Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world

Issue 12



Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society


Shamrock Haiku Journal Readers' Choice Awards 

We invite all the readers of Shamrock Haiku Journal to vote for the best haiku/senryu poem published in 2009, i.e. in the issues NINE to TWELVE (you cannot vote for your own poem, though). To vote, send an e-mail to irishhaikusociety[at] with "Best haiku of 2009" or "Best senryu of 2009" in the subject line. Please insert the full text of the poem you vote for (only ONE poem in each category) plus the name of its author in the body of your e-mail. The deadline for vote is 28th February, 2010. The best poems will be named in the next issue of Shamrock Haiku Journal.


Focus on


I take a step on ice

the whole valley


funeral –

spring wind

wrapped in a flag

-- Dimitar Anakiev (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

whispering silence

in the mountain vale –

falcon screech

birth of a rainbow –

a snail crawls along the path

towards wet leaves

-- Anica Bedič (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

blazing sun

a forgotten umbrella

so lonely on the stairs

-- Zvonka Bizjak (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

working together

in my garden,

myself and an ant

sleepless night

a bare branch

silhouetted against the moon

a dry branch breaks

under my foot

the grove silent no more 

-- Jana Fišinger-Jelen (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

solitary pine tree

already touching

the edge of a city

-- Bojan Foršček (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

half asleep,

I look at dew on the roses…

birds sing

-- Sonja Golec (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

in the glass face

of my watch,

the Universe

hillside tree –

among the dead leaves,

a blue tit

this scared bird’s

angry chirp,

who is it addressed to?

empty boat

swaying by the shore…

high tide lingers

a raindrop on each thorn

of this sprig…

end of the day

-- Marko Hudnik (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

after a snowfall,

morning silence and the shadows

of crows’ wings

pine shadow

an old man and his walking stick

take a rest

-- Tatjana Jamnik (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

overgrown path

after I pass, the spider

mends the hole

speedy ride –

a fly inside the car

adjusts her wings

-- Darja Kocjančič (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

rustling pinewood –

a sunbeam shows the way

to a procession of ants

small cicadas …

the pinewood echoes with

the trembling of their wings

-- Zlatka Levstek (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

on the other side, too…

birds drying their wings

atop the rainbow arch

-- Špela Lovišček (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

apricot blossoms 

and snowflakes…

bees refrain from visiting

sunflower field…

how many yellow pages

on the wall?

