used four sets of criteria. They are based on Basho’s view of haibun as haikai no bunsho --- ‘writing in the style of haiku’. First, I would expect direct, concrete, economical imagery, infused with life and energy and eschewing abstraction and intellection ….

Second, I would expect haibun prose to be light handed, elusive, open-ended, playful and even ironic, ‘in the style of haiku’ …. Third, just as haiku are literature in miniature, with their own internal and external disciplines, so should we expect haibun also to have the complexity, subtlety and unfolding of literary artifacts ….

Finally, at least as a bonus, we might hope to find something of Haruo Shirane’s ‘vertical axis’ of myth, literature, history - and life in the postmodern...

Bruce Ross, “Narratives of the Heart: Haibun,” World Haiku Review, V1, N2, 2002

Haibun is now obviously an open form. I had once defined that form, reaching for the deepest connection such a form could hold, as a “narrative of an epiphany.” This definition was juxtaposed to the accompanying definition of haiku as “an epiphany,” making here a distinction between haibun haiku and other haiku….

Overall, there seems to be three important issues that need to be discussed in relation to contemporary haibun: Which comes first in haibun composition, the prose or the haiku? What are the implications for haibun of haikai-style prose? What are the implications of linking haiku and prose in haibun?

Michael McClintock in an interview with Susumu Takiguchi, World Haiku Review, V2, N2, July 2002

[Haibun’s] potential is enormous and hardly explored. There need be few or any constraints at all, except that it be written as an aesthetic whole, not a fragment. And that it include haiku as a part of that whole, not as a mere attachment …. Beyond that fundamental proposition, we should not encumber ourselves with any assumptions about the content or style of delivery for English-language haibun …. The haibun is open to a huge range of expression: from the surreal and dreamlike to straight discursive narrative -- even journalism: from impressionistic writing to exposition and storytelling, meditation and the personal diary …. Unusual effects can be achieved, to the say the least, if compared to prose or poetry alone. In my opinion, haibun offers a kind of synoptic clarity and hybrid vigor that cannot be matched.

Janice M. Bostok in an interview with Rosanna Licari, Stylus Poetry Journal, August 2003

It is commonly considered that whether one is a traveller or a non-traveller, their haibun must move through some type of reasoning and come to a conclusion and a better understanding of a problem or of life in general. Therefore, the journey may be a physical one or an emotional one…. It is usually accepted that the haibun should end with a poem. But there is no restriction on the number of poems within a haibun. There may be many, one, or even none! The one rule, which seems to have come down over the years, is that the poem should not qualify the prose. As with the linking of verses in renga, the haiku should 'leap' to a subject which might compliment the prose by juxtaposition.

Stanley Pelter, Introduction to past imperfect, 2004

No self-respecting haibun shows its face in public unless haiku is incorporated as an integral part of the structure. That, until recently, has been an unquestioned, sacrosanct core feature. This hybrid marriage of haiku poetry and connected prose is seen as the essential defining link. It is in the application that creativity, expansion, opportunity and additional expression lie. In my view, rather than being a necessity, this is a mind barrier. It is quite possible for a haibun, replete with haiku qualities, to be diminished by haiku.

Definition of the Haiku Society of America as adopted at the Annual Meeting of the Society, New York City, 18 September 2004

A haibun is a terse, relatively short prose poem in the haikai style, usually including both lightly humorous and more serious elements. A haibun usually ends with a haiku.

Stanley Pelter in Blithe Spirit, V 16, N1 March 2006

A combination of a small (or smallish) prose composition and relevant haiku (or equivalent) that, possibly using autobiographical bits and pieces as base content for the journey, unifies (including a unification of opposites, or close partners) and provides an opportunity for something small with the attributes of something big to try and get out to the exterior from the interior.

David Cobb, Foreword to Business in Eden, 2006

A literary work consisting of an indeterminate amount of prose that is open as to form (though typically a travel journal, a diary, an essay, or an anecdote) and haiku interspersed irregularly among the prose. The writer’s aim, involving choices of style, is to juxtapose the two elements so that they counterpoint each other, and together form an aesthetic whole that is more than the sum of the two parts. To be fully justified, prose and haiku need to be essential to each other and at the same time perfectly capable of standing on their own.

w.f. owen, Editor’s Welcome, in Simply Haiku, V4, N3, Autumn 2006

A haibun is a linked form. The link is between narrative, prose sections and one or more haiku…. One criterion is to limit or eliminate repetition of words and phrases. Just as haiku are sparse and economical in wording, so too are good haibun …. So many fine narratives fail to be good haibun because the haiku do not stand alone as solid poetry. And there is more. Haiku, especially those that end a haibun, need to relate to previous prose sections yet not be an extension of the prose. The oblique but relevant association between haiku and prose is the defining moment of the haibun. Thus, I look for an ending haiku that does not repeat, nor does it seem so unrelated as to leave the readers scratching their heads. The haiku link offers readers a springboard to multiple, and often unexpected, meanings.

