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Haiku Journal of the Irish Haiku Society

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We are five years old! Founded in January 2007, Shamrock Haiku Journal has since been published quarterly. On this occasion, we have prepared SHAMROCK HAIKU JOURNAL: 2007 – 2011, a print edition of the twenty issues of Shamrock, the Journal of the Irish Haiku Society, as they appeared on the Shamrock website. This paper-based collection comprises works by 248 authors representing 38 countries. It covers the full range of English-language haiku, from classic to experimental styles, as well as haibun and selected essays on haiku.

The translated haiku that appeared regularly in Shamrock over the last five years are not included in this book, as we hope to arrange a separate publication for them.

Shamrock Anthology Cover

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Shamrock Haiku Journal: 2007 – 2011
Edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky.

Copyright © 2007 – 2011 by Shamrock Haiku Journal.

All rights reserved.

Published in Dublin, Ireland.

Printed in the United Kingdom.

Price €15.98
ISBN 978-1-4709-3830-7

Trade paperback. 240 pp.
6"x9", perfect binding.

Preview available here


Haiku & Senryu 

high noon –
a water tower returns
a silo’s glare

Basic Anatomy
worn and cracked
at the spine

to the shoe store
clearance sale with
the millipede

before me
and after,

-- Jeffrey Woodward (USA)

child by a tree
all the bells
on one branch

frosty morning
the long shadows

adult child –
his mother small
in a hospital bed

empty house
soft brown apples
under the tree

-- Patrick Gerard Burke (Ireland)

first bee
bathing its antennae
in a condensation pool

Monday blues –
the thrush stops to sing
between pecks

descending mist . . .
the Mournes unavailable
for photos

-- Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)

Jupiter’s moons
a hawk moth orbits
the gas lamp

record heat –
palm trees on the boulevard
shedding feathers

beach tryst
a fiddler crab waving
his big yellow claw

-- Lorin Ford (Australia)

carrying dawnlight
into the house
ginger tabby

red leaves
after the second wine
shadows come and go

my mother threading pearls
by the attic window

-- Vuong Pham (Australia)

summer heat
fireweed filling
the empty slough

temple bells after dark the smell of burning leaves

mountain mist all the silent windchimes

-- Patrick Pilarski (Canada)

morning rush hour –
an empty hearse
pins me to the kerb

school fete
butterfly cakes
harden in the sun

spring returns
a pale yellow poppy
leant against her window

-- Helen Buckingham (England)

March heatwave
a goose shakes its neck
to trumpet at the flock

buffeted links…
the thinnest sunbeams                          
drop onto fleabane

bucketing rain
the blackberry bushes                                       
sag with fruit

-- Matthew Paul (England)

dandelion clock
midday shadows
grow longer

overgrown brambles
magpie’s beak
stained purple

summer solstice birdsong late in the evening

-- Kara Craig (Ireland)

dawn departure
the roar
of a thousand pairs of wings

summer picnic
the sound of one bee

-- Tracy Davidson (England)

beside you
the darkness releases
a birdsong

slow snowfall
the sound of
her hair blower

-- Dietmar Tauchner (Austria)

evening traffic
one horn
sadder than the rest

teeth marks
in the dog’s leash
dry winds

-- Glenn G. Coats (USA)

on the roof trusses
in the old factory
owls waiting

the Battalion tailor
repairing the suits
nibbled by birds

-- Noel King (Ireland)

on the steps
of the Freedom Memorial,
a discarded snake skin

(First published on the Haiku International Association website, Japan)

wax museum
from behind Henry VIII

-- Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)

Bombay monsoon –
I stand knee deep
at a juice stall

monsoon –
my perfume drowned
by the smell of wet earth

-- R.J. Kalpana (India)

winding road –
pylon can’t decide
which side

-- Robert Davey (England)

humid day
empty cicada shell
on dry leaves

-- Raffael de Gruttola (USA)

darkening –
words we read
into river-sounds

-- Steven Carter (USA)

moon viewing
the drama
of passing clouds

-- Michael Ketcheck (USA)

zinc-white blurs —
pine branches spray-painted
with down

-- Craig Steele (USA)

old iron bed frame
the lover my pillows
gossip about

-- Ayaz Daryl Nielsen (USA)

dry creek bed
a dung beetle
swims in the dust

-- Alicia Hilton (USA)

inside dewdrops,
the only time I am
the size I feel

-- S.M. Abeles (USA)

