Category Archives: Recent Events

Free Verse: The Poetry Book and Magazine Fair 2018

Free Verse – The Poetry Book & Magazine Fair: Saturday 22 September 2018, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm 22 Sepr 2018

As part of the BHS on-going outreach programme, and for the 4th year running we had a table at the new venue, Senate House, London, of ‘Free Verse, The Poetry Book & Magazine Fair ‘, run by the ‘Poetry Society’, and organised by Julie Bird. Senate House is a brilliant venue, and it attracted a lot people, even though it was a rainy day.

In total we made £80.00 from the sale of books, which was nearly double what we made last year. We met some brilliant people and hopefully made some converts to haiku. Our BHS member from USA Robin Smith came especially to meet us during her stay in London.
Helpers on the day were Kate B. Hall, Iliyana Stoyanova, Debbi Antebi, David Bingham, David Jacobs and Frank Williams. Above are a few photos from the day.

Photos and write-up by Frank Williams

BHS at Wagamama, Chelmsford

2 August 2018


Haiku contest for the opening of Wagamama Chelmsford IMG_3770

This summer, the British Haiku Society was approached by Wagamama to assist them with a series of restaurant openings across England. As a new and eager member, I volunteered to help with the Chelmsford branch and, some weeks later during the height of the heat wave, found myself on the train to a city I had never been to, to teach total strangers about the marvelous and mysterious form that is haiku.
The Wagamama marketing team were very helpful in the fortnight leading up to the event and gave me a generous budget from which to provide haiku entertainments and draw a fee. We decided that as it was to be an outdoors event, with diners turning up at different times, it would be best if I could run a haiku contest, whilst walking around to chat informally about haiku with the visitors individually as they waited for their dishes to arrive.
With this in mind, I turned up early and brought decorations of origami cranes in the Wagamama colours of black, white and orange to set at each place on the table alongside a haiku competition entry form and a biro. I had a table to one side (next to a very charming sake stand) and covered it with more entry forms, some beginners’ haiku guides I had written and printed, and of course the grand prize: a copy of Haiku: Classic Japanese Short Poems published by Amber Books, a mini notebook and pen, and a Wagamama tote bag.
As I wandered around and talked to people about haiku, I was amazed by the enthusiasm with which they greeted me. Everyone was friendly and incredibly eager to learn about and write haiku, particularly the children, who encouragingly had all been learning about them at school. It made my job very easy: the hard part was judging so many fabulous entries. In the end the prize went to a lovely family, who had between three of them submitted over twelve excellent haiku!
I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to help with this event and am immensely grateful to both the British Haiku Society and Wagamama for making it happen and welcoming me on board.

Write-up by Jasmin Kirkbride


BHS at Wagamama, Liverpool

12 June 2018 

I was very kindly invited by The British Haiku Society to attend the opening evening event at Wagamama, a Japanese influenced restaurant in Liverpool. As soon as I entered Wagamama I knew I had entered an oasis of calm and tranquility with a distinct Zen like quality of flow.  I felt immediately that haiku had a home here.

The restaurant was soon filled with people eager to taste the Japanese inspired food and at the same time experience for themselves the concept of haiku and how integrated it is into Japanese culture. The guests were given a selection of Haiku Cubes which act as a medium of inspiration in creating their own unique poem. Alongside this was cherry blossom paper with 2 examples of haiku written by one of Japan’s most prolific Haiku Master’s Matsuo Basho. Together with 2 haiku written in the 21st century. It made for some great inspiration and anticipation at the chance to create live haiku on the night.

This was followed by my talk about haiku – it’s origins, form and influence in society back in the 17th century and in the 21st century. And also a little bit about Basho and how integral he was to both the expansion and awareness of haiku in the Japanese culture. The guests were then presented with the most delicious food which I can only describe as nothing less than works of Art! And the Head Chef visited each table and gave a talk on the food, it’s flavours alongside its Japanese influence.

In-between Mains and Deserts every one got busy writing Haiku! And I have to say the Haiku produced was of such a high standard, some of which were a strict 17 syllabic count which was very impressive.
There was a chosen winner and a prize of a haiku collection book was given.

It was wonderful to see how a form of poetry from many centuries ago had traveled from Japan to Liverpool into the 21st Century and maintained its ability to reconnect “Self with self” and connect people to each other. It restored my faith in the power and ability of words to heal the world haiku by haiku.

Write-up by Rose Booth



BHS Spring Gathering 19 May 2018



BHS SG 2018

This year the BHS Spring Gathering took place in the Meeting Room at the Kensington Central Library. There were four main parts to the day:

(1) Spring Gathering Haiku

In the morning session led by Debbi Antebi, participants wrote haiku on the theme of ‘spring gathering’. There were many different perspectives and approaches to the same theme, as will be seen from the examples below. 

spring gathering
its wits and me –
royal wedding
Alan Summers  

Spring Gathering haiku
Spring Gathering haiku

spring gathering
around the old oak
a mass of daffs
Andrew Shimield

spring gathering
i scribble something
& cross it out
Caroline Skanne 

Coffee break between the activities
Coffee break between the activities

the sound of bicycle tyres    
down lanes in spring
with my many selves
Colin Blundell 

spring gathering…
the squirrel always first
at the bird feeder
David Bingham

spring gathering my strength for a haiku
David Jacobs    

Kensington Gardens
Kensington Gardens

spring gathering
the scent of wisteria
at my doorstep
Debbi Antebi

a gathering
finding fellowship & fun
lambs gambol
Di Davy      

spring gathering
my muse didn’t visit
the park today
Frank Williams

spring gathering
Zebedee, Dylan and all,
Howard Colyer

sunny breakthrough –
in the poplar fluff
a mini rainbow
Iliyana Stoyanova    

David Bingham and Mark Gilfillan
David Bingham and Mark Gilfillan

spring gathering
hares on the hill
some boxing
Kate B Hall

a gathering of eggs
the cuckoo
cracks first
Mark Gilbert

along platforms
little groups of flag-wavers
spring gatherings
Mark Gilfillan

gathering of crows
at dusk
Paul Hickey

I find my way
by unfamiliar routes
spring gathering
Susan Lee Kerr

(2) ‘Whoku’ Session

This session was led by Mark Gilbert, who informed us about a relatively new form of haiku/senryu in which one line (or part of a one-line poem) consists of the name of a person who is alive, dead, real or fictional. Some examples of the form were shared, and participants were asked to try their hand at writing whoku.      

Mark Gilbert
Mark Gilbert

the impossible shine
of his shoes

the wren’s song is perfect
the wren’s song is improvised    
Leonard Cohen

Lionel Hampton
on iron

Mark Gilbert


(3) Ginko and Kukai

Frank Williams
Frank Williams

We were fortunate to have a sunny afternoon for the ginko in Hyde Park, which was led by Alan Summers. Upon our return, we shared the haiku that had been produced and held a haiku contest (kukai). The winner of the contest was Frank Williams, who received a haiku book prize. 

Here is his winning haiku: 

perfect day
the sat on log has
its own rhythm



(4) Haibun Time

The day finished with a haibun activity led by David Bingham, who discussed different ways in which haibun may be written and shared strategies for crafting strong pieces. Participants were then asked to write their own haibun based on their ginko experience and to share their writing within their groups.

BHS poets at the Spring Gathering 2018
BHS poets at the Spring Gathering 2018


Overall, it was a great day filled with haikai activities, and the feedback received from the participants was very positive.

Write-up by Debbi Antebi
Photos by Debbi Antebi, Frank Williams, Howard Colyer and Iliyana Stoyanova

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