John Brandi, Introduction to Water Shining Beyond the Fields, 2006

Haibun might traditionally be regarded as a series of in situ prose descriptions (sans metaphor, abstraction, generalization), each of them concluded by a haiku. I have often thought that a function of the haiku might be to punctuate the prose, i.e., revealing an unexpected flash, core, essence, of what the prose didn’t quite capture or describe. The haiku thus becomes a kind of imagistic, miniature, sixth-sense portrait of something not described in the prose ….

Stanley Pelter, Introduction to & Y Not?, 2006

Most haibuneers accept as read that haibun is a marriage of prose and haiku …. No relevant ‘story’ can be so imbued with haiku qualities and particularities that it may be self-sufficient without their physical presence …. Two other accepted norms are that haibun are written in the present tense to give immediacy and lightness and have to resonate with the spirit of haiku. What can this new genre incorporate into it and call its own? After all, it is haibun, not haiku! It is more than haiku, more than a story. With similarities, it is different. Not worse, not better! And these differences are precious, are critical, and deserve examination.

Ray Rasmussen in “Haibun: A Definition” at ray’s web, 2007

Haibun is a combination of prose and haiku poetry …. Haibun prose is largely descriptive utilizing terse, poetic prose and abbreviated syntax to convey a stream of sensory impressions. For the most part, the style avoids philosophical comment. It is involved more with 'showing' rather than 'telling'…. The one or more haiku that accompany haibun prose are of two types. The first summarizes the feel of the prose, but without repeating words or phrases or images already contained in the prose. The haiku may be a juxtaposition—seemingly different yet connected. The second is a haiku that moves beyond the prose passage taking the reader yet one step further in the narrative.
Jeffrey Woodward in “Haibun Today? And Your Point Would Be …?”, Haibun Today, Nov. 22, 2007

Haibun as a genre is fluid and ill-defined, volatile and subject daily to change, invisible to the public-at-large and widely misapprehended by haiku editors and commentators…. Haibun is terra incognita – vast and only marginally explored.

Paul Conneally (date unknown)

Prose that has many of the characteristics associated with haiku — present tense …, imagistic, shortened or interesting syntax, joining words such as 'and' limited maybe, a sense of 'being there', descriptions of places people met and above all 'brevity'. The haiku ... should link to the prose but is not a direct carry on from the prose telling some of what has already been said ― no ― it should lead us on ― let our mind want for more, start traveling.

[Subject to Frequent Update]

Saturday, December 15, 2007


............ Bernard Gadd

............ the child flings
............ a stone – again
............ the wave tumbles

It was with shock that poets in New Zealand learned of the death on 11 December of the New Zealand poet, Bernard Gadd.

When I first started writing, Bernard published my first poem and he was mentor for many aspiring poets and authors. He was always available to proof-read, criticise, give advice or help in any way he could.

Bernard had a long career as a high school teacher and technical institute tutor in English as a second language (ESOL) and had short stories, novels, drama and non-fiction published. Many of his published works were aimed towards teenagers.

Bernard won several prizes for his poetry and also won a prize in the Takahe cultural essay contest in 2004. He was the judge for the 2005 New Zealand Poetry Society International Haiku Contest. His haiku, tanka and poetry have been published internationally both in print and online.

He was also a small press publisher and anthologist, and most recently he was editor of the Auckland anthology Manukau in Poetry. Bernard also wrote many poems about the history of New Zealand. His most recent collection of poetry was Pokeno Opposes the Kaiser (Hallard Press, 2004).

For several years Bernard was the co-editor with Catherine Mair of WinterSpin (which was renamed Kokako and is now co-edited by myself and Owen Bullock). I worked closely as co-editor with Bernard on both WinterSpin and Kokako after Catherine resigned from the position. The magazine was the ‘sister’ of the poetry magazine Spin until it became an independent production and it now concentrates on haiku and related forms of Japanese short poetry.

Patricia Prime
Co-editor of
Auckland, New Zealand

Friday, December 14, 2007

Stanley Pelter: HEADMISTRESS

retreat into wings
a net of colours

She sits at an ornate wrought iron table in a railway station restaurant. Her chair, the same design, was uncomfortable. She would not be staying long. At the next table a model-type young man, neatly packed into tight fitting designer jeans, reads a letter. Lips closed, what he reads makes him smile. Folding the letter into the new creases, he replaces it in an ornately designed, paint coloured envelope. Then, looking up, he smiles somewhere in her direction. Caught off guard her cheeks transform into rouge coloured heat. Looking as if she were not looking, eyes slightly puckered, lips moistened, she sips her hot coffee. Too quickly, a single stick chocolate biscuit is unwrapped. Her lips combine to shape the centre of a blatant sexual metaphor. The tips of her thumb and first finger melt into darker colours.

her skin her hair ...nothing the same now ...large eyes larger

Rummaging in her handbag for a tissue wipe, she also reapplies unneeded lipstick with speedy expertise. She is beginning to sweat.