-- Marijan Mauko (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

falling leaves…

with each day, the sky looks wider

from under these trees

still pond

a passing bird

sees herself

discarded pot

full of rainwater…

a reflected rainbow

a lame girl

in the swing

her happy squeal

tower in the evening glow

the cheerful nodding

of a bell

-- Silva Mizerit (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

shower has stopped

the road provides small mirrors

for the clouds

river stillness

a swan slumbers

on top of a white cloud

river fisherman

slowly pulling a fish

out of the cloud

-- Janez Mrdavšič (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

torrents of willow seeds

the swan 

sheds a feather 

permeating through

the dimming sunlight,

a blackbird’s song

dull day ends

last sunbeams linger 

on forsythia blossoms

snow forecast –

the sun in a pond 

hides behind clouds

winter day –

the rising fog devours

the landscape

-- Polona Oblak (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

setting sun…

the smooth snake’s shadow hides

in a mole’s burrow

-- Marko Pak (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

pigeons’ shadows in the square…


trample them

-- Stane Pevec (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

a parting hug

the mirror in my pocket


-- Vladka Rejc (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

between branches

into the morning,

the creeping sun

-- Primož Repar (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

on a shabby roof

covered with damp moss,

a quiet crow

see how he flits 

out of the dried-up well,

a scared sparrow


making a warm nest

in the old helmet

-- Rudi Robič (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

mountain trail –

bird song interrupted by

a beeping mobile phone

evening toll

filling the space

between snowflakes

misty morning

stoplight highlights the driver’s

face in the next car

-- Edin Saračević (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

mountain’s dark slope –

a deer gorges on blackberries

until dusk

-- Slavica Šavli (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

evening river –

behind the passing teal,

shards of the crescent

a piece of the crescent moon

between the curtains –

night moth

blinding moon –

the shadow of an old bridge

on bright stones

-- Rudi Stopar (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

above me, the sky,

next to me, a tree –

I’m one too many here

-- Smiljan Trobiš (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

cutting the grass –

robin on a bough 

waiting for me to stop

village by night

a telegraph pole all alone

in the street

room for two in my bedroom…

a spider and I

each in his corner

-- Jože Volarič (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

in a wild frenzy,

the chained dog sells out

a trapped man

-- Klavdija Zbičajnik (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

icy morning

the bus plastered with

Marilyn Monroe posters

looking for glow-worms,

a curious kid

wielding a torch

misty morning –

as I buy a sunflower, the sun

comes out

goats in the pen

the wind directs the clouds

towards the skyline

licking ice cream…

the wind adds

a salty taste

-- Alenka Zorman (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





The Slovenian Haiku Scene


by Alenka Zorman


Haiku were first introduced to Slovenian readers in the second half of the last century. It was done by Vladimir Gajšek, Mart Ogen and Iztok Geister, Slovenian poets and haiku enthusiasts. Classical Japanese haiku were first translated to our language by Mart Ogen and subsequently published in two anthologies titled Haiku and Mala antologija japonske lirike / A Little Anthology of Japanese Poetry (both 1975). It is an interesting fact to note that the Slovenian haijin of that period were influenced not only by the classical examples but also by the works of Vladimir Devidé, the well-known Croatian haijin.

One of the major events in the development of haiku in our country was the founding of the first Slovenian haiku magazine, Prijatelj (1996). It was edited by the poet Dimitar Anakiev, who was also a co-founder of the World Haiku Association. A few Slovenian authors of haiku were published in Knots, an anthology of South-Eastern European haiku poetry (1999).

In September 1997 a group of Slovenian poets founded the Haiku Club of Slovenia (HCS). The number of HCS members was on the increase, and at some stage the HCS had thirty to forty members on average. That year the HCS started publishing its magazine titled Letni časi / Seasons. A few years ago it became a bilingual Slovenian/English publication. Haiku by several other Slovenian and foreign-based poets who weren’t formally members of the Club appeared in it, too. The magazine was delivered to the members of the HCS, to haiku clubs and to some foreign haiku poets. The last number of the magazine (No 30/31) appeared in January 2007, and the publication was discontinued. Many of the issues of Letni časi are still available online. In 2001 the HCS published an anthology of Slovenian haiku titled Teh nekaj besed / These Few Words. Almost six hundred of the included haiku had previously been published in Letni časi / Seasons.

The following years in the history of the HCS can be described as a period of stagnation. The interest in haiku has fallen, the HCS is currently facing financial problems, and there are no more enthusiastic volunteers who would work for the Club. One of the reasons may have been the increase in the number of haiku blogs. The possibility to publish haiku in a blog seemed to be tempting for many. Since then a few of the most active Slovenian haiku poets have published their works on their blogs, sometimes beside photographs or as haiga. Several Slovenian literary magazines still publish haiku, and there have been quite a number of self-published haiku collections out there.

Another Slovenian literary association, Apokalipsa, is quite active at promoting haiku. They organise an annual international haiku contest; in 2010 they will hold their eleventh.  They also publishes haiku in their literary magazine titled Apokalipsa, which is well-read in our country. In 1998 and 2001, two special editions of Apokalipsa were devoted to haiku exclusively. Since 2000 Apokalipsa also publishes bilingual Slovenian/English haiku collections by Slovenian and foreign haiku poets. So far they have brought out six of such books, each containing works by four authors, and they are planning to publish more. In 2005, the Apokalipsa Association published Ribnik Tišine / Pond of Silence (2005), an important anthology comprising fifty haiku by fifty Slovenian poets, with translations into twelve languages. In March of the same year the Apokalipsa Association together with the HCS organised a haiku festival in the Slovenian House of Culture in Ljubljana, as a part of the Festival of Japanese Art and Culture. There were two Croatian poets among the guests. (On the copyright infringement committed by the Apokalipsa Publishing and the poet Marko Hudnik in 2010 see the editorial in Shamrock No16 - ed.)

Marko Hudnik, the former editor-in-chief of Letni časi / Seasons magazine, presented the history of Slovenian haiku and wrote about haiku as a genre of poetry in the Encyclopaedia of Slovenian Literature that hit the shelves of our book-shops in 2002.

In primary and high school Slovenian children have haiku lessons. There are two annual junior haiku contests being held in our country; the results of both are presented publicly at special events, and the prize-winning haiku appear in haiku publications.

A few articles on haiku and reviews of haiku books sometimes can be found in the main Slovenian newspapers. Some of our poets recite their haiku on the Radio Ljubljana programme called Literary Nocturne. In 2005, there was also a TV show about haiku poetry.

