Archive for October, 2008

in progress: Burning

October 15, 2008

photo by Kristian Birchall


I originally posted this one on my other blog, back in March. I’ve been trying without much success to come up with a decent haiku to end it. The first attempt was

first light –
a dusting of ash
against frost

which I don’t think is too bad … just not really right. It has no power. No mystery.

I toyed with a couple of other variations – trying to link the frost with fire, sunrise and ash. It should be do-able. I just haven’t been able to find it.

The current variation:

the last glimmer
goes out

which I feel moderately happy with. I like the conflation of the sunset with the embers. I’m just not sure if “glimmer” works as a noun … maybe gleam would be better?


William J Higginson dies of cancer

October 12, 2008

Details can be found here.

No-one who writes haiku in English could be unaware of Bill Higginson. He has probably done more than anyone else, up to and including RH Blyth, to bring haiku to the western world. His books are friendly and engaging, but also very intelligent and brimming over with passion.

His “Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku” was my reintroduction to haiku. It did a lot to shape my understanding of the form, and of where the form as written now, in English, was headed. It was actually the first book I ever bought online. (And if you don’t have a copy, get one now!) Then there were the two sajiki: Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac and The Haiku Seasons: Poetry of the Natural World. They opened my eyes to the way that seasonal references could work in my world, rather than just some semi-mythological Japanese reverie. I still consult them regularly, although I don’t obey the rules of seasonality.

I never met him face to face, but I was in a few online mailing lists that he participated in. He was unfailingly kind and helpful, even to people who insisted that haiku must be seventeen syllables, and who obviously had no idea of either what they were talking about, or who it was that they were lecturing so rudely.


There are no words but the obvious. He will be missed.