Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world

Shamrock No 15



Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society


IHS International Haiku Competition 2010 announced!

Category A (Irish and International)

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2010 offers prizes of Euro 150, Euro 50 and Euro 30 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English.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.

Category B (Irish)

The Irish Haiku Society International Haiku Competition 2010 offers prizes from Dóchas Ireland of Euro 100, Euro 30 and Euro 20 for unpublished haiku/senryu in English or in Irish Gaelic (with an English translation) about Ireland in the changing world. Besides being perfect haiku/senryu, the winning poems in this category may include reflections upon or references to "what it means to live in Ireland at the beginning of the 21st century". This category is only open for participants born or residing on the island of Ireland. In addition there will be up to three Highly Commended haiku/senryu in this category.

Details here:

All the entries shall be postmarked by 31th October 2010. No e-mail submissions, please!

Good luck to all!

Focus on



jumping across
-- Linnea Axelsson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

not a sound –
a fresh-tarred rowboat
devoured by night
-- Johan Bergstad (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


deep in the woods
an ice-cream van jingle
still audible
fly’s buzz
in Vivaldi’s Autumn
-- Iréne Carlsson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

night hasn't arrived
a song thrush starts afresh
at dawn
-- Sixten Eriksson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

stopping to listen
to the silence of snow
the moment
the sun goes down
a sail turns red
rusty padlock 
hanging on the unlocked 
crypt’s door

flag raised
spider on the cord lifted
to the top of the pole
-- Kai Falkman (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

strong wind
storks in the nest
standing on both legs
­-- Michael Fenlin (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

in the fog
where the circus was,
only smell left
-- Daniel Gahnertz (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

evening rain
I shut one eye
to see the moon

even the moon has fallen
into a puddle

-- Lars Granström

a ramshackle house 
rain fills the drainpipe 

falling in love,
astronomer starts looking
for Jupiter’s moons
still growing
among the ruins 
a healing herb
-- Lars Granström (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

this year’s first cuckoo
not a single word
in the news
­-- Karin Gustafsson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

snowfall in April 
a cardinal takes shelter
in the white forsythia
cicadas shrieking –
burning their last evening,
the fervent air
-- Dag Hammarskjöld (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

two women
at the construction workers

soccer field
to himself

in the fog
a cacophony of
bicycle bells

-- Jörgen Johansson


the prodigal son
calling on his father
with his son
counting clouds
in pond water
house for sale
a forgotten rake
among brown leaves
-- Jörgen Johansson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)


old well 
at least one frog 
among coins 

ruined house
with a dark past
traces of stone statues
bird’s nest
the tree has got
an eye!
-- Christer Nilsson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

snow –
choosing a new path
to my workplace
snow –
thirty-nine steps
to my letterbox
-- Magnus Oberg (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

sky-blue, almost unreal –
first anemone
in the winter-worn grass
-- Margareta Palmquist (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

at our summer house,
a horned owl’s shadow
on the blue patch of snow
-- Ola Sigvardsson (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

spring rain washing clean
the soft graves of snow –
a chaffinch whirrs
-- Solveig Ström (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

icicle hanging
from the street lamp –
a ray of light

-- Julia Sundblom (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

darkness and snow –
only the embossed froth
makes the sea visible
-- Tore Sverredal (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

up one street
and down another
a horseman
uprooted plants
a little coffin
-- Joar Tiberg (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

flying fish
too much salt
on the cabin window
-- Lars Vargö (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)
as soon as we realised
we lost our way –
a deer in the rain
-- Paul Wigelius (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)



The Sea that I see by Benny Ekman

The Sea That I See by Benny Ekman (Sweden)



A Swedish View On Haiku

by Kai Falkman


Swedish readers were first introduced to haiku in a book review published in the daily Svenska Dagbladet in 1933. It was a review of the book by Professor Asataro Miyamori titled "An Anthology of Haiku, Ancient and Modern". The reviewer described haiku as “the world´s shortest poem” and expressed doubt about the success of this metrical form among Swedish readers.
He was right. The first ever haiku in the Swedish language was written more than 25 years later by Dag Hammarskjöld, then Secretary-General of the United Nations. During the autumn of 1959 he wrote 110 haiku poems, all of which contained 17 syllables but didn't have any season words. Furthermore, while many of Dag Hammarskjöld's haiku poems were rather abstract and philosophical, most of them followed the Japanese tradition of being concrete and visual. Just one example:

in the castle´s shadow
the flowers closed
long before evening

Referring to his poems, Dag Hammarskjöld wrote the following words that reflect the spirit of haiku:
“Simplicity is to experience reality, not in relation to ourselves, but in its sacred independence. /.../ Resting in the centre of our being, we encounter a world where all things are at rest in the same way. Then a tree becomes a mystery, a cloud a revelation, each man a cosmos of whose riches we can catch only glimpses.”
This statement accords with the haiku tradition of presenting a thing or an event just as it is, without connecting it to ourselves. Needless to say that a haiku written by a poet is connected to him anyway. Any special effort to emphasise this connection is, in a sense, redundant.
Swedish haiku usually describe the author's experience not only with nature but also with human relations. We do not differentiate between haiku and senryu. Sometimes a poem has several layers of meaning. Thus a concrete image may bring to the reader's mind some abstract thoughts, depending on his imagination. However, abstract ideas directly expressed in haiku are more like intellectual constructions rather than sensory experiences related to the author's vision, hearing and the sense of smell, and therefore alien to pure haiku. As a rule, haiku strive to depict a real-life scene, sometimes demonstrate a certain occurance in nature, and occasionally have an unexpected ending or a lingering poetic atmosphere.

