Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world

Issue 11


Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society


IHS International Haiku Competition 2009 announced!

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2009 offers prizes of Euro 150, Euro 50 and Euro 30 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English. In addition there will be up to seven Highly Commended haiku/senryu.

Details here:

All the entries shall be postmarked by 31th October 2009. No e-mail submissions, please!

Good luck to all!

Focus on



from the lotus leaf
into a big cloud – 
a frog’s merry leap

a crab at low tide
trying to catch

car headlights –
white rabbit nibbles
a blood-coloured carrot

in Scotland –
a sheep traffic jam

-- Bill Bilquin (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

back from work –
clouds form the arch 
of welcomes

-- Elie Duvivier (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

with the back of her hand
she caresses the book
once finished

-- Elie Duvivier (transl. from French by Aisling White)

nothing but arid land –
and all of a sudden,
a flower

by the fragrance of a flower,
the moonlight’s silver

-- Germain Droogenbroodt (transl. from Flemish by the author and Martin Culverwell)

rapping on ear-drums,
a cicada choir

in the white thorn-apple flower,
this evening’s silence

roots in the dirt,
blooms whiter than whiteness –
a lotus flower

-- Germain Droogenbroodt (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

a waterdrop 
trying to merge with another
where the river dries up

-- Maurice Gilliams (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

morning sun
the dark fields

falling blossoms -
the wind gathers them
in the gutter

evening on the beach -
in the distance, a boat
overtaking the sun

falling down together,
flower petals
and snowflakes

full moon
the faint rustle
of ripe corn

-- Marc Hendrickx (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

birds' skeletons
lightly resting 
among fallen leaves

under the blades of the plough 
cloud shadows
and meadow grass

-- Werner Lambersy (transl. from French by Aisling White)

shrunken leaf
on the kitchen floor –
awaited since summer

he smokes in the doorway
only the smoke 
leaves the house

on the tablecloth,
forks, spoons and somebody’s 
scarred wrists

-- Werner Lambersy (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

May evening -
more distant than bird songs,
a cuckoo's call

dead calm -
suddenly, the rustle of snow
dropping off a pine branch

my elderly neighbour
clearing snow not farther
than his mailbox

driving 90mph...
floating slowly inside my car,
willow fluff

-- Bart Mesotten (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

high in the sky –
not definable

-- Marcel Peltier (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

chilly wind
silence walks the streets
this December morning

-- Marcel Smets (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

cool sea breeze -
at twilight, the shadow
of a cormorant

a couple behind a haystack
thinking they're safe -
summer afterglow

seaside holiday -
after an argument,
salty kisses

-- Frans Terryn (transl. from Flemish by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

morning bomb alert –
blossoming apple-trees
smell of kerosene

-- Serge Tomé (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


in the garden, the wind
makes my late father's washed pants

nursing their faded past -
weary autumn gardens

-- Anise Koltz (transl. from French by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