I wait
for test results...
ice-blue sky

-- Dawn Bruce (Australia)

homeless man
a fog blankets     
the city

-- Gavin Austin (Australia)

after the fireworks   stars

-- Peter Macrow (Australia)

sunny day
a tree
on the fence

-- Elizabeth Crocket (Canada)

the neighbour's gas line
a brighter yellow

-- Vera Constantineau (Canada)

first of May –
a fingertip of moon
on the skylight

-- Hugh O’Donnell (Ireland)

budgie on the roof –
a caged one listens to
his song

-- Aisling White (Ireland)

mountain fog –
bleached sheep skull
on snow

-- Martin Vaughan (Ireland)

striated stone
a footpath fossil record
walking on ocean floor

-- Bee Smith (Ireland)

Tower Bridge –
running water
full of shadows

-- Tom Miniter (Ireland)

May morning
waxy magnolia petals
ready to open

-- Mary Gunn (Ireland)

buds on the hawthorn tree
erupt –
aroused nipples

-- Orla Fay (Ireland)

canal boats
wind-danced leaves
carry autumn colours

-- Thomas Chockley (USA)

a boy
making his imaginary dog
cross the bridge

-- Tzetzka Ilieva (Bulgaria/USA)

monsoon’s end
patches of emptiness
on the evening moon

-- Ramesh Anand (Malaysia)


over the white
wave crest,
early snow

-- Drago Štambuk (Croatia; translated from the Croatian by the author)

light breeze –
so gentle, it’s unclear
from where it’s blowing

in the embrasure
of a ruined castle,
the full moon’s face

through the empty
snail shell,
cold shivers

equator –
half a white whale’s corpse
on one side, half on the other

-- Drago Štambuk (Croatia; translated from the Croatian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

our kitty has died –
but tom-cats still come
to our door

battlefield –
dewdrops on the
wilting grass

-- Ivan Krotov (Russia; translated from the Russian by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)

Winter Birch by Sahoko Blake

"Winter Birch. Clonycavan, Co. Meath, Ireland" by Sahoko Blake (Ireland)






by John Zheng (USA)


                                                 after Arnold Newman’s picture


85-year-old Georges Rouault sank into a chair. The photographer, who loved the painter’s somber style, shot stills from different angles. Rouault sat like a still life, his eyes thinking. After a while, he uttered: “He’s photographed all around me. Does he want to photograph my derriere?”

sitting on the porch
with one leg on the other
this corn-shuck man


Catch of the Day


by Andrew Shattuck McBride (USA)

I see something in a fish ladder. I climb downslope and make my way to the waist-high concrete wall containing the pool. Trying not to get wet, I stand reaching out to grab it.

An older couple stops on the trail. They frown down at me and seem ready to scold.

Finally I can grasp it. “Yes!” I shout in triumph, and hold up my trophy so they can see.

fishing an empty
whiskey bottle from the creek
the couple left speechless

"Armadillo Basket" by Helen Buckingham
Published by Waterloo Press (Hove, UK) 2011
70pp, price £10

ISBN 978-1-9067742-37-9
Available from the publisher at

Helen Buckingham’s new volume of poetry is Armadillo Basket. Why the title, one wonders? The word “armadillo” comes from the Spanish meaning “little armoured one”. The haiku which contains this word is:
Dad’s shed
     sorting through the drill bits
    in the armadillo basket

Is the poet an armadillo and the drill bits her armoury? Does she speak from a stance that is slow-moving, well-protected but also somewhat exotic? Thus we sense both the domestic and the exotic in her poetry.

Onto the haiku and tanka from the opening section of the book “Green Light”.

Some haiku are instants which encapsulate change:

after school –
mastering mascara
to the rhythm of the bus

Memories of a girl awakening slowly to adulthood.

mud pack
watching her young face

The haiku act as multiple mirrors with the young girl and the adult woman working reflections upon themselves.

