I ... entered the poem of life, whose purpose is ... simply to witness the beauties of the world, to discover the many forms that love can take. (Barabara Blackman in 'Glass After Glass')

These poems are works in progress and may be updated without notice. Nevertheless copyright applies to all writings here and all photos (which are either my own or used with permission). Thank you for your comments. I read and appreciate them all, and reply here to specific points that seem to need it — or as I have the leisure. Otherwise I reciprocate by reading and commenting on your blog posts as much as possible.

2 January 2005

Verse Portraits

Explanatory Note

In 2008 another blogger proposed a game of writing about people who had had an impact on you, in as many words as your age in years. It was supposed to be one a day for one year. I'm much slower than that, so the word count increases every time I have a birthday. On the other hand, I may well decide not to stop even when I finally reach 365.

They are numbered in order of writing. The timing is irregular.

There are other poems here which might be regarded as portraits but don't have that label, because they don't have that word count. Also some that do have the label are more like quick sketches. Nevertheless ...

1 January 2005

Haiku, Tanka and Me

Explanatory note

In 2007, having long admired the Japanese nature poems called haiku, I decided to try and write them. I thought it would be fun to have playmates in this endeavour, so I started the Haiku on Friday group on MySpace. This eventually moved to facebook, where it is co-administered by Phillip Barker (aka Soma) and me. 

(I also began the Tanka on Tuesday group on MySpace a little later. Tanka are Japanese five-line romantic poems, often sad. That group too moved to facebook, and is also co-administered with Phillip.)

On facebook, no-one sticks to specific days of posting, and many participants write three-line verses which are not very like traditional haiku. Some of them also diverge from the agreed-upon criteria for contemporary haiku. (It is a little easier to write tanka, but I wouldn't guarantee we're all doing that all the time, either.) In other words, it's all a lot harder than it looks!

Later I learned about senryu — poems in haiku form which are not about nature but human foibles; and about kyoka, a humorous style of tanka. Then I discovered lunes, an English version of haiku, of which there are two kinds, and American sentences, another English language variant. Naturally I played with all these forms, and the results are included here. And then there's gogyohka, a contemporary five-line Japanese form – superseded by gogyoshi.

I am not sure I have ever written 'real' haiku, tanka, senryu or kyoka. So I am now calling my relevant posts here 'haiku and things' and 'tanka and such' too. I'm giving anything up to five lines the additional tag 'micropoetry' — which existed before twitter but has been popularised by it.

So please don't go crook at me for my departures from correctness. I know, and I'll try to do better. That is, when I'm not just writing three-line or five-line poems with no formal pretensions, as I also do from time to time.