end of a long walk 
every stone underfoot

waiting room -
sunbeams resting 
in the shabby seats

pristine snow -
everything is still possible
this New Year morning

-- Adri van den Berg (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

at an auction:
dead butterfly in a box
next to three slugs

braced up,
a cat shoots up the tree –
a hunt underway

a twig 
gliding down to a quiet park,
straining my dreams

huge figs –
a metallic-green fly
seats itself on them

red currant –
this dying summer’s memories 
of spring

-- Jan Bontje (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

freshly cut grass
on the sloping hills -
I cycle past its fragrance

the busker
picks up his earnings,
gives small change to a beggar

-- Jeroen de Bruin (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

a dove couple
in the misty spring rain –
shoulder to shoulder

-- Anton Gerits (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

white cloud
creating a grey shadow pool
between the two villages

virgin snow
under the parked cars -
and nowhere else

night train
the only thing in view
is myself

last dune...
the sea receives me
with open arms

the street where I was born -
all looks so small
except the trees

-- Ria Giskes-Pieters (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

the gate 
of a walled cemetery -
predictably, it beeps

in a calm swamp,
two mallard ducks chop the moon
into pieces

worn jacket -
on the inside,
a spare button

riverside cemetery -
the family's gone home
but the sound lingers

-- Ida Gorter (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

behold, an elephant
turning into two dogs!
clouds in the wind 

-- Marianne Kiauta (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

deeper darkness
above the churchyard...
the stars shine brighter

the train has passed -
following it, silence moves
in the same direction

southward bound,
a silver stripe
in the blue holiday sky

-- Els Kooyman (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

war childhood –
not even grass left to play on
this summer

-- Paul Kreetz (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

yet again
dreams of soldiers
treading upon spring grass

pattering on the tiles
in the deepest darkness,
winter rain

a scarecrow
falls face down
embraces the earth 

-- Wim Lofvers (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

looking back –
staring at me,
thousands of sunflowers

-- Hans Reddingius (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

mirror room
each time a different image
of the same thing

--  Leon Scevenels (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

a white swan flying
low above the dark water
disturbing the still

-- Henk van Setten (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

between the bunkers,
frolicking bunnies
in the dying light

-- Abel Staring (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

greeting a blind man…
his dog looks straight
into my eyes

quiet square -
only the equestrian statue's shadow

calm Sunday
an elm's shadow
goes round

tin soldiers -
the quick and the dead
in the same box

old people's home -
in each window,

-- Max Verhart (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

as I walk by,
they look out the windows...

raked into a pile
between the graves,
last summer's leaves

cold waves splash -
a seaside crow's head
sunk into shoulders

-- Gerrit Wassing (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)



Haiku in the Netherlands and in Flanders

The Dutch-speaking area comprises the Netherlands and the northern part of Belgium known as Flanders, where the version of the language spoken there is called Flemish. There are two languages spoken in the Netherlands: Dutch and Frisian. Most of the Frisians who live in the northern province of Friesland are bilingual and speak both Frisian and Dutch. Haiku are known in the Netherlands since about 1980, and they are being written in both Dutch and Frisian.


The first Dutchman, and, as far as we know, the first Westerner, who has written haiku, was Hendrik Doeff (1777-1835). From 1798 till 1817 he stayed on Deshima, a small artificial island in the harbour of Nagasaki in Japan, which housed a Dutch trading post. At that time this settlement was the only connection point between the thoroughly closed Japanese society and the outside world. Apart from the fact that the chief of that colony visited the shogun in the capital city of Edo yearly or once in two years, the Dutch people were seldom allowed to set foot on Japanese soil; hence the artificial island. But this fact did not prevent Dutch and Japanese people from communicating. In the resulting cultural exchange, haiku were mentioned and discussed. Doeff, for several years chief of the settlement, was interested in the Japanese language, and published his Dutch-Japanese dictionary. Moreover, two haiku composed by him can be found in Japanese publications that appeared in the course of his stay in Japan. But there is no proof that Doeff was still interested in haiku after his return to the Netherlands. And he played no role in spreading haiku outside of its country of origin. This actually never happened before the 20th century.

Although haiku were only accepted as a form of Dutch-language poetry around 1980, they  incidentally attracted some attention of Dutch poets before that. The good example of that is the work of the Dutch poet J.C. van Schagen (1891 - 1985). Having made a name for himself by writing mainstream poetry, he later got used to writing 5-7-5 poems. He preferred not to call these texts haiku, though; probably because he wrote his miniatures in a very personal way and so wanted to avoid discussions if they were haiku or not. He sometimes called those small poems “reflexes”, but he acknowledged the Japanese influence on himself when he commented on them. 

In Flanders, Bart Mesotten started writing and promoting haiku in the early 1970s.  In 1976 he joined forces with a few other writers interested in this type of poetry and founded the Haikoe-centrum Vlaanderen (Haiku Centre Flanders). In 2000 he was awarded for his efforts in promoting haiku with the Shiki Masaoka International Haiku Grand Prize in Matsuyama, Japan. 

A highly important anthology titled Een nieuwe maan (“A new moon”), was edited by J. van Tooren (1900 - 1991) and published in 1973. The editor was already in her fifties when she got acquainted with haiku after reading the works of R.H. Blythe. She started to learn Japanese when she was sixty, and after some time was able to read classical haiku in the language they were written in. She went on to translate many Japanese haiku into Dutch. The anthology she compiled had an introduction dedicated to the origin and the history of haiku, as well as to haiku rules. The book sparked a rather broad interest among the readers, and inspired many people to try their hand at writing haiku. In 1980 eight of such haiku admirers established the Haiku Kring Nederland (Haiku Circle Netherlands).

