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.
BHS SPRING GATHERING, SATURDAY 10 JUNE 2017 11 AM – 5 PM
ST DENYS HALL, CHURCH STREET, CHISWICK
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.
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:
river lapping against
— David Bingham
the constant bob
of each moored boat
— Andrew Shimield
polling day fades
share a snog
— David Jacobs
trapped between the owner
and the dog
— Rose Ades
Beached house boats
side by side
wallow in the mud
— Howard Colyer
combing the river
ripple by ripple
— Debbie Antebi
on the wind
African wedding music
— Kate B Hall
gone to wilderness except
— Susan Lee Kerr
a crucifix stands apart
mobile phones rise and fall
“I do”, she replies
— Mark Floyer
each gravestone set
at a jaunty angle
— Frank Williams
splashes of colour
the artist’s grave
— Mark Gilfillan
(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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
the beggars thin face
her empty cup
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.
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!
the ebb and flow of its tide
sand castles collapse
rounded with a sleep
our revels now are spirits
dissolved into dreams
the water meadows exult
The whole day was interesting and creative, many thanks to participants and session leaders.
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!
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
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.
Congratulations to all the winners and runners-up and many thanks to all the participants in the Ohanami Festival and Haiku Contest!
Awards – International Section:
the shadow of my cherry tree
gets back home
— Magdalena Banaszkiewicz – Krosno Odrzańskie, Poland
cherry trees in bloom
he switches from charcoal
— Billy Antonio – Pangasinan, Philippines
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.
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.
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 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.
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!