Far away, the faintest of train beats. Forgetting the coffee is tongue-burning hot, she swallows too much. Her eyes start to water.

far away
station music fades
an unclear song

Noisily, the chair scrapes the mock marble floor. With a wet-eye, somewhat gigolo and swift glance back at the model look-alike, she rises and, her leather case gripped firmly, softly exits.

her warm breath
the air between them
and cool swing of hips

by Stanley Pelter
Claypole, Lincolnshire, England
first published in past imperfect, 2004


The Vietnamese restaurant is dimly lit, just a few tables, fewer people. The two of us, old friends, scan the menu, order spicy noodle soup.

“I’m okay with living alone,” she has often said. “I can’t give myself over to one demanding man.”

Yet, it has been a long dry spell for her: no romance, no lovers, none of the physical contact that she craves. She had become increasingly resentful that the world of men render women in their 50s invisible. That resentment may be a reason why some men hesitate to cast an amorous look in her direction.

But today is different. She sports a hint of a smile and even giggles, a sound that I usually associate with teen-aged girls, as she announces, “I have a lover. I met him several weeks ago.”

Good for her, I think to myself. We slurp the spicy noodles, our foreheads beading with sweat.

Her eyes are sparkling. “It may be love, I don’t know, I don’t care,” she says. “I’ve jumped off the cliff.”

I don’t say, I hope it’s a long way to the bottom.

late spring romance ―
a thorn bush
flush with wild roses

by Ray Rasmussen
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
first published in Haiku Harvest, V5, N1, Fall/Winter 2oo5

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Janice M. Bostok: 'DEAF & DUMB'

the motel room is unusually small and the side of the bed on which i sleep is pushed against the wall the despair which suddenly engulfs me isn’t really because of the room but it has been triggered by it and i lie awake trapped and fretful the one hundred and forty kilometre trip from the country was frightening enough for a couple of farmers the extent of my knowledge of the city was a day trip to the exhibition building for a dog show and passing through on our way to the sunshine coast we were told to come prepared to stay at least overnight in a matter of days it became necessary to find our way to various specialists’ rooms and the Royal Children’s hospital where Tony was then admitted for tests we could eat little after parting from our screaming son in an unfamiliar environment and now we lie shocked and exhausted in that small darkened room sunlight still streaming down outside my eyes are too dry to cry my throat too numb to speak for the first time that i can remember since we married we go to bed strangers not able to speak or to touch each other in some recognisable sign of goodnight

by Janice M. Bostok
Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia
first published in Stepping Stones, 2007

Janice M. Bostok: FINDING MY WAY

another address to locate in an unfamiliar city i can now find my way to the Autistic Centre but accommodation has been offered in an unused nursing home close to the CBD a young woman social worker offers to pilot me across town ‘city drivers’ i almost lose her at the first set of lights and how will i find my way back it isn’t as simple as retracing my steps because many of the streets are one way exhausted but one more effort is needed to get up the steep drive-way to the home i unload the car as Tony runs from room to room exploring the place which is to be our home for the next week at the school the others laugh telling ghost stories of how those who have passed away in the home still wander the hallways at night the kitchen is bleak with windows which look out to a block retaining wall holding a cut-away bank in the hillside most of the nursing home is closed off from use by the fire doors half-way down the long hallway Tony and i the only occupants feeling enclosed i walk towards the glass doors and the main entrance beyond as i walk a ghostly figure in a long night gown approaches from the opposite direction for a moment i feel the panic then i realise as i stand in front of the wide glass doors that my reflection is looking anxiously back at me

by Janice M. Bostok
Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia
first published in Stepping Stones, 2007

Janice M. Bostok: STOCKYARDS

closer to the island the anticipation grows will it be a tropical paradise a place where special children like our son can live in a freedom hitherto unknown we had not realised that there was an island at such close proximity to the city was it the treasure for which we searched to be tightly held and kept for a lifetime our son’s lifetime we turn from the highway a road leads along an inlet past rusty ships and sagging industrial buildings this can’t be right we must have missed the way then suddenly a long sweep of bridge leads us from the mainland there is no stopping or turning on this carriageway it leads straight to a rust-coloured island the buildings a legacy from the past salt sprayed palms hunch low out of the onshore wind a wintry wind as bleak and as unexpected as the landscape a red brick building with a wide front entrance deceives us from the outside its open arms snap shut with the wire gates which must be quickly opened and locked with each passing from area to area and courtyard to courtyard we leave relieved to expel the dank salt air from our lungs we leave our screaming son locked behind the fence of his ugly new island home

by Janice M. Bostok
Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia
first published in Stepping Stones, 2007