Most of the contemporary Slovenian haiku poets write free-form haiku, as opposed to 5-7-5 ones. Some of them publish their work not only nationally but also internationally, sometimes winning prizes or receiving accolades in international haiku contests. Slovenian language is arguably less suitable for haiku writing than some other European languages. Sometimes our poets have problems with the length of haiku, i.e. with the number of syllables, finding it difficult to keep their poems short.

Summing up, we should mention that in Slovenia haiku are regarded as a special genre of poetry. Some mainstream Slovenian authors write haiku as well or at least used to write them at some stages of their lives. Many people in our country still don’t take haiku seriously, but the situation is gradually changing for better.


Alenka Zorman is the President of the Haiku Club of Slovenia. She lives in Ljubljana. In 2010 she was involved in the so-called 'Hudnik controversy', which amounted to copyright infringement committed by the poet Marko Hudnik and Apokalipsa Publishing (more info in Shamrock No 16)





"Mountains" by Evgenija Jarc (Slovenia)





Haiku and Senryu



a slipping sky…
fieldfares gather
in the shadows of the hill


into catkins too the arriving warbler’s song


under redpolls alder rain


lapwings following starlings into the merse* wind


turning leaves the blackbirds of the lane


-- John Barlow (England)

*Merse (pronounced murs) is a common Scottish term for “salt marsh”, from the Old English “mersc”.



summer solstice
late in the afternoon
a crow's complaint

fogged-in mountain
from the unseen meadow
cow bells

a rainy day
the little bird interested in
the one dead branch


-- Bruce Ross (USA)



molten sun
the black meshes
of lime branches


hospital maze
I become number seven
on a pink plastic chair


city gusts
the last flaps
of a jilted umbrella


-- Ian Turner (England)



winter fog
my blind poodle
finds our way 

a dry leaf settles
in the pavement crack
stormy sky

billabong* –
crocodiles circling
the tourist boat


-- Cynthia Rowe (Australia)


* billabong (Austral.) = small lake



after rain
the sound of birds
tuning in


holding the winter sun
in its beak


searching for loose change
my hands
smelling of money


-- Ciarán Parkes (Ireland)



still water  -
ruins lost
in their reflection


at every turn Mount Errigal


rainbow -
seven flavours
of rain


-- Hugh O'Donnell (Ireland)




birthday party           
fireflies mingle
above the guests


smell of baking bread                     
the moth’s
powdery wings


-- Nathalie Buckland (Australia)



golden sunset...
the morning glories
still bright blue


city subway
alone with tap tap
of high heels


-- Dawn Bruce (Australia)



whistles through his teeth
winter moon


tea steeping
windows of rain


-- Philip Miller (USA)



cold night
beneath the covers
all of the cat


midnight wind
the whisper
of Victorian lace


-- Cathy Drinkwater Better (USA)



old dog lifts his leg
on the phone pole
not as high these days


spring in the air
the dog barks at it


-- Helen Ruggieri (USA)



after the storm,
skeleton of umbrella
atop a road sign


frosty morning
the tunnel of my breath
on a station platform


-- Sharon Burrell (Ireland)



willow canopy
a stream
thundering seaward


moonbeams   ocean dancing


-- Jean Tubridy (Ireland)



two washing baskets
reeds loosening
by a bridge


-- Noel King (Ireland)



summer pond -
within ripples


-- Gautam Nadkarni (India)



the sky's last star


-- Leonie Bingham (Australia)



passing train...
a dandelion unfettered
from its roots


-- Asim Khan (England)



splatter of rain
the shimmer of coins
in the carp pond


-- Robert Lucky (USA)



in the shadow
of a hedgerow, cicadas
swell with storm


-- Al Ortolani (USA)



old service bayonet -
is that blood?


-- J.D. Heskin (USA)



street beggar...
as I fumble for coins
he requests my credit card


-- Seshu Chamarti (India)



Barbados heat
the police station windows
wide open


-- Elizabeth Crocket (Canada)



it tries in vain
to get off the escalator -
a plastic cup


-- Luc Vanderhaeghen (Belgium)



mountain range
the hum
of a distant city


-- Joanna M. Weston (Canada)



lifeless rain
from the branches -
tiny leaves


-- Aju Mukhopadhyay (India)



gentle rain tapping
love songs


-- Marisa Fazio (Australia)



scent of dawn...
blossoms swooning
upon blossoms


-- Keith A. Simmonds (Trinidad and Tobago)



a snail...
morning begins
at my doorstep


-- Jacob Kobina Ayiah Mensah (Ghana)





Prize-winning Haiku from the Irish Haiku Society Competition 2008




The Irish Haiku Society is proud to announce the results of the second IHS International Haiku Competition. This year we saw a significant increase in the number of participating authors. 218 haiku by poets from thirteen countries (Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, France, Poland, Portugal and Romania) were submitted to this year’s competition. Many of the submitted poems were from the island of Ireland. This year’s competition was adjudicated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, and it was judged blindly. The following is the list of prize-winning and highly commended haiku.




