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BHS Zoom with Kala Ramesh


Book launch and tanka performance

On 28 August 2021, the British Haiku Society organised a book launch, on Zoom, of Kala Ramesh’s book ‘the forest i know’- a gathering of tanka verses, published by HarperCollins India. There were several friends, well-wishers, and admirers of Kala’s words in attendance. 34 poets were there for this event.

The event was peppered with beautiful dance recitals by Vrushali Chitali Lele, Devshree Athalye and Rekha Tandon. Alan Summers, and a very enthusiastic Karen Hoy, had a few questions for Kala about her life journey, that culminated into this beautiful collection of tanka verses. Kala revealed some important phases of her life that directly impacted her writing over the fifteen years of her journey in the haikai world, like how giving up organised religion 21 years ago, has made writing poetry what prayers are for others. That is liberating for her.

It was a lovely session of dance and poetry, bringing together poets and readers from across the globe.

Here’s the title poem from the book:

at twilight
the forest I know
by sight
becomes a forest of sound …
cicada summer

I wish to thank Iliyana Stoyanova for organising this event and Andrew Shimield who hosted this book launch. And to the many friends I recognised on the screen, a big thank you.

Write-up by Firdaus Parvez

Call for Entries BHS Awards 2021


The competition is now CLOSED!!!

Many thanks for all your entries!

When the judges’ reports are ready all winners, runners-up and honourable mentions will be announced on the BHS website, Facebook and in the May issue of Blithe Spirit. Good luck!


Comprising three categories: Haiku, Tanka and Haibun

The Competition is OPEN to both members and non-members of the society from all over the world.

Rules of the BHS Haiku, Tanka and Haibun Awards:

1. Submissions must be only in English, unpublished and not concurrently entered for any other competition, and remain unpublished until the results are declared. Submissions should NOT appear in any print or online publication, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or forums as the competition is anonymous. There is no limit on the number of submissions per competitor.

2. Deadline: in the administrator’s e-mail by 31 January 2022.

3. Entry procedures:
Please note that all UK and non UK entries should be sent by e-mail to: bhsawardsadmin (a) fastmail . co . uk If you don’t have an e-mail, please contact the BHS Administrator Iliyana Stoyanova for more details.

For all three categories – send your entry in the body of the e-mail, NO attachments.

Remember to include your name, address and phone number. All appropriate fees to be paid via PayPal (through the BHS website). All PayPal transactions are subject to the PayPal Privacy Policy. Please include the PayPal payment Ref. No. with your submission.

Please note the PayPal payment should be made in £ sterling. Same fees apply for all UK and non UK entries. See the table below.

4. Fees:
Payments by PayPal. The minimum entry fee for up to 3 haiku is £5.50. The fee for tanka or haibun works the same as for haiku. You will need to make a SEPARATE PAYMENT for each category you wish to enter (i.e. no mixing for one fee).

If you are uncertain about the payment options or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact the BHS Administrator at the e-mail above.

If you wish to submit haiku, tanka or haibun, please use the form below:

Entries BHS Awards 2022

5. No current trustee of the British Haiku Society or any of the current judges is eligible to enter.

6. Adjudication process:
BHS will appoint two judges for haiku, two for tanka and one for haibun. Each judge sees all entries submitted in the category assigned to him/her, and without consulting, makes his/her independent choice of best haiku, tanka or haibun – and also chooses one runner-up and up to 3 ‘honourable mentions’. Their choices will be final and no correspondence can be entered into about the results. It is possible for an entrant to win more than one prize.

The Judges for the 2021 British Haiku Society Awards are:

Haiku – Judy Kendall and Ron C. Moss
Tanka – Margaret Chula and Neal Whitman
Haibun – Amanda Bell

7. Prizes:
For haiku, prizes of £125 will be awarded to each of the two best and £50 to each of two runners-up.
For tanka, prizes of £125 will be awarded to each of the two best and £50 to each of two runners-up.
For haibun, prize of £125 will be awarded to one winner and £50 to one runner-up.

8. Publication of results:
As soon as results are known and the winners are notified, the results will be published on the BHS website at All haiku, tanka and haibun selected for awards, along with the judges’ reports, will be published in the May 2022 issue of the BHS journal, Blithe Spirit. All winners, runners-up and ‘honourable mentions’ will receive BHS Awards certificates.

9. For early notification of results, please provide a valid e-mail.

10. Copyright reverts to authors after publication in the BHS journal, Blithe Spirit, but entry for any category signifies agreement to your work being published digitally by the BHS or copied for archival purposes (for example, by the British Library or the Poetry Library, London).

Iliyana Stoyanova
BHS Awards Administrator

Hyper Japan Online 2021 Workshop


On Sunday, 18 July 2021 David Bingham and Iliyana Stoyanova led a free haiku workshop for the biggest Japanese festival in UK, Hyper Japan. In this workshop 25 participants from Argentina, Canada, Greece, India, UK, and USA explored: the characteristics of good contemporary haiku and the techniques employed in writing them; had the opportunity to write contemporary haiku and then shared and discussed the haiku they had written; learned about where to follow up the session by sending haiku for publication in haiku journals, magazines and online websites and how to become involved in local and national haiku activities.

Here are the best 3 haiku submitted by the participants:

the tide turns —
stopping to talk
this time
  (Florence Heyhoe, UK)

insomnia —
the incessant chirping
of crickets
  (Julia Guzman, Argentina)

a burst of ravens
leaves the tree naked
burning cold
  (Francisca Weber, USA)

Write-up by David Bingham and Iliyana Stoyanova

BHS Spring Gathering 2021


BHS Spring Gathering on 5th and 6th June 2021

Last year the BHS marked its 30th anniversary but due to the lockdown we had to cancel our planned Spring Gathering in London. In order to celebrate this important milestone the BHS hosted a two-day Zoom event in June 2021. We organised two meetings to allow more of the BHS members to join in depending on their places of residence and we had more than 60 participants from Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Japan, The Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and USA.