Janice M. Bostok: EPILOGUE

the curve of his neck manly even in childhood

i look at my son a rosebud that didn’t unfurl plucked too soon perhaps a bud which cannot blossom one who is in this world but not of this world one who could not enter freely and happily into his life one who does not hear the wind but feels it buffeting his body roughly never gently as we who hear it whispering on summer evenings my son will never be able to love a woman as other men may do he will never hold his child in his arms and know the wonder of creation my son will forever be a rose bud tightly furled layer upon layer of frustration unable to expand his mind to experience our world as we have done

evening rain stepping stones slowly darken

by Janice M. Bostok
Murwillumbah, New South Wales, Australia
first published in Stepping Stones, 2007



[Editor’s Note: The following bibliography is far from complete and subject to revision on that account. Errors of omission and of fact can be anticipated from this provisional and sketchy effort. I hope that readers will notify me of such errors. I intend to update the bibliography on a regular basis as new information is made available.

The bibliographies available in Bruce Ross’s Journey to the Interior (1998) and in Graham High and David Cobb’s “Selected Haibun Bibliography” (2006) were very useful in providing a basic foundation. Book reviews were consciously omitted from the category of critical studies and articles. A complete list of book reviews would be necessary for any complete bibliography but assembling such voluminous material is a task I have neither the time nor resources to pursue.]


I. Individual Collections of Haibun in English.

Ashbery, John. Haibun. Columbes, France: Collectif Generation, 1990.

Beveridge, Julie. Home is where the Heartache is. Brisbane, Qld., Australia: Small Change Press, 2007.

Bostok, Janice M. Silver Path of Moon: Haibun. Mt. Gravath, Australia: Post Pressed, 1996.

―――. Stepping Stones. Teneriffe, Qld., Australia: Post Pressed, 2007.

Bostok, Janice M., Bernard Gadd and Catherine Mair. Shadow-patches. Auckland, NZ: Hallard Press, 1998.

Brandi, John. Water Shining Beyond the Fields: Haibun Travels Southeast Asia. El Rito, NM: Tres Chicas Books, 2006.


Bullock, Owen, Beverley George, Jeffrey Harpeng and Joanna Preston. Four Tellings. Teneriffe, Qld., Australia: Post Pressed, 2008.


Cabalona, Yvonne, Mark Hollingsworth, Claris Moore, w.f. owen, Lane Parker and Leslie Rose. Tangled in Dreams. Central Valley Haiku Club, 2006.

Chula, Margaret and Rich Youmans. Shadow Lines: Linked Haibun. Lake Oswego, OR: Katsura Press, 1999.

Cobb, David. Business in Eden. Shalford, Essex, England: Equinox Press, 2006.

―――. Forefathers. North Falmouth, MA: Leap Press, 2004.

―――. Im Zeichen des Janus: Haiku und Haibun, deutsch - englisch. Herstellung: Hub Verlag. Longholm, Wingland, Sutton Bridge, England: Hub Editions.

―――. Palm. Shalford, Essex, England: Equinox Press, 2002.


―――. Spitting Pips. Essex, England: Equinox Press, 2009.

―――. The Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore. Shalford, Essex, England: Equinox Press, 1997.


Cobb, David, Ion Codrescu and Rich Youmans. Apricot Tree. Leap Press, 2005.

Codrescu, Ion. A Foreign Guest (Oaspete străin). Constanta, Romania: privately published, 1999.

―――. Mountain Voices (Vocile muntelui). Bicester, England: Ami-Net International Press, 2000.

Devidé, Vladimir. Haibun: Words and Pictures. Zagreb, Croatia: privately published, 1997.

Easter, Charles. Spirit Dances. Flemington, NJ: Black Bough, 1997.

Faiers, Chris. Eel Pie Dharma: a memoir / haibun. Toronto, Canada: Unfinished Monument Press, 1990.

Gill, Stephen Henry, and Fred Schofield, eds. “In the Autumn Wind: Basho Tercentenary Offa’s Dyke Walk: A Haibun Travel Journal,” in Gill, Stephen Henry and C. Andrew Gerstle, eds. Rediscovering Basho: A 300th Anniversary Celebration. Folkestone, Kent, England: Global Oriental, 1999, pp. 132-165.

Harpeng, Jeffrey. Quarter Past Sometime. Teneriffe, Qld., Australia: Post Pressed, 2007.


Harpeng, Jeffrey, Patricia Prime, Diana Webb and Jeffrey Woodward. Quartet: a string of haibun in four voices. Teneriffe, Qld., Australia: Post Pressed, 2008.

Harter, Penny. At the Zendo. Santa Fe, NM: From Here Press, 1993.

Herold, Christopher. Voices of Stone. Redwood City, CA: Kanshiketsu Press, 1995.