1st Prize

 Mary O'Keeffe (Ireland) receives the first prize of € 150 for the following haiku:

November sunset
a galaxy of crows
quench the twilight


2nd Prize

The 2nd Prize of € 50 goes to Scott Mason (USA) for the following haiku:

  receding surf...
for every clamshell
a sandy wake


3rd Prize

John Barlow (UK) receives the third prize of € 30 for the following haiku:

 some in, some out
of the ebbing tide...
the morning oystercatchers


Highly Commended Haiku

In alphabetical order:


Ernest J. Berry (New Zealand)

September wind
a better view
of compost bins


Clare McCotter (Northern Ireland)

stooping on the edge
of autumn
purple river grass


Roland Packer (Canada)

country fair
cornsilk at the feet
of the hucksters


Cynthia Rowe (Australia)

spring equinox
two pines leaning
into each other


Andre Surridge (New Zealand)

end of a stalk
the caterpillar climbs
a ladder of air


Ian Turner (UK)

sun fringed clouds
a carrion crow struts
from sleeper to sleeper


 Andrena Yeats (UK)

horses stand in morning frost
one apart stares
at the space between


 Our congratulations go to all of the winners. We also express our sincere gratitude to the administrators of the competition, without whom… The Irish Haiku Society is planning to organise a free haiku workshop for the Irish entrants of the IHS competition, as well as for all the Irish haiku lovers who may wish to attend. Finally, plans are under way for next year’s contest. The IHS Haiku Competition now is an annual event, and next year we may also introduce a special prize, in addition to what we had to offer this year.





by Cathy Drinkwater Better (USA) 




Sometimes it’s almost too much: the mood swings, ever since early childhood. I never know quite what to expect. One day she’s up, the next she’s down. When she’s in that dark place there is no consoling her; when she’s not, all is right with the world. She doesn't believe in pills or therapies, so ’round and ’round and ’round we go, this grown child and I… a sort of “ring around the rosy” till we all fall down. But to change her would destroy the wellspring of inexhaustible creativity that is her. She is my flesh and my blood, and I will cherish her, just as she is, until the day I die. It’s just that sometimes…


                                        phone call
                                        the warmth of the sun
                                        in my daughter’s voice



Ufa City

by Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)




The squeaky train plunges into a fishbowl station. No way forward: the rail is buried in sand. Next to the station, another fishbowl, a market, but there is an outdoor bazaar as well, where smells compete with colours and sounds for your attention. Grilling shashlik sizzles over a live charcoal fire sending droplets of burning oil in all directions. The honey man sucks his golden fingers. These tradesmen sitting on empty polystyrene boxes, what new kind of Silk Road brought them here?


                                      rice dealers…
                                      white Styrofoam grains
                                      tumble in the wind







Book Reviews



A Thousand Reasons

Tanka by Pamela A. Babusci Empowering Writers to Self-PublishTM

Printed and Bound in Canada

April 2009
66 pp.
Available from the author




Pamela A. Babusci’s tanka selection has a strong title, A Thousand Reasons ( 2009). There are a thousand reasons you should read these, 120 of Pamela’s tankas written over the past 14 years.

In his Introduction, Tom Clausen writes: ‘Tanka comprises a long history of poets who have written highly charged poems focused on love, yearning, loss and isolation. Pamela A. Babusci writes in the tradition of Yosano Akiko, Ono No Komachi, Izumi Shikibu and Takuboku …’ He goes on to say that she takes risks in her work, ‘she does so fearlessly, and that aspect gives this collection a  strength and poignancy that is uncommon.’