The way haiku developed in the Netherlands and Flanders can probably characterise the path the other European countries followed, or maybe not just European but all the non-Japanese nations. Initially most efforts in haiku writing imitated classical Japanese haiku, especially those presented in the books by R.H. Blythe and Van Toorn. Later, poets started looking for their own way and  trying to write poems being 'in the culture' and 'in the language', by which I mean the Dutch language and culture. Probably the most prominent haiku poet among them was W.J. van der Molen (1923-2002), who made himself a name as a poet in the 1950s, and then, in the 1980s, took a special interest in haiku. Like Van Schagen before him, he wrote haiku in an unusual way, preferring this to imitating classical Japanese poetry. 

Generally, there were two stages  in the development of Dutch-language haiku: the first stage was about haiku being adopted, and the second, about finding the original way of writing them in our language. We can say that since the late 1990s  all the parts of the Dutch-speaking area  reached the second stage of haiku development. As a result, we now see more and more free-form haiku appearing in the Dutch-language publications, in addition to plenty of classical haiku. Of course, poets like Van Schagen and Van der Molen seem to have skipped the imitative stage completely.


Both the Haiku Centre of Flanders (HCF), which has about 80 members, and the Haiku Circle of Netherlands (HCN), having about 200 members, are associations catering for all of Flanders and all of the Netherlands respectively. Their goals are to promote haiku and stimulate haiku writing in Dutch. They organise haiku meetings, discussions and workshops.

A few years ago the HCN started organising ginko, i.e. haiku excursions with the discussions of haiku written in the course of the ginko.

There are also small regional groups, members of which are not necessarily also members of the HCF or the HCN. However, all such groups are headed or otherwise co-ordinated by a member of the national haiku association. The Frisian group of haiku poets preferred to name itself Froaskedobbe, which is Frisian for frog-pond, thus acknowledging one of the Basho's haiku. The Haiku Society of America, as we all know, chose the same name for its magazine.


The HCF and the HCN co-publish the quarterly titled Vuursteen (“Flint”). This magazine founded in 1981 is dedicated to haiku, senryu, tanka and related forms of poetry. It publishes newly-written Dutch-language and occasionally Frisian-language haiku and provides relevant information about haiku activities in the low countries.  The articles published in Vuursteen over the last quarter of the century dealt with the origins and the development of haiku, specifically in Japan, and analysed various techniques used in haiku writing. Essays on haiku movements in other parts of the world also appeared in Vuursteen, as well as book reviews. It is the oldest still existing haiku magazine in Europe. It also publishes, quite regularly, haiku in the South African language, which originates in the 17th century Dutch, and is one of the official languages of South Africa, formerly a Dutch colony.

In 1991 W.J. van der Molen started a magazine that he called Kortheidshalve (“for brevity's sake”). It appeared three times a year, and was dedicated to short poetry in general, with an emphasis on haiku. Van der Molen was one of the editors of Vuursteen, but became dissatisfied with the other editors' rather traditional approach to the genre. So the haiku poets who preferred to write free-form haiku and to experiment found a tribune in another magazine called Kortheidshalve. The last issue of it was brought out in 2002 by Van der Molen’s friends after his death. 

Another magazine published in the Netherlands (even in Friesland!) was Woodpecker, an international journal dedicated to haiku from all over the world. They appeared in the original languages; non-English-language haiku were supplied with English translations. Between 1995 and 2002 issues of Woodpecker appeared twice a year.

In 2000 the HCN was celebrating its 20th anniversary, and on that occasion it published a volume of haiku and tanka written by its members; it was entitled aan het woord (“speaking”). This book was critically acclaimed, and lead the HCN and the HCF to jointly produce such a collection every two years. In 2008 the fifth anthology of this kind hit the shelves of book-shops.

We have to mention that bigger publishing houses have always shown little or no interest in Dutch haiku whatsoever. Works by Dutch haiku writers have traditionally been published by small presses, sometimes subsidised by the author. There were many self-published haiku collections, as well. The lack of quality never seemed to be an obstacle for such publications. This was the way a lot of substandard haiku found their way onto book pages, which harmed the reputation of the Dutch haiku movement. Anyway, in the Dutch literary world haiku hardly have any standing. With a few exceptions neither publishing houses nor reviewers of poetry show much interest in haiku. My opinion is, we should strive not for the acceptance of haiku in the literary world, but mostly for perfection in haiku writing. This may help us to gain such acceptance, after all.