Higginson, William J., with Penny Harter. Met on the Road: A Transcontinental Haiku Journal. Foster City, CA: Press Here, 1993.

Jones, Ken. Arrow of Stones: Haibun. Shalford, Essex, England: British Haiku Society, 2002.

―――. The Parsley Bed: Haiku Stories. Cwmrheidol, Wales: Pilgrim Press, 2006.

―――. Stallion’s Crag: Haiku prose poems of Wales. Cullercoats, Northumberland, England: Iron Press, 2003.


———. Stone Leeks: More Haiku Stories. Cwmrheidol, Wales: Pilgrim Press, 2009.

Jones, Ken, Jim Norton, and Seán O’Connor. Pilgrim Foxes: Haiku and Haiku Prose. Cwmrheidol, Wales: Pilgrim Press, 2001.

Jones, Noragh. Stone Circles. Cwmrheidol, Wales: Pilgrim Press, 2003.

Kacian, Jim. Border Lands. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2006.

―――. Six Directions: Haiku & Field Notes. Albuquerque, NM: Las Alameda Press, 1997.

Kimmel, Larry. A River Years from Here. Morrisville, NC: Lulu, 2007.

Lamb, Elizabeth Searle. “Santarem, Brazil Nos. 1-3,” in Dreamcatcher of Light (Santa Fe Poetry Broadside, Issue #27, June 2002).

Lanoue, David G. Dewdrop World. New Orleans, LA:, 2005. (PDF published online; currently being revised)

―――. Haiku Guy: A Novel. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, Soffietto Editions, 2000.

―――. Haiku Wars: A Novel. New Orleans, LA:, 2006. (100 copies self-published; currently being revised)

―――. Laughing Buddha: A Novel. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, Soffietto Editions, 2004.


LeBel, Gary. Abacus: Prose Poems, Haibun and Short Poems. Baltimore, MD: Modern English Tanka Press, 2008.

Little, Geraldine Clinton. Separation – Seasons in Space: A Western Haibun. West Lafayette, IN: Sparrow Press, 1979.

Lliteras, D. S. Half Hidden by Twilight. Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads, 1994.

―――. In the Heart of Things. Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads, 1992.

―――. Into the Ashes. Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads, 1993.

Lynch, Tom. Rain Drips from the Trees: Haibun along the trans-Canadian Highway. Oakland, CA: privately published, 1992.

Martone, John. dogwood & honeysuckle. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, A Soffietto Book, 2004. (a collection of haiku chapbooks that includes haibun)


Masat, Francis. Lilacs After Winter. Baltimore MD: Modern English Tanka Press, 2008.

Neubauer, Patricia. Foxes in the Garden and Other Prose Pieces. Allentown, PA: privately published, 1993.

Nunn, Graham. Measuring the Depth. Tasmania, Australia: Pardalote Press, 2005.


Nutt, Joe. Kernels, haiku & senryu, 1968-1989. Staunton, VA: Nutt Studio, 1989. (includes several haibun and wonderful ink drawings)

Owen, W.F. small events. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2007.

Pelter, Stanley. & Y Not. Winchester, Hampshire, England: George Mann Publications, 2006.


―――. insideoutside. Winchester, Hampshire, England: George Mann Publications, 2008.

―――. past imperfect. Winchester, Hampshire, England: George Mann Publications, 2004.


------. slightly scented short lived words & roses. Winchester, Hampshire, England: George Mann Publications, 2009.

Ramsey, William M. Ascend with Care. North Falmouth, MA: Leap Press, 2003.

Romano, Emily. The Ties That Bind: A Selection of Haibun. Excelsior Springs, MO: Shadow Poetry, 2005.

Ross, Bruce. summer drizzles ...haiku and haibun. Bangor, ME: HMS Press, 2005.


———. endless small waves. Bangor, ME: HMS Press, 2008.

Roth, Hal. Behind the Fireflies. Glen Burnie, MD: Wind Chimes, 1982.

Rozmus, Lidia. My Journey. Evanston, IL: Deep North Press, 2004.

Schmidt, Paul F. Temple Reflections. Albuquerque, NM: Hummingbird Press, 1980.

Shelley, Pat. The Rice Papers. Saratoga, CA: Saratoga Trunk, 1992.

Spiess, Robert. Five Caribbean Haibun. Madison, WI: Wells, 1972.

―――. some sticks and pebbles. Madison, WI: Modern Haiku Press, 2001.


Stevenson, John. Quiet Enough. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2004.


―――. Some of the Silence. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 1999.


Straw, Richard. The Longest Time. Cary, NC: privately printed, 2009.

Sturmer, Richard von. A Network of Dissolving Threads. Auckland, NZ: Auckland University Press, 1991.

Tripi, Vincent. the day i find: poems from a desert hermitage. Northfield, MA: Swamp Press, 1999.

