Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world

Issue 1



Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society


Focus on




watching silent films

in the windows across the street



writing in the dark

unaware that my pen

has run out of ink


-- Ivan Akhmetiev





the world of the pond-scater

narrowing steadily



Misted glass...

the bus takes away

the mark of my palm



Film on the end of the world –

teletext: weather forecast

for tomorrow


-- Daria Batalina




old photographs

father's hand on my shoulder

a maple leaf



fancying the sea

in a stuffy carriage –

easy to breathe now


-- Elena Katsuba




Tired of stargazing,

I look down –

puddle full of stars



Poets at the pedestal –

covering them all,

shadow of the statue



Pigeon in the room

flies into the mirror

I reflect off it


-- Konstantin Kedrov




end of winter –

how thin

the tube of green bice!



flying up from the pool,

the swan beats back

against his shadow



pierced by

the stubble of the mowed lawn,

night sky



white winter meadow –

steam rising

from a lost mitten




to go down together –

two drops of water


-- Natasha Levi




wet night

hanging over the city –

chimneys hissing



both the wind

and I

back and forth



by the sea

where the rainbow ends –

my/your lips


-- Alexander Makarov-Krotkov




standing speechless

through an urge

to speak


-- Ira Novitskaya




Our dacha at sunset –

neighbours behind the fence

sawing silence



In the underpass

a fiddler pausing

listening to our footsteps



A beach in Fiumicino –

children build ruins

out of sand


-- Sofia Russinova





empty bottle gatherers...

I prepare for a journey


-- Tatyana Shcherbina




May morning candles

a chestnut-tree

in white flames



quivering timidly

the aspen's reflection

in chilly spring water



moonless night –

rereading your letter,

this time by heart



autumn morning

a tramp gives his place on the bench

to falling snow


-- Valeria Simonova (Russia/Italy)




deeper now...

shadow of the bow stabbing

the fiddler's shadow


-- Polina Strizhova




Belated guests

in the garden chairs



-- Julia Voronkova


Surrounded by

Russian, Bulgarian and English words,

cat's meow


-- Galina Yershova


standing guard

over the Chinese restaurant

a carnivorous plant



a pedestrian

slipping on a puddle,

falling onto himself


-- Kristina Zeytounian-Belous (Russia/France)


Translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky






Vera Markova’s ‘Ten Haiku Lessons’

by Anatoly Kudryavitsky


Vera Markova (1907 - 1995), Russian poet and academic, was renowned for her translations from classical Japanese poetry. She began translating Japanese tanka and haiku at the end of the 1960s, and less than ten years later published her translations from thirty poets, from Saigyô to Bashô to Kobayashi Issa, in the anthology Classical Japanese Poetry, which has since been regularly reprinted in Russia. A very interesting poet in her own right (and a life-long friend of the famous Marina Tsvetayeva), Vera Markova was a fluent Japanese speaker and travelled to Japan twice, on one occasion to receive from Emperor Hirohito an honorary medal commemorating her efforts in promoting Japanese culture abroad.

In her essay entitled ‘Hokku’, published in the afore-mentioned anthology, Prof. Markova analysed Bashô’s work, and in the following years used some of the topics highlighted in that essay in her lectures to university students. She taught them to appreciate Japanese tanka and haiku, but also tried to stir up their creativity.

Later, Prof. Markova wrote a short text offering a few suggestions for aspiring haiku writers. She added a few of her favourite quotations from Bashô, and at a later stage even included the opinion I gave while discussing the ‘Hokku’ essay with her, making me the third partner in that imaginary conversation, which was most flattering. She arranged parts of the text, belonging to its three authors, in a manner resembling that of the old Japanese masters of renga, linked verse. Her students used to call the text ‘Vera Markova’s ten haiku lessons’.

