Category Archives: Events

Free Verse: The Poetry Book Fair 2016

Conway Hall, London – 17 September 2016

Kate B Hall and David Cobb


As part of “The British Haiku Society” outreach programme, and for the second year running, we had a table at the “Poetry Book Fair” in Conway Hall, London.

David Cobb, Iliyana Stoyanova and Rose Ades


Again all of us wore our BHS T-shirts and everyone looked very smart. Business was quite brisk throughout the day and a total of £110.00 was made from the sale of BHS books and journals. In addition, we not only gained a new member but later on quite a few people liked our Facebook page and joined our lively BHS Facebook group.


Mark Gilfillan
Frank Williams
Katherine Gallagher and Kate B Hall

In the afternoon Katherine Gallagher, Kate B Hall, Mark Gilfillan and Iliyana Stoyanova took part in very well attended haiku reading in the park – Katherine (haiku and tanka), Kate (haiku), Mark (haiku) and Iliyana (haiku in 5 different languages and haibun).

Many thanks to all involved in this wonderful event and especially to Susan Lee Kerr for our beautiful T-shirts!
All in all an eventful and very successful day!

Photos provided by Frank Williams and Mark’s and Kate’s friends!
Write-up: Frank Williams and Iliyana Stoyanova

BHS Spring Gathering 21st May 2016


David Bingham started the day introducing a session about organising work into sequences. Participants were given some examples of haiku and asked to think about the interesting question of what might follow, some example sequences were also provided. Then after an introduction to Haiku sets (Gunsaku) and Sequences (Rensaku) there was a small group sequence exercise. The resulting sequences were then read out and displayed. Unfortunately none were signed so the following example has to be anonymous.




haiku spring gathering
taking three lines

Hungerford Bridge
the beggars thin face
her empty cup

cherry petals
scattered at my feet
on my way

lilacs in the square
blunted by this chilly wind
have lost their fragrance

Everyone agreed that this was an interesting and productive session.

After lunch

Colin Blundell led a very interesting session during which he asked us, looking at a range of haikuic examples, to consider how various haiku writers had made connections between images.

He argued that we are constantly asking what he called ‘virtual questions’ – we don’t actually ask them out loud – they are virtual, occur briefly in the neurons just before we act out a response; they have the effect of sustaining life: what shall I do next? What will my next idea be? Shall I scratch my arm now? What can I see/hear/feel/smell/taste? Shall I move my bottom in the chair now? Shall I look away from the computer screen? On and on… And of course haiku writers, being human, are no exception to this process. They are constantly asking virtual questions like ‘How can I connect this with that?’ ‘What image might connect feeling fully with the first thing I noticed?’

The most resourceful virtual question anybody can ask is HOW CAN I CONNECT THIS WITH THAT?
Example: Shiki, ‘to write a haiku look at the violet at your feet and then look up at the distant mountain…’ Connect them.

By looking at a range of examples, we had to step into the shoes of each writer and figure out how they might have made connections. We did the same thing with connections between verses in some renga.

Short break for tea

Then Kate B Hall led a topical Haiku and Shakespeare workshop, participants were asked to write individually and in groups haiku inspired by passages from various of Shakespeare’s plays. A found haiku exercise followed and then a final exercise using Prospero’s “Our revels now are ended.” From the Tempest, where both inspiration and found haiku could be used. Then end results were then read to everyone. Although Shakespeare was chosen as the inspiration for this session, any writing, poetry, fiction, non-fiction etc. can be used in this way.

Here are one group’s haiku from that last exercise:

Inspired by Prospero!

sparkling vision
absorbed by
summer night
—Gunita Zaube

up-rising moon
the ebb and flow of its tide
sand castles collapse
—Mark Gilfillan

rounded with a sleep
our revels now are spirits
dissolved into dreams
—Alan Maley

towering clouds
the water meadows exult
marsh marigold
—Nick Sherwood

The whole day was interesting and creative, many thanks to participants and session leaders.

Write up: Kate B Hall
Photo: Gunita Zaube

Ohanami Festival – 10 April 2016


Ohanami Festival

The Ohanami Festival in Sofia, Bulgaria takes place in April every year. It is organized by the Bulgarian Haiku Union under the patronage of the Japanese Embassy in Bulgaria, courtesy of the Club “Friends of Japan.” There are haiku readings, ginko, ikebana, martial arts demonstrations (Ju-Jitsu, Aikido and Kendo), as well as the planting of sakura trees as part of an over 50 years old tradition. In connection with the festival the Bulgarian Haiku Union invites poets to participate with their works in the International Haiku Contest, in the haiku installations and recitals.