―――. Haiku Pond: A trace of the trail…and Thoreau. San Francisco, CA: Vide Press, 1987.

―――. monk & i. Richland Center, WI: Hummingbird Press, 2001.

Ward, Linda Jeannette. a delicate dance of wings. Colrain, MA: Winfred Press, 2002.


Webb, Diana. Takeaway. Wingland, Lincolnshire, England: Hub Editions, 2008.

White, Kenneth. Les Cygnes Sauvages: Voyage-haïku. Paris, France: Grasset et Fasquelle, 1990.

Willmot, Rod. The Ribs of Dragonfly. Windsor, ON, Canada: Black Moss Press, 1984.


Winke, Jeffrey. I’ll Tell You So. Ellison Bay, WI: Cross+Roads Press, 2009.


II. Anthologies and Journals of Haibun in English.


Blundell, Colin and Graham High, Eds. Dover Beach and My Back Yard: British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology 2007. Shalford, Essex, England: British Haiku Society, 2008.

British Haiku Society. Brushwood 1–3: Anthology of the Nobuyuki Yuasa International English Haibun Contest, 2002-2004. Shalford, Essex, England: British Haiku Society, 2002–2004.

Childs, Cyril, and Joanna Preston, eds. listening to the rain: an anthology of Christchurch haiku and haibun. Christchurch, New Zealand: The Small White Teapot Haiku Group, 2002.

Cobb, David, and Ken Jones, eds., Table Turning: British Haiku Society Haibun Anthology 2005. Shalford, Essex, England: British Haiku Society, 2005.


Dale, Magdalena, Ana Ruse and Laura Văceanu, Eds. Umbre in Lumina / Shades in Light: Antologie de Haibun. Constanţa, România: Editura Boldaş, 2008.

George, Jean, ed., with Marija Bem and Valery Cho, assistant eds., and Michael McClintock, consulting ed. and contributor. Journeys: A Quarterly of English-Language Haibun, Nos. 1–4, Spring–Winter, 2002 (a trifold publication of Hermitage West).

Kacian, Jim, and Bruce Ross, eds. stone frog: American Haibun & Haiga, Vol. 2. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2001.

―――, eds. up against the window: American Haibun & Haiga, Vol. 1. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 1999.

Kacian, Jim, Bruce Ross, and Ken Jones, eds. summer dreams: American Haibun & Haiga, Vol. 3. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2002.

―――, eds. Contemporary Haibun, Vols. 4–10. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003–2009.

Kacian, Jim, and the Red Moon Editorial Staff, eds. The Red Moon Anthology 1996. Berryville, VA: Red Moon Press, 1997. (haibun on pp. 83-104)

―――, eds. The Red Moon Anthology 1997. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 1998. (haibun on pp. 101-116)

―――, eds. snow on the water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 1998. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 1999. (haibun on pp. 83-93)

―――, eds. the thin curve: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 1999. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2000. (haibun on pp. 87-117)

―――, eds. a glimpse of red: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2000. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2001. (haibun on pp. 81-92)

―――, eds. the loose thread: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2001. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2002. (haibun on pp. 79-86, 89-109)

―――, eds. pegging the wind: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2002. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2003. (haibun on pp. 91-94, 96-100, 102, 104-110, 113-119)

―――, eds. edge of light: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2003. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2004. (haibun on pp. 95, 97-98, 100-102, 104-112)

―――, eds. tug of the current: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2004. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2005. (haibun on pp. 85-108)

―――, eds. inside the mirror: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2005. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2006. (haibun on pp. 83, 85-121, 123-126)

―――, eds. big sky: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2006. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2007. (haibun on pp. 93, 94-108)

Ross, Bruce, ed. Journey to the Interior: American Versions of Haibun. Boston, MA: Charles E. Tuttle, 1998.

Welch, Michal Dylan, Cor van den Heuvel, and Tom Lynch, eds. Wedge of Light. Foster City, CA: Press Here, 1999.


Woodward, Jeffrey, ed. Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose 1-2, 2009.


III. Translations of Haibun from Japanese to English.

Barnhill, David Landis, ed. and trans. Bashō’s Journey: The Literary Prose of Matsuo Bashō. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2005.

Britton, Dorothy, trans. A Haiku Journey – Bashō’s Narrow Road to a Far Province. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1980.

Corman, Cid, and Kamaike Susumu, trans. Back Roads to Far Towns (Matsuo Bashō). Hopewell, NJ: The Ecco Press, 1968, 1996.

Haas, Robert, ed. with verse trans. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō, Buson, and Issa. Hopewell, NJ: The Ecco Press, 1994.

Hamill, Sam, trans. Narrow Road to the Interior (Matsuo Bashō). Boston MA: Shambhala Centaur, 1991, 2000.

―――, trans. The Spring of My Life (Kobayashi Issa). Boston MA: Shambhala Centaur, 1997.