These ‘Haiku Lessons’ are reprinted here. I should mention that, as some readers may already have guessed, Vera Markova was the person who once introduced me to haiku, and so started me on an exciting and unpredictable journey…

  1. Allow your reader to think his way into your haiku. A revelation occurs when your and his thoughts meet at a halfway point. (VM)
  2. Watch the River Sunagawa flow: it is not trying to be deep. (MB)
  3. Bashô enjoyed reading and re-reading classical Chinese poetry, especially Tu Fu. There’s still plenty of water left in that well. (VM)
  4. Don’t follow good dead poets but search for what they searched for. (MB)
  5. The underlying theme of Bashô’s work is compassion. He avoided grotesque and mockery, and rightly so. (VM)
  6. Colour is important in haiku writing, however a ‘monochrome’ haiku can sometimes have even a stronger effect on the reader. (AK)
  7. Don’t try to be witty every time you write haiku: numerous ‘comic’ haikai-renga, written over the course of several centuries, are remembered merely because Shiki used the ‘hai’ syllable for the word ‘haiku’ that he invented. And bear in mind that ‘hai’ means ‘joke’ but also ‘surprise, an unusual thing’. (VM)
  8. Hokku can’t be assembled from component parts. Poet’s work is similar to that of a goldsmith. (MB)
  9. Bashô became the great poet Bashô only when his hokku reached the state of karumi (a Japanese word meaning ‘lightness, simple beauty’.) (VM)
  10. Haiku are always set in the present moment. Nevertheless, listen out for history breathing behind our contemporaries’ backs. (VM)

MB – Matsuo Bashô

VM – Vera Markova

AK – Anatoly Kudryavitsky


(First published in Poetry Ireland Newsletter, November / December 2006)







by Asya Shneiderman (St. Petersburg, Russia)




Haiku & Senryu


cold slams the air

clearing the bird-table

a sparrow-hawk



sitting with you...

burning through till dawn

the corridor light



deep in the wood

leaning against a pine tree

afternoon sun




through the door in my head

another door


-- Caroline Gourlay (England)




a new year . . .

watching hare inch

out of her warren



steadfast, the

horse, grazing in

her shadow



staring wistfully

at the moon . . .

year of the dog


-- Robert D Wilson (USA/Philippines)




sick in bed

my cast-off clothes




setting sun

a tractor's sound turns into

cricket songs



dense snowfall

the black cat disappears

behind the sofa


-- Dietmar Tauchner (Austria)




mosquitoes and young couples in love in another language


autumn illness the white noise of crickets


waking in a strange place to a voice not my own


after a night of drinking all the way home downhill


a wet-black boulder blue december sky


-- Jim Kacian (USA)




poor singing voices


they have built a nest



a small kitchen

the toaster

warms one corner




ladies with parasols

walk to the next painting


-- John Stevenson (USA)




a tiny brown frog

leaps from the spring pool

back into camouflage



Holy City market

hawkers ignore

the call to prayer



news of a birth

now news of a death…

waning harvest moon


-- Maeve O’Sullivan (Ireland)




the Japanese character:

one signpost

so many different roads



waiting for the bus

someone has scattered

seeds of orange poppy



fresh sheets on the line

torn ones draping

the young gooseberries


-- Judy Kendall (England)




Autumn chill

a skein of geese tangles

around the moon



Boating at summer's end –

the river slips through

my fingers



Blue twilight –

falling from wet branches

the scent of lilac


--Sylvia Forges-Ryan (USA)




New Year cards

good wishes 

threaded on a string 



winding road  

the moon gallivants 

from left to right




the moon slowly meets 

the streetlights 


-- Katherine Gallagher (Australia/England)




Old Curiosity Shop –

laquered dolls

out in the mid-day sun



art café –

the security guy hums

a James Bond theme




a periwinkle rotates

deeper into itself


-- Alan Summers (England)






A Crow’s Time

by Alan Summers



the sun is high    skinny lizards freeze in their own tableau

just the angry buzzing grind of cicadas


coarse grass curls

round my walking shoes

an ant enters my bag


I move through parched grass and fallen ringbarked gumtree

to a plain of rocks with high bramble to face a narrow path past caves

once home to something very ancient


fading last note

the torresian crow’s sound

a darkening sky


now    under a black sky    stars more bright than I've seen before

that shift   move   vibrate    to suggest something more

it’s my last sighting of Jupiter    above Venus


susurrus of moths

round fire that flickers on

like the night


it's brittle cutting cold    the moon's no longer full

this brutal simplicity of a night    a crow’s shade of feather


it spirals towards

the southern cross

my woodsmoke embers


quiet and dark    then a rustle reminds me of the Dreamtime Dingo

white and feral    imagination lends fear to a night that leers at me


it’s a long time before I see a lightening    but then

a quickening between two trees that’s a hurt violet    the morning


rekindling the fire

past pale blue trees

a red sunrise