Max Verhart

(Max Verhart is the editor of Vuursteen and a former President of the Haiku Circle of Netherlands)

The author's self-translation of this essay was edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky


"Glass Trees" by Jan Warnaar (The Netherlands)


Haiku and Senryu

Kakadu lilies
a yellow glint
in the crocodile’s eye

the way she raises
her eyelashes

on this longest night
she begins to knit a scarf
for the wind

belly dance school
the moon
at the window

-- Lorin Ford (Australia)

a bumblebee
in summer dusk
humming along

last stop
an elderly man
the only one

long shadows
over the cornfield stubble
crows descending

living up to their name
autumn wind 

-- Terry O'Connor (Ireland)

passing train
two cirrus clouds
couple together

morning sun
a poplar sheds
the night's rain

-- an'ya (USA)

full moon -
the wind stirs the darkness
in the fox field

still talking
after I've gone -
the widow next door

-- David Serjeant (England)

autumn tramp
the landscape woven
into my socks

a picket fence holds back
the garden

-- Quendryth Young (Australia)

pasture cairn
the old farmer’s
bent spine

white catkins
haze the willow –
dawn fog

-- Catherine J.S. Lee (USA)

shooting star
through the sycamore
two falling leaves

traffic by the creek
the fisherman’s eyes
meet mine

--  Dave Moore (USA)

through the classroom window
a netball’s net
hangs loose

autumn sun -
copper beech colours
changing in the wind

-- Irene Brown (Scotand)

the outcast fushia
seeds wall cavity...
growing solitary life

thin sky lines
spinning suns
on hospital blankets

-- Noel King (Ireland)

in the yard 

deep in the flood my father's voice 

-- Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah (Ghana)

gulmohar tree
a girl with lilac
awaits a rickshaw

-- R.K. Singh (India)

broken bridge
a kayak slips silently
between two clouds

-- Patrick Druart (France)

train to Westport -
three cows
enjoying sunshine

-- Sinéad Mac Devitt (Ireland)

first butterfly
how lonely
among the flowers

-- Philip Cruden (Northern Ireland - England)

inside the cocoon winter time

-- Mark Lonergan (Ireland)

autumn sun
glistening on
discarded fireworks

-- Rena Rowe (Ireland)

snow flickering 
through darkness...
a holy candle

-- Jerm Curtin (Ireland)

a bubble
blinks to existence 
blinks out again

-- Patrick Hopkins (Ireland)

midnight river -
flamingos drink
the stars

-- Ryan Fitzpatrick (Ireland)

a shivering
blade of grass...
the breath of moonlight

-- Catherine O'Sullivan (Ireland)

gentle June breeze
maple leaves

-- Michael Gallagher (Ireland)

night shift
a baker looks at the crescent
among the clouds

-- Artur Lewandowski (Poland, translated by Rafal Zabratynski)

red fruits
causing the branches to bend...
can't raise my weary hands

-- Elena Galinovskaya (Russia, translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

driving home -
in all directions, wind burst
of dandelion seeds

-- Donna K. Everhart (USA)




The Unexpected

by Barbara A. Taylor (Australia)




to Geraldine                  

day dreaming
drunk on daytura
in a hammock

Golden shafts paint these sacred rocks. A koel calls. I read the news of her death. No-one had told me, but what could I do? I was waiting, as usual, for her next email. Her epistles came from time to time. She would tell me her news and talk of what she’s writing. Two years ago she’d asked me to scatter her mother’s ashes back in the auld country. I carried out that request on my last trip back to Ireland. From the Giant’s Causeway's winding track I sent her mother out to the angry sea. Sadly now, her daughter too, is gone. I am left speechless.

breaking the silence
silver cockatoos’ shrieks
in the mists




Book Review

Haiku Enlightenment
By Gabriel Rosenstock

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Newcastle upon Tyne, 2009
122 pp, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-0521-6
Available via

Haiku: The Gentle Art of Disappearing
By Gabriel Rosenstock

Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Newcastle upon Tyne, 2009
138 pp, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-1133-0
Available via

The two collections of essays by the renowned Irish haijin Gabriel Rosenstock are reviewed here together, mostly because they could have appeared under one cover. Still, there is a significant difference between the two.