It’s important to take risks. Otherwise tanka, especially in non-Japanese languages, can run the risk of being pastiche, hollow echoes of the true thing. Even noted Japanese writers of tanka, such as the above-mentioned Takuboku (1886-1912) took risks, moving from a one-line tanka to a three-liner, as in the following:


my wife today
behaves like a woman unleashed.
I gaze at a dahlia


I love that! Now let’s plunge into Pamela’s tanka. Great poetry opens up great spaces and this I like:


wiping off my lipstick
i tasted your mouth…
will you long for me tonight
when you are as distant
as the Milky Way?


This is the real thing, is it not? It has the mood, the atmosphere, the brevity, the aftertaste, the sadness. The simplicity of the diction is admirable and euphony is not sacrificed. The feminine touch throughout this book is exquisite, as in the beautiful title tanka:


a thousand reasons
to leave him
a thousand reasons
to stay …
withering bamboo


How could that be improved upon? Are they all as good as this? No. I would have dropped twenty or so tanka from this selection. Tanka must be flawless in conception and execution, otherwise one finds oneself skipping over statements that amount to nothing more than self-indulgence and navel-gazing. Happily, the best tanka here make one forget the less accomplished ones. One thing is sure, her searing honesty will bring many more readers into her fold:


the knife slips so easily
into the fresh mango
trying to remember
why I hate him
so much



Gabriel Rosenstock






Endless Small Waves: Haibun

By Bruce Ross

HMS Press, London, Ontario, Canada

Proof bound. 7" X 8 1/2.
102 pp.; ISBN 978-1-55253-070-2

Available from HMS Press, POB 340, Station B, London, Ontario, N6A 4W1Canada

or from the author at: 

Bruce Ross, PMB 127, 499 Broadway, Bangor, ME 04401, USA.



Bruce Ross, who authored four collections of his haiku, has had a number of poems published in Shamrock, and his work was reviewed in our No 8. This time he has had a collection of his haibun out; it contains 68 texts, the majority of which have not been published before. The glossy pale blue cover has an ink drawing by the author on it.


Haibun is a Japanese form of haiku poetry in combination with prosaic fragments. ‘Hai’ comes from the word ‘haikai’ and ‘bun’ means ‘writing’. This term can best describe the style and the tradition of Basho’s famous travel journals, Oku no Hosomichi, known to English-language readers as “The Narrow Road to the Deep North”. Traditionally haibun often relates to a journey, whether the travel is a physical exploration of a particular part of the world or work of imagination.


Some of Bruce Ross’s pieces have been written in travels inside and outside the United States, in such countries as Canada, Mexico, Peru and Japan. Apparently, a journey of a haibun writer means much more than just reaching the destination, but rather is a self-exploratory thing. In his travels, Brice Ross seeks answers to the questions he asks himself, even if he has never thought about the actual wording of these questions. ‘I had found my answer,’ he concludes his opening haibun, and the same avid quest for answers can be found in some other pieces, notably in the haibun about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


Bruce Ross uses a variety of story-telling techniques, which his potential reader will surely appreciate. He mainly narrates about the real people he met and the real places he visited. His narrative method can be described as traditional and recognisable, and it works well for him. The reader of Bruce Ross’s haiku prose will, of course, notice the strong imagery in these texts. ‘Black girder giant legs’, ‘a spider monkey staring down at us with anger’… But this is predictable. Less predictable is that such images don’t just serve for the decoration of the text: each of them becomes a part of a many-component mosaic, which is what Bruce Ross’s haibun really are.


Each of these pieces captures a moment in nature and a moment in time. If we look for an example of the author’s clear vision of the world as reflected in a Zen poet’s eyes, it is best revealed in the following haibun:



My first glimpse is down a narrow alley in the distance, towering black girder giant legs firmly on earth gleaming. Up close there are groups of simple stars incised on each of its four supports. But before that at a moderate distance on this cold clear day all that elevates and illuminates me in this city of imagination and possibility.


windy morning
clouds through the base
of the Eiffel Tower


Pieces like this clearly show the moment of enlightenment, or, if you prefer, a revelation of epiphany.


There is also an interesting piece on Edward Hopper, the painter. Bruce Ross quotes a fellow haijin who said the following about Hopper: “Anyone who likes haiku like Hopper”. Writing haiku prose about the world of artificial images is risky, however this particular piece has an unmistakeable ‘wabi-sabi’ atmosphere about it, and therefore is convincing.


Both in the quality of the texts and their topics, Bruce Ross’s haibun are powerful. With his perfect sense of timing, the economy of his narrative, as well as the ease and clarity of his haibun, he is deservedly regarded as one of the best masters of the genre, and this book will undoubtedly strengthen his reputation.


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