Jambor, Richard A., and Kazuo Odaka, trans. A Journey to Akiyama by Suzuki Bokushi. Osaka, Japan: Shoin Women’s University Scientific Research Society & Shoin Women’s College Scientific Research Society, 1990.

Keene, Donald, trans. The Narrow Road to Oku (Matsuo Basho). Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International, 1996.

Kominz, Laurence, trans., and Tokutomi Roka. “Pilgrimage to Tolstoy: Tokutomi Roka's Junrei Kikō,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 41, No. 1, Spring 1986, pp. 51-101.

Miner, Earl, ed. and trans. Japanese Poetic Diaries. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1969.

Rogers, Laurence, trans., and Yokoi Yayū. “Uzuragoromo,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 34, No. 3, Autumn 1979, pp. 292-310.

Sato, Hiroaki, trans. Basho's Narrow Road: Spring & Autumn Passages. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 1996.

―――. “Record of an Autumn Wind: The Travel Diary of Arii Shokyu,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 55, No. 1, Spring 2000, pp. 1-43.

Sato, Hiroaki, and Burton Watson, trans. From the Country of Eight Islands: An Anthology of Japanese Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1986. (includes haibun)

Yuasa, Nobuyuki, trans. “An Account of Our Master Basho’s Last Days, by Takarai Kikaku,” in Simply Haiku, Vol. 4, No. 3.


―――, trans. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Matsuo Bashō). London: Penguin, 1966.

―――, trans. The Year of My Life: A Translation of Issa’s Oraga Haru. Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 1960.


IV. Critical Studies, Articles, and Commentaries.

Anon., “Haibun Defined: Anthology of Haibun Definitions” in Haibun Today, December 16, 2007.

Anon., “Haibun Bibliography” in Haibun Today, December 13, 2007.


Barnhill, David L. “Bashō as Bat: Wayfaring and Antistructure in the Journals of Matsuo Bashō,” in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, May 1990, pp. 274-290.

Barthes, Roland. Empire of Signs (trans. by Richard Howard). New York: Hill and Wang, 1982.


Bostok, Janice M. “Must Haibun Contain Haiku?” in Stylus Poetry Journal 28: January 2008.

Bostok, Janice, with Rosanna Licari. “What Is Haibun: An Interview,” in Stylus Poetry Journal, 2002.

Carter, Steven D. “Bashō and the Mastery of Poetic Space in Oku No Hosomichi,” in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 120, No. 2, April–June, 2000, pp. 190-198.

Cobb, David. “A Few Timely Heresies about English Haibun,” in Blithe Spirit, Vol. 10, No. 3, Sept. 2000, pp. 12-13.

―――. “A Technical Note on Haibun Prose” in Blithe Spirit, Vol. 15, No. 3, Sept. 2005, p. 32.


Dean, Sharon. “The Curious Incident of the Dog and the Birthday Cake: A Wide-Ranging Conversation about Haibun with Janice M. Bostok” in Haibun Today, January 5, 2008.


―――. “Stepping Stones: An Interview with Janice M. Bostok” in Haibun Today, January 11, 2008.

Downer, Lesley. On the Narrow Road: Journey into a Lost Japan. New York: Summit Books, 1989. (retracing Bashō’s journey to the Deep North)

Edgecombe, Jamie. “Beyond Our Borders: Expanding the Potential of Haibun,” in World Haiku Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2002.

―――. “The Use of ‘Sentence Fragments’ in Contemporary Haibun,” in World Haiku Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2002.

Gill, Stephen Henry, and C. Andrew Gerstle, eds. Rediscovering Bashō: A 300th Anniversary Celebration. Folkestone, Kent, England: Global Oriental, 1999.


Hansmann, Charles. “Haibun Poem: A Definition” in Haibun Today, November 17, 2007.

High, Graham, and David Cobb. “Selected Haibun Bibliography,” in Blithe Spirit, Vol. 16, No. 1, March 2006, pp 35-37.

Jones, Ken. “Creating Haibun,” in Blithe Spirit, Vol. 10, No. 3, Sept. 2000.

Kawakami, Chiyoko. “Izumi Kyōka's Uta Andon: Between Anachronism and the Avant-Garde,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 54, No. 2, Summer, 1999, pp. 195-215.

Keene, Donald. Travelers of a Hundred Ages. New York: Henry Holt, 1989.


Koretsky, Tracy. “On a Hill Over Haifa: Haibun Sans Haiku, Experiment and Commentary” in Haibun Today, January 12, 2008.


LeBel, Gary. “Furrows in Fine Sand: Descriptions of Nature in the Journal of Eugene Delacroix, a Possible Resource for Writers of Haibun” in Haibun Today, January 3, 2008.

McClintock, Michael, with Susumu Takiguchi. “Going on About Haibun: From an Interview,” in World Haiku Review, Vol. 2, No 2, 2002.