An early draft of “Haiku Enlightment” was serialised in World Haiku Review, so some of our readers may already be acquainted with it. In the book, as well as in the WHR, the material is given in refreshingly small portions... or is it only the author of this review who hates reading long chapters, sometimes not even divided into paragraphs? Gabriel Rosenstock himself says that “the book is best savoured in sips!”

“Haiku Enlightment” is primarily aimed at experienced haiku writers who want to examine their writing process comparing it to that of others. At the same time it can be of great help to a newcomer to the land of haiku, because it comments on the very essence of this genre. After all, scores of people attempt writing Japanese short-form poetry not knowing much about the subject; some of them naively believe that following the 5-7-5 pattern is everything in haiku writing. They can't be farther from the truth...

In the first part of “Haiku Enlightment” the author examines haiku moment as a dynamic pause. Haiku enlightment happens when time stops – that is, for the enlighted person. Enlightenment is a sudden breath of freedom. Death is the longest pause. Haiku can be soul-awakeing... These are only a few of the author's theses.

Enlightment undoubtedly is the core of haiku writing. A haiku poet, even if he/she is far from Buddhism, must strive for the enlightment of a Buddha. After all, writing is the experience of telling the complete truth (as the writer sees it) to the others; the truth is always personal, but complete honesty is essential: poetry is known to mirror its author.

A reader of this book follows haiku-no-michi, the path of haiku, learning how to stop and listen, and how important it is to pay attention to what happens right here and right now. As Ruskin famously taught his students to see, Rosenstock appeals to his readers to “see with the heart”. He writes about the feeling of oneness with Nature, human beings and all creatures, despite modern days' “estrangement, alienation... the pathologies of the 21st century.” He quotes one of the haiku by Issa in his own English-language version, just to show "the fullness of emptiness":

up he comes
my favourite cormorant -
empty beak!

The reader won't fail to notice that the author quotes quite a number of haiku throughout the book, and comments on them, which helps him to draw conclusions. His choice of quoted poems is always interesting. 

The “Haiku Enlightment” volume has an appendix where useful tips for writing haiku are given. We especially liked the following two: “Increase your nature vocabulary in as many realms as possible.” And: “Enjoy yourself!”

“The Gentle Art of Disappearing” can be regarded as a sequel to “Haiku Enlightment”. This is a philosophical essay on the brevity of haiku and non-existence as the essence of an author's selflessness. The whole idea seems to be derived from the following phrase by R.H. Blyth: "Reality is not the question not the answer, but in the pause between the two."

"Would you like to disappear?" the author asks, and then describes various kinds of such disappearance: disappearing in the haiku moment, disappearing in the flame, disappearing in the ordinary, disappearing in light, disappearing in hte garden, disappearing in sound, disappearing in silence, disappearing in the game, disappearing with the birds...

Then a question arises, this one: 'Is it safe to disappear?' So far as we understood, the answer is, we constantly change, so the person who comes out of the state of disappearance is not exactly the same as the person who has entered it. Gabriel Rosenstock sees haiku as "a great, eventful homecoming." He quotes Jean Houston who once remarked: "The veils of the soul are lifted". This is not a bad metaphor for haiku enlightment!

There's a lot more to both books of essays on haiku by Gabriel Rosenstock, so we hope they'll find attentive readers. Both are a good read and a worthy addition to anybody's collection of books on haiku. After all, we haven't had many of the kind lately...

These books can equally appeal to those who never tried composing short-form poetry but this category of readers should exercise some caution here: the books may cause a reader to get into haiku writing, which is quite addictive!

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

Doghouse Books

DOGHOUSE Books have a limited number of copies left of two collections of haiku poems by two Irish haijin:

John W Sexton. Shadows Bloom. DOGHOUSE Books. Reviewed here

Anatoly Kudryavitsky. Morning at Mount Ring. DOGHOUSE Books. Reviewed here

One can get them postage free for the price of €12 to anywhere in the world.

Also, check out here the range of poetry books and anthologies we've published.

PO Box 312
Co. Kerry

Tel: +353 (0)66 7137547
Fax: +353 (0)66 7137547