Category Archives: Past Events

BHS Winter Gathering and AGM 2017


BHS Winter Gathering 2017
BHS Winter Gathering 2017


On Saturday 2 December 2017 nearly 30 BHS members met for the BHS Winter Gathering and AGM at the Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London. In the morning we had the AGM and a wonderful workshop led by Diana Webb – Having Fun with Haibun: matching haiku with the haibun prose and writing haibun in groups inspired by “Balloon Girl”(2002) – a mural by graffiti artist Banksy.

This is one of the haibun written by Kate B Hall, Karen Hoy, Debbi Antebi, Frank Williams and Iliyana Stoyanova:

Brick Wall

Letting go of her childhood. The weeds at her ankles. Signed by the artist in colour on the grey wall. The wind in her outstretched hand. Both the child and the wall keeping their innocence.

on the South Bank
a girl mesmerized
by a red balloon

In the afternoon we enjoyed a haiku performance by the Green Wood Haiku Group – haiku and haibun reading, accompanied by shakuhachi music and singing, a sequence of urban haiku performed in an experimental way, and an audio visual display. The members of the Green Wood Haiku Group who wrote material and took part were: Martin White, Sue Richards, Lizzie Prudence, Norma Gregson, Sandra Goodfellow, Ann Turnbull, Bethany Rivers, Catherine Redfern, and David Bingham. Afterwards we had a structured discussion about the techniques which can be used when performing haiku.

Green Wood Haiku Group
Green Wood Haiku Group

So all in all we had quite a lively and informative gathering and we are looking forward to the next year!

2017 AGM 
Write-up: Iliyana Stoyanova
Photos: Frank Williams & Debbi Antebi

The Poetry Book Fair 2017


On the 30th of September 2017 for the third year running, the BHS had a table at the Poetry Book Fair at Conway Hall, London. The Fair was not as busy as last year, however thanks to the BBC documentary quite a few people stopped to talk to us at our stall and took leaflets. In total we made £46.00 from the sale of BHS books, anthologies, and Blithe Spirit copies. The pocket-size 2016 members’ anthology proved to be very popular.

All in all we were successful in the BHS remit to outreach to the public. We hope to return again to the Poetry Fair next year.

Many thanks to helpers, Kate B. Hall, Iliyana Stoyanova, Frank Williams and Mark Gilfillan who took turns in staffing the table throughout the day, and making it a success!

Write-up: Frank Williams & Iliyana Stoyanova
Photos: Frank Williams, Iliyana Stoyanova & Jason Why

London Haiku Group Anthology

Photo by Frank Williams

On 2nd July 2017, thirteen members of the London Haiku Group ran by Coordinator, Mark Gilfillan assembled for a meeting at the Royal Festival Hall. Each person brought along six poems for critiquing. A few months earlier it was agreed that the Group would produce an Anthology based on the poems brought along for critiquing. The Anthology would be edited by Frank Williams. From each person two poems were chosen by popular vote for inclusion in the project. We also welcomed two new people to the Group. Each person read out their poems and they were commented upon. The quality of work submitted was excellent, and showcased the wide variety of styles being produced, which added an extra interest and sparkle to the discussion. It is hoped that the Anthology will be finalised by the end of 2017. After the meeting a few members retired to the bar for refreshments and a general chat. The next meeting was scheduled for 3 September 2017 at the Royal Festival Hall, meeting at 12.45pm by the ticket office for a 1pm start.

Write-up by Frank Williams

BHS Spring Gathering 10 June 2017


This year the Spring Gathering of the BHS took place in the St. Denys Hall which is close to the River Thames in Chiswick. There were three parts to the day:

(1) Haiku Today

In the morning session we had a series of lively discussions about some commonly used statements regarding haiku.  This exercise, as one might expect, led to the expression of the differing points of view which exist within the society regarding the nature of haiku.

The group then took part in a simulated editing exercise in which two or three haiku had to be selected for publication from the ten which had been submitted. Interestingly, given the divergence of opinion in the first exercise, there was a more general agreement on the haiku which should be published.


(2) Ginko

We were fortunate in having a sunny afternoon for the ginko (a haiku-writing wander around the riverside area of old Chiswick Parish Church). When we returned we shared and discussed the haiku that had been produced.

Here are some of the haiku which were written on the ginko:

incoming tide
river lapping against
the slipway
— David Bingham

tide rising
the constant bob
of each moored boat
— Andrew Shimield

polling day fades
two pigeons
share a snog
— David Jacobs

river trash
trapped between the owner
and the dog
— Rose Ades

Beached house boats
side by side
wallow in the mud
— Howard Colyer

summer breeze
combing the river
ripple by ripple
— Debbie Antebi

Chiswick Park
on the wind
African wedding music
— Kate B Hall

riverbank garden
gone to wilderness except
— Susan Lee Kerr

a crucifix stands apart
mobile phones rise and fall
“I do”, she replies
— Mark Floyer

old cemetery
each gravestone set
at a jaunty angle
— Frank Williams

splashes of colour
wild flowers
the artist’s grave
— Mark Gilfillan BHS_2

(3) Speed Renga
The day finished with a fast-paced, swap-around burst of shared haiku creativity.

Format for all, devised by Frank Williams, is Format: v1 spring, v2 love, v3 summer, v4 autumn or moon, v5 winter, v6 spring. The idea for Speed Renga was devised by David Bingham and Dick Pettit. The conductor was Susan Lee Kerr. The premise is sociable group poetry writing, with the added ‘speed’ element of changing places so that the working groups change and poets get to work together and get to know each other in this fun, fast creativity.

Here is the renga voted favourite by those who participated:

“The Sixth Ice Cream “

hey you, wind
stop tossing and tangling
my plum blossom tree

blown from my hand
the love poem you sent me

at the beach
dad staggers back
with five ice creams

wrestling with nightmares
the full moon awakens me

fairy lights
each one a different colour
on the bare branches

chimes of goldfinches
drowned out by wrens
— Susan Lee Kerr, David Bingham, Frank Williams, Debbi Antebi, Rose Ades, Rose Ades


Overall, it was a splendid day and much enjoyed by all those who attended.  Afterwards we adjourned to a local hostelry for a relaxing drink.

Write-up by Dave Bingham and Susan Lee Kerr

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

BHS celebrates International Haiku Day 2016


BHS handed out 108 haiku to complete strangers on London’s Southbank on Saturday 16 April 2016 to celebrate International Haiku Poetry Day the next day.
Thanks to Iliyana Stoyanova we learned of the declaration of the day – 17 April for 17 syllables. And thanks to Frank Williams: he quickly created the giveaways. Twelve BHS poets each contributed 3 haiku Frank then printed, with photographs, on A5-size cards, with the BHS web address on the reverse.


Iliyana, Frank and Susan Lee Kerr took up three different locations at 10 am – and within 20 minutes had lightened the life of over 100 people with the joy of haiku. ‘An interesting experience!’ says Iliyana, who gave a card to one delighted Japanese family, and had to explain haiku to another taker. Says Susan: ‘It was fun! Some rejections because people feared I was selling something, but many smiles and curious acceptances from others.’
All three went on to the quarterly Committee meeting held in Festival Hall – a very productive day!

toni susan kate








Now that we have a year’s notice before the next International Haiku Poetry Day, BHS can plan more concerted effort… perhaps freebie haiku handouts in towns and cities all across Britain?

Write-up: Susan Lee Kerr
Flyers and photos: Frank Williams

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