On 10 April 2016 BHS members and friends of the Society took part in the Second International Haiku Contest “Cherry Blossom” in Sofia, Bulgaria part of the Ohanami Festival.

Japan’s ambassador to Sofia Takashi Koizumi presenting the awards to the Haiku Contest winners

Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up and many thanks to all the participants in the Ohanami Festival and Haiku Contest!

Frank Williams
Shrikaanth K. Murthy
Paul Smith





Awards – International Section:


spring dusk
the shadow of my cherry tree
gets back home
— Magdalena Banaszkiewicz – Krosno Odrzańskie, Poland


Kendo demonstration

cherry trees in bloom
he switches from charcoal
to watercolor
— Billy Antonio – Pangasinan, Philippines

rusted bucket
cherry blossoms patch
every hole
— Debbie Strange – Winnipeg, Canada


Graham High

the flick
of sparrow’s wing
swirls of petals
— Jan Benson – Fort Worth, USA

picnic for two –
a fallen cherry blossom
in both cups
— Graham High – Blackheath, UK

Earth Hour –
cherry blossom
— Daniela Lăcrămioara – Galaţi, Romaniа


Sheila Windsor

first light –
pink blossoms trapped
in a spider’s web
— Frank Williams – Barking, UK

there again
the wistful look in Dad’s eyes
Yoshino blossoms
— Sheila Windsor – Bexhill-on-Sea, UK

spring breeze –
cherry petals
flavoring my tea
— Marilyn Fleming – Pewaukee, USA

my heart too
is floating through the air –
cherry blossoms
— Paul Smith – Worcester, UK

pastel cherry blossoms
we open a book
of baby names
— Meik Blöttenberger – Hanover, USA

chasing his ball
the dog’s nose
flecked with blossom
— Andrew Shimield – Isleworth, UK

at the bottom
of a cherry tree children
blackbirds on top
— Vilma Knežević – Viškovo, Croatia

only three days old
they start flying from their nest –
these cherry-blossoms
— Marc May – Schin op Geul, The Netherlands

cherry blossoms fall
children upturn skirts
cupping showers
— Adjei Agyei-Baah – Kumasi, Ghana

framed by cherry blossom
my granddaughter’s smile
— Andre Surridge – Hamilton, New Zealand

spring breeze
the baby finch bathes
in cherry blossoms
— Sneha Sundaram – Jersey City, USA

a wild cherry
– its petals shaken down by
the blows of an axe
— Nina Kovačić – Zagreb, Croatia

cherry blossom rain…
my baby and i scatter
a flock of pigeons
— Shrikaanth K. Murthy – Birmingham, UK

how can I forget
first pink blossoms under
the toddler’s first steps
— Angelee Deodhar – Chandigarh, India

april storm
one cherry petal lands
at the airport
— Ernest J Berry – Blenheim, New Zealand

a cancer ward window
a cold wind and
cherry petals
— Anna Mazurkiewicz – Chelm, Poland

repainting white lines
road workers swear softly
flying blossom
— Jon Horsley – Oxford, UK

refugees convoy –
beyond borders
bloomed cherry
— Daniela Lăcrămioara – Galaţi, Romaniа

Not one at all
welcomes me in the station
only the cherry blossoms
— Adina Enachescu – Râmnicu Vâlcea, Romania

Some of the haiku have been chosen for the Art installations and here you could read the haiku recital
One Hundred and One Cherry Blossom Haiku (101 authors and 27 countries):

Photos by the Bulgarian Haiku Union, Nihon Tomono Kai, Aikido Club Aiki Budo and other participants
More photos here at:
Write-up by Iliyana Stoyanova (Ohanami Haiku Contest Administrator)

The British Haiku Society celebrates 25 years

Winter Gathering/AGM – 14 November 2015


Paul Hickey and Colin Blundell

At around 10:15am on a drizzly Saturday morning, the great and the good of the British haiku world converged on Conway Hall, Holborn in London, from near and far to attend the Society’s Winter Gathering/AGM and also to celebrate its twenty-fifth anniversary!

After coffee, chat and a browse around the BHS book stall we took to our seats for the commencement of the meeting. Graham High gave a short introduction on the day’s events.

Kala Ramesh

We were treated to a wonderful presentation and short film from Kala Ramesh. It was surprising to see such a high level of quality and imagination in the writings of such young Indian students. The haiku married with film enhanced the whole experience, which was immensely enjoyable! Thank you Kala!

We then took a short break for lunch and at 1:15pm the AGM commenced.

David Cobb started off by offering a few words of sympathy and support to our French cousins, regarding the previous night’s horrific events in Paris; and those assembled observed a one-minute silence.