The programme was spread over two days and each presentation was followed by Q&A with the participants:

Saturday, 5 June – 9am-12pm UK:

  • Philip Rowland, Japan (Haiku and the poetics of George Oppen)
  • Anna Maris, Sweden (Haiku performance developed for an international environmental conference in Malmö, Sweden)
  • Radu Șerban, Romania (And yet… Kobayashi Issa)
  • Kala Ramesh, India (The Zen of Haiku Healing)

Sunday, 6 June – 5pm-8pm UK:

  • Susan Antolin, USA (Understatement in Haiku)
  • Marco Fraticelli, Canada (Haibun the Gateway to Haiku)
  • Roberta Beary, Ireland (Haiku Etiquette: Dealing with Rejections)
  • Michael Dylan Welch, USA (The Weather-Beaten Jizō: Shikoku Pilgrimage Haiku by Shūji Niwano)

With many thanks to the speakers and all participants for making it such an enjoyable experience for everyone!

Write-up by Iliyana Stoyanova

BHS Haibun workshop with Diana Webb


The Dance of Haibun Workshop – 27 March 2021

This workshop was based on the way the late Ken Jones summed up haibun as ‘haiku dancing with prose‘. In relation to this, the quote by the choreographer Michael Fokine that ‘dance bears the same relationship to gesture as poetry to prose‘ was born in mind.

In advance of the workshop a choice of factual sentences (plain prose as gesture) about swans were offered, from which those who had signed up could choose one or two and write a haiku that ‘danced ‘ with it to bring along to read on the day. In addition four sentences of poetic prose, corresponding to gesture plus dance, from the work of well-known writers were offered, from which participants could again choose one and compose a haiku to ‘dance’ with it in a slightly different way.

At the event several people were able to read out what they had written in response to one or both of these assignments and various comments were made. It had also been suggested that participants bring along any haiku they might have already written, published or unpublished, about things that shone or sparkled and in the time that was left a short introduction was made about the American dancer Loie Fuller, born in the latter part of the nineteenth century, whose dances involved swirling herself round with fabric and projecting lights on it, and it was suggested that people write a swirl of words about an experience and put in the haiku at appropriate places. At least one of the pieces written in response to this prompt was published.

Write-up by Diana Webb

Portrait of Loie Fuller by Frederick Glasier, 1902
Portrait of Loie Fuller by Frederick Glasier, 1902

BHS ZOOM with Neal Whitman


Virtual Ginko and Haiku Sharing – 27 February 2021

Participants were asked ahead of the February 27 Zoom meeting to go outdoors and remain rooted in one spot and to draft haiku using all their physical senses and take note of what they could see / hear / touch / smell / taste.

All haiku poets know the word, ginko, for a haiku walk and then sharing of haiku. What might have been new was the Japanese word, kokoro, which means to unite heart and mind in one moment. One spot! One moment! This was our challenge.

I encouraged participants to be aware of details that might have been missed if they kept moving and passed through without stopping and to share these along with their haiku. Also, members were asked, if possible, to send a photograph of their special spot that could be shared in a slide show, along with one or two of their haiku. Brief comment on how and why that particular spot had been chosen would be welcomed. 

When we met on Zoom, what a treasure trove of haiku!

By showing photographs and describing these special spots, BHS members learned new things about other and gained a deeper appreciation of the hearts & minds of members and how haiku can bring others to a moment in time as we experience it. May I add that, listening to the haiku, what came to my mind was the masterpiece of modern literature, Marcel Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past. The actual title in French translates as In Search of Lost Time. BHS members proved the possibility not of losing time, but capturing it! That is the miracle of haiku, yes?

Write-up by Neal Whitman

Haiku sharing session dedicated to the memory of David Cobb

On Saturday, 12 December 2020 the British Haiku Society hosted a special haiku sharing session dedicated to the memory of David Cobb (1926-2020).

Over 30 participants at the meeting presented two types of haiku:
·        a haiku written by David Cobb
·        a haiku from the most recent Blithe Spirit, Volume 30, No 4, November 2020 – the participant’s own work or that of another writer.

Some poets also shared fond memories from their meetings and coversations with David Cobb, his invaluable advice and encouragement, and we all acknowledged his incredible role in the life of the society for three decades.

Write-up by Iliyana Stoyanova

BHS Haiku workshop with Alan Summers & Karen Hoy


BHS Haiku workshop – 28 November 2020

Alan Summers and Karen Hoy offered to host a live Zoom haiku workshop, on Saturday November 28th, from 10.30 am for two hours, for fellow BHS members. Participants were invited to bring along a haiku to read, and that there would be as much discussion and feedback as we could fit into the time.

Karen felt it was best low-tech so everyone was asked to write or print out their poem on a page. This was so that everyone would be ready to hold their poem up to the screen, so that we could all see both the poet and the poem at the same time, while they read. This created a wonderful and warm aspect to the readings, with good humour as we might say right or left so we could see both the poem clearly and the reader, either peeping over, or to the side. Great fun!

There were at least thirty-eight participants in total, and after introductions, a haiku reading, and a question or three, there was around twenty minutes to do a speed but detailed workshop, which we did for everyone up for workshopping.

Much of the feedback sent after the workshop showed the participants found it to be well-organised and helpful to their writing.

Write-up by Alan Summers & Karen Hoy