The Swedish haiku movement is gradually developing. In 1999, the Swedish Haiku Society was formed in order to bring together all haiku poets in Sweden, spread knowledge of haiku in our country and encourage Swedish poets to write in this particular genre. The Society now has about 150 members. Haiku are being written by many more Swedish people, including even schoolchildren. The best Swedish haiku poems appear in the Society´s quarterly, Haiku.

Kai Falkman is the current President of the Swedish Haiku Society



Swedish Harbour After Rain by Lars Vargö


Sydney Harbour After Rain by Lars Vargö (Sweden)


Inchicore Haiku - 25 Years After

by Mark Lonergan

Born in West Limerick, Michael Hartnett (1941-1999) was one of the most important Irish poets of the last half-century. He published dozens of volumes of poetry in both Irish and English. In 1975 he announced that he was writing only in Irish and that English was “the perfect language to sell pigs in”.

In 1985, however, Hartnett returned to the vernacular with a sustained sequence of 87 poems entitled Inchicore Haiku. Although the poems are labelled haiku, it is more correct to call them senryu. They are deeply personal, and encompass a broad range of themes. Harnett had been in a state of personal turmoil, his marriage had broken down, his father had just passed away, and he had returned to Dublin after attempting to live in rural Templeglantine in his native west Limerick. He was also drinking very heavily. Added to these physical effects, he was in artistic turmoil in that he was contemplating a linguistic U-turn from his previous intention to write only in Irish.

Hartnett was always something of an enthusiast and was always open to the exotic. At 21 years of age, while working as curator of the Joyce museum in Sandycove, he had attempted a translation of the fifth century Chinese poet Tao Yuan-ming. Through his life he translated Catullus, Heinrich Heine, Haicead, O' Raithaille, etc. The tight structure of haiku/senryu allowed him to juxtapose his own life and feeling with the urban landscape of Inchicore this gave him a route back to English. He chose to adhere to the 5-7-5 structure, which had been abandoned by most English-language haiku poets.

The scene is well set in the title page.


My English dam bursts

and out stroll all my bastards

Irish shakes its head

This piece encapsulates the poets return to English.

His present life in Inchicore is alluded to in the first page.

Now in Inchicore

my cigarette smoke rises

like lonesome pub talk

This paints the image of a lonesome man smoking in a pub while thinking after his wife and dead father.

His isolation and inability to engage in social intercourse is touché on in the following piece:

In the empty house

the doorbell calls "Company"

I hide on the stairs

Hartnett is particularly sardonic when address the question of the local clergy in Inchicore, Hartnett, while being deeply spiritual, was no fan of organised religion. There is a strong touch of William Blake in Hartnett's commentary on the religious.

In Saint Michael’s church

a plush Bishop in his frock 

confirms poverty


What do bishops take

when the price of bread goes up?

A vow of silence 

Unemployment and politicians are also commented on throughout his poems. This is still relevant 25 years after, as Ireland finds herself in the throes of another recession.

All the flats cry out

Is there life before Dole day?

The pawnshops snigger


Along Emmet Road

politician’s promises

blow like plastic bags

Even though most of the poems can be classed as senryu, there is a strong imagist strain in Inchicore Haiku. Hartnett was much influenced by Ezra Pound and the imagist movement. As Seamus Heaney points out, “It is also correct to say that there is a certain resemblance between vernacular Irish and the traditional way of looking at things. The poet’s duty is to be truthful and not be bounded in by abstractions of form. Japanese poetry, with its chastity and reticence, grows more attractive. It has closeness to common experience and sensitivity to the grieving nature of human experience.”

Of course, Michael Hartnett’s Inchicore Haiku can’t serve as a model for a modern-day haiku writer. Only one of these poems passes the time’s test and stands up as a perfect haiku, if a 5-7-5 English-language haiku can be perfect.

In a green spring field

a brown pony stands asleep

shod with daffodils

One could, in the words of Oscar Wilde, succumb to temptation and comment on all 87 Hartnett’s poems; however it is more apposite to touch more generally on the wider significance of his work. Inchicore Haiku was the first ever collection of haiku and senryu by an Irish poet, so Hartnett can be regarded as a trailblazer. In the following 25 years there has been significant interest in haiku in this country. The haiku form has since been embraced by quite a number of outstanding poets, and it is only right that we now celebrate Michael Hartnett’s legacy.