McCullough, Helen. Classical Japanese Prose: An Anthology. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Miga, Manuela. “Haibun-ul incotro (The Haibun, where to?),” in Albatross, Vol. IX, Nos. 1-2, 2000, & Vol. X, Nos. 1-2, 2001. (Combined volumes/issues also include approximately 15 pages of haibun in Romanian and English by Giselle Maya, H.F. Noyes, Manuela Miga, and Constantin Abălută)

Millett, Christine Murasaki. “‘Bush Clover and Moon’: A Relational Reading of Oku no Hosomichi,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 52, No. 3, Autumn 1997, pp. 327-356.


Prime, Patricia. “Interview with Jim Kacian” in Haibun Today, March 7, 2008.


Rasmussen, Ray. “Characteristics of Contemporary English-Language Haibun” in Haibun Today, December 9, 2007..


―――. “Graphic Haibun: An Interview with Linda Papanicolaou” in Haibun Today, January 22, 2008.


―――. “Terra Incognita—The World of Haibun and Tanka Prose, An Interview with the editor of Haibun Today and Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose,” Contemporary Haibun Online V5, N4 (December 2009).


Rees, Lynne. “Worth Saying: David Cobb on Haibun,” in Haibun Today, February 24, 2008.

Rogers, Lawrence. “Rags and Tatters: The Uzuragoromo of Yokoi Yayū,” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 34, No. 3, Autumn 1979, pp. 279-291.

Ross, Bruce. “On Defining Haibun to a Western Readership,” in World Haiku Review, Vol. 1, No. 2, 2002.


―――. “Matsuo Basho, Suthorn Pho & Contemporary World Travel Haibun,” Contemporary Haibun Online V5, N4 (December 2009).

―――. “Narratives of the Heart: Haibun” in Simply Haiku, Vol. 2, No. 6, 2004.

Shirane, Haruo. “Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Myths,” in Modern Haiku, Vol. 31, No. 1, Winter 2000, pp. 48-63.


―――. Traces of Dreams: Landscape, Cultural Memory, and the Poetry of Bashō. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.


Shoot, Bamboo. “A Note on the Use of Present Tense in Haibun” in Haibun Today, January 16, 2008.


Straw, Richard. “Democratic Haibun,” Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 161-164.


―――. “On Ruth Holzer’s “Bruehl,” Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose 2 (Winter 2009), pp. 164-168.

Takiguchi, Susumu. “Bashō Manuscript Revisited: Yaba-hon Oku-no-Mosomichi,” in Frogpond XXII: Supplement, A Supplementary Journal of Theory and Analysis, 1999, pp. 67-80.

Ueda, Makoto. Dew on the Grass: The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa (Brill’s Japanese Studies Library, Vol. 20). Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers, 2004.

―――. Matsuo Bashō. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1982. (reprint of 1970 edition published by Twayne Publishers Inc.)

―――. The Path of Flowering Thorn: The Life and Poetry of Yosa Buson. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.


Woodward, Jeffrey. “Bruce Ross on Haibun” in Haibun Today, April 14, 2008.


. “Haibun Minus Haiku” in Haibun Today, November 30, 2007.

―――. “Haibun Today? And Your Point Would Be … ?” in Haibun Today, November 22, 2007.


– – –. “Haibun Tomorrow? Maybe, Maybe Not” in Haibun Today, March 12, 2008.


―――. “insideoutside: Stanley Pelter on Haibun” in Haibun Today, March 18, 2008.


――― “Interview with Ken Jones,” in Haibun Today, February 8, 2008.
―――. “On the Road Alone: Haibun Today, Haibun Tomorrow” in Haibun Today, December 16, 2007.


―――. “Prose and Verse in Tandem: Haibun and Tanka Prose,” Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose 2 (Winter 2009), pp. 154-163.


―――. “Thinking It Through or A Few Innocent Questions: One Relation of Haiku to Prose in Haibun,” Frogpond 32:3 (Fall 2009), pp. 85-87.


―――. “Wheeling through the Cedars: an Interview with Michael McClintock,” Modern Haibun & Tanka Prose 1 (Summer 2009) pp. 145-160.


Youmans, Rich. “Depth Charges: A Q&A with William M. Ramsey about the Art of Haibun,” in Ascend with Care. North Falmouth, MA: Leap Press, 2003.

―――. “The Marriage of Prose and Haiku: Linking in Haibun” in Acorn Supplement #3, In Good Company: An Exploration of Haiku-related Linked Forms, 2003.

―――, “More than the Sum of Its Parts,” in edge of light: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2003. Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2004, pp. 156-165.

Yuasa, Nobuyuki. “Four Japanese Haibun,” in Blithe Spirit, Vol. 10, No. 3, Sept. 2000.


First posting: 13 Dec. ‘07

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