Graham High then read out the minutes from the previous AGM and these were signed off as a true account. Graham called for nominations from the floor to chair the meeting, and Andrew Shimield was duly nominated and seconded.

Sue Richards

It was announced that Sue Richards intended to step down from her role as Editor of “The Brief”. Sue has done a sterling job with “The Brief” for the past three years and I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her support and wish her well for the future. I will be assuming the role in the new-year. It was also announced that Claire Knight was also stepping down after her role as Membership Secretary and as committee member without portfolio. Those assembled showed their appreciation for all the hard work carried out by Sue and Claire. Our President, Graham High then gave his report on the year and the prospects for 2016. Each committee member with a portfolio then gave their reports. Graham High read out reports from those who were absent; David Bingham (Events Officer) and David Serjeant (Editor, Blithe Spirit). Frank Williams the Membership secretary announced that the society had a total 295 members, a gain of 18 from the previous year.

We were then given an involving presentation by Claire Knight of the latest BHS publication, the wind that blows through us… (exploring the world of haiku and well-being). This turned out to be an unusual and very relaxing, creative and meditative session involving the senses. Colin Blundell and Paul Hickey gave short talks regarding their involvement in the project. There was also an auto drawing workshop involving those assembled. After which, a vigorous discussion took place.

Graham High
Chris Poundwhite, Kala Ramesh, Iliyana Stoyanova and Alan Summers

Graham also launched another recent BHS publication, Silver Tapestry. This book takes the form of celebrating some of the finest essays to have appeared within the pages of Blithe Spirit over the past twenty-five years.


After a break for coffee, Peter Butler treated us to a fascinating presentation on haibun. Excellent examples of haibun from Basho to the present day were read out by various members of the haibun group.


Speed renga

After a break for food and a move to a larger adjoining room, we assembled for the evening’s celebrations. Tables were spaced out throughout the larger room. After a toast was proposed for twenty-five years of the BHS, we were all assembled into groups for a fun, and highly creative session of renga. Thanks to Susan Lee Kerr for running this session and keeping order!




It was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I for one am already looking forward to the “Winter Gathering” 2016!
Well done all!

Write-up: Mark Gilfillan
Photos: Frank Williams

BHS Annual General Meeting and Winter Gathering – 26 November, 2011

It was a great day for all haiku enthusiasts!

Our Autumn Gathering took place on Saturday, Nov 26th, 10.00am to 4.00pm, 2011, at The Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London.

Susan Lee Kerr started us off brilliantly with a talk about developing states of creative awareness which included the thoughts of people ranging from Basho, through Ignatius Loyola to Grayson Perry. Inspired by this we were set a haiku writing exercise and the results were put on a wall display. A great idea to get us writing haiku at the start of the day! Susan’s printed notes will be invaluable to members as a starting point for further reading into the ‘awareness gate’ This was a session which really got people going!

The AGM was a lively session with officers’ reports presented efficiently and lots of positive ideas offered by BHS members for the committee to take up in the near future. We discussed items as varied as: the introduction of ‘Twitter’; developing a members’ area on the website; how Blithe Spirit should respond to the evolution of haiku in Japan; links with the French Haiku Society; our 2012 Spring Gathering; the European Parole Project; our 5 Year Plan; and much more.

David Cobb led a stimulating session to start the afternoon. After a brief talk on how to perform haiku, we were divided into groups who each had the job of creating a performance based on the haiku David had selected for us. Then the groups performed in front of the whole gathering. And what performance talents were revealed in the society! Such top notch stuff, prepared in only twenty minutes. All the performances deserved a wider audience; this is definitely something to build on for the future.

Colin Blundell then ‘took our minds for a walk’ through music, art and the written word. This was an inspirational experience for everyone. WOW .. what resources Colin provided us with: art by Ayzen, Paul Klee, his own work and that by John Parsons. We finished by creating haiku based on inspirational drawings. These we shared in the session.

We finished our day by listening to the adjudication of the informal haiga competition by our judges Lynne Rees and Katherine Gallagher. The joint winners were: Phil Madden and Verity Adams. Congratulations to them and thanks to everyone who brought work in for the competition.

More Photos on our Facebook page.

BHS London Regional Group

(co-ordinator Andrew Shimield email: jard (a) blueyonder . co . uk) meets regularly throughout the year. Will participate in the charity event at Conway Hall on Sunday 15 May 2011, in support of the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster fund – see Non-BHS members always welcome.

BHS Yorkshire-Lancashire Group

Meet monthly for workshops and study. Newcomers always welcome. Contact Chris Boultwood for details of forthcoming programme: chris . boultwood (a) mac . com