Haiku and Senryu

the field hares gilded
by evening sun…
quiet noises of the lane

the sun
just above the bluff
a scurry of lizards

exploring every nook along the way the first bee of spring

a last streak of light in the western clouds all of the mountains

-- John Barlow (England)

half moon
the whole clearing filled
with midnight mist
on the dirt
becoming dirt
a rotten log

wild geese
even walking in the field
they follow each other

-- Dave Moore (USA)

Hermes hotel -
petals blow into the bus
from wayside trees

cash point -
a dragonfly hovers
above my finger

half revealed
the morning moon

-- Diana Webb (England)

checking the puddle
for confirmation
summer rain

bathtime reading
ink spilt years ago

a week spent
surrounded by vineyards
at last – wine

-- Richard Turner (England)

empty bottles…
another drunkard
full of himself

sunlit slush
I take to church
an unforgiving hangover

at the end of vacation mouldy bread

-- Collin Barber (USA)

distant lamp-post
a star descends onto
the tallest tree

falling chestnuts
the thrush opens a shell on
her sandstone anvil

autumn dew
a flock of cobwebs lands
upon the furze-bush

-- Mary O’Keeffe (Ireland)

clearing sky                              
each lightning flicker
dims the moon

sudden gust                          
the driveway puddle

-- Natalie Buckland (Australia)

rain soaked stadium
after the pigeons fly off
seagulls move in

outhouse cleaning
the spider
re-spins her web

-- Cynthia Rowe (Australia)

bulging seedpod
an insect trail
around its skin

a harvester changes
the colour

-- Quendryth Young (Australia)

mandarin ducks
feather to feather...
autumn dusk

mid-autumn moon
lingering in my dream
the scent of mooncakes

-- Chen-ou Liu (Canada)

standing in darkness
at 3 am
wind chimes

beneath the ice
mountain brooks
urge forward

-- Scott Owens (USA)

lit up
on the blue beach
a deserted Ferris wheel

one bloom
the rotted walking cane

-- Gene Myers (USA)

surf sunset
sandpipers chase their shadows
from wave to wave

waiting for her
in the front yard
a maple’s long shadow

-- Jay Friedenberg (USA)

rising moon
a thrush's sudden silence
plunges dusk

communal bath
in the blocked guttering
a row of sparrows

-- Thomas Powell (Northern Ireland)

insects circle over
toffee popcorn –
a female singer

blackbird singing
in the chimney –
breakfast delayed

-- Breid Sibley (Ireland)

edge of dawn
a snow-plough takes away
my dream

-- Susan Constable (Canada)

hands and knees -
drunk, grovelling in gravel
for her contact lens
-- Richard Stevenson (Canada)

sand ridges...
dark shadows ripple
along the creek

-- Dawn Bruce (Australia)

cracking green buds
from the tree

-- Emmanuel Jakpa (Nigeria/Ireland)


Harmattan: a dry and dusty West-African wind

frozen puddle
boot print
on glazed autumn leaves

-- Lerys Byrnes (Australia)

cloudy night
frog croaks
the rain song

-- Priyanka Bhowmick (India)

the ceiling fan
stirs our silence
summer heat

-- Glenn G. Coats (USA)

heat lightning
the timpanist
skips a beat

-- Bouwe Brouwer (the Netherlands)

peat carpeted footsteps,
forest bluebells

-- Paul Dalton (Ireland)

a diving thrush
in freefall

-- Kate Richards (Ireland)

moon glow covering
the musty blanket
her pale shoulders

-- Lucas Stensland (USA)

at night
I open the door
darkness enters

-- Mel Goldberg (Mexico)


Translated Haiku

shorter days –
at home, freshly baked bread
on the hearth

by supper time
shadows get weaker –
Indian summer

Commemoration Day –
in a park, fog thickens
by the old reed pond

-- Horst Ludwig (Germany; translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

enraged by heat,
midges perform
a dance macabre

light shower
barely cools the heat…
bleating sheep

-- Jan Bontje (the Netherlands; transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

thin ice
on the garden pond –
a cat watching fish

children making
a sandcastle on the beach…
nearing rain

-- Arne Jerx (Denmark; transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

“Don't leave home without it,”
the advertising screams –
moon above platform

Receding into distance
jumpsuits of track workers – 
bullfinches on the branch

-- Ilya Krieger (Russia; translated by Alex Cigale)

Versions of the same poems by another translator:

“Take it with you,”
a poster bawls –
moon over the platform

in the distance,
railway workers’ overalls –
bullfinches on the bough

-- Ilya Krieger (Russia; translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)




by Jane Williams (Australia) 


3am, contemplative, I sit on the back step, close enough to see into the neighbour's one lit room. The parted curtains reveal a vase of fake gerberas, the handle bars of a wheelchair and a familiar print of two ducks in flight. When I begin to feel like a peeping tom I look away toward the more public spaces of road and street light. Now and then a taxi or semi trailer passes. A cat pads along the curb. I think about who else might be awake: nursing mothers, shift workers, new lovers. Between these public and private scenes my head is turned again and again until I am half dizzy with the wonder of all lives - the seemingly fixed and inanimate, the ones in full bloom.


moonlit door
my own shadow
coming home


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