The haiku also act as little points of anecdote on the track of a relationship.
chill wind
the wedding tent
close to flight

Tanka and haiku flash by arrestingly in the second section “Summer is a hospital” as the poet now brings summer and all its rich glories into sharp focus and a fine ecstatic language emerges.

nectar drunk
bumble bees blunder
into the parasol

This is an exhilarating section.

There are also sections of mainstream poems in this collection; some of them display wit and an optimistic momentum, while some others have a touch of something bitter, but vigorously so – an effective contrast with the plump luxuriousness of the summer section.

Armadillo Basket is a rich collection of poetry by a poet at the height of her considerable powers. I recommend it.


Charles Thompson   


Clare McCotter. "Black Horse Running"
Alba Publishing, P O Box 266, Uxbridge, UB9 5NX, U.K.
78 pp.; ISBN 978-0-9551254-6-1
Available from the publisher.

Clare McCotter, a poet from Co. Derry in Northern Ireland, has built a good reputation having published her haiku, tanka and haibun in the leading haiku periodicals. However she hasn’t published an individual collection before, and so her first book was eagerly anticipated.

The genre is defined on the title page as “a collection of haiku, tanka and haibun” but in fact the book contains also a number of mainstream poems. According to the list of contents, the book has eight sections, although this division is not apparent when you are leafing through the book. The first section has 34 haiku, one tanka and two haibun. In the other sections haiku also alternate with tanka, haibun and mainstream poems. The title of the first section, “for judas”, is really the title of the haibun on page 9, even though the section starts on page 5. There are two haibun on pages 69 and 70, between haiku sequences; the list of contents places the first haibun in the seventh section, and the second in the eighth.

The composition of the book probably reflects the writing habits of the poet. Perhaps she works like that switching from haiku to tanka to haibun and the next day starts writing mainstream poems, only to return to haiku later. Still, I can’t help thinking that this book should probably have been better structured. I am all for complexity in poems but books should be easy to read. If a collection comprises several kinds of short-form poems, a reasonably good structuring is essential.

The poems in “Black Horse Running” are for the most part local to the area where the author lives, apart from a few pieces apparently referring to a trip to the Middle East. She really connects with nature in a very subtle way:

bronze chrysanthemums
father’s old stories
retold in late autumn sun

Clare McCotter is not stranger to seeing “the extraordinary in the ordinary.” E.g. in this one-line poem:

in his black hair the bones of old prayers

One would expect to find a few poems on horses in a book that has “horse” in the title, and the poet duly obliges. In fact, there’s a few of them grouped on pages 19 and 59.

bay horse entering
the clearing
entering the moon

hard frost
under a mare’s mane
her hands

There’s also an interesting haibun called “horse dream” in the book. “You stood sixteen hands in a night whose amethyst soul we crossed…” Impressive!

Of her tanka, I especially liked the following one:

old medical notes
call him imbecile
when he thinks no one
is looking he spreads
crumbs for the starlings

Clare McCotter worked as a nurse, and her medical awareness often shows in her poetic works. E.g. one of the sequences is about a certain condition, Alzheimer’s – and it is the least impressive part of the otherwise excellent collection.

black dog howling
in the night

Apart from the completely unnecessary end rhyme in the last two lines and the use of both “black dog” and “the night”, which combine to provide an excessive amount of blackness, the simple mentioning of “insight” fails to make the poem insightful but instead creates a perhaps unwanted comical  effect on the reader. Some other pieces in the same sequence are three-part haiku, or assemblages of suggestive or “promising” lines. Of course, a writer can easily shape them into an outline of a haiku but the question is if they are going to stick together. Because if they don’t, “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” won’t put them together again.

Generally, I would advise every haijin to exercise extreme caution when attempting to write a haiku sequence. I’ve seen plenty of those in various haiku publications, but not too many of them convinced me that that particular bunch of poems worked best as a set. In the successful ones, there was a pervading atmosphere of a location or an event in time unifying the included pieces. Even though I have published a couple of my own rensaku, I still believe that haiku work best as standalone poems.

Luckily enough, Clare McCotter’s collection has a lot of those to enjoy, and haiku lovers will surely appreciate the subtlety of her poems and attention to detail that has become the hallmark of Western haiku.

The book at its best:

evening star
a silver sapling
in the junkyard

low over rose waters a heron

crescent moon
behind cloud cover
the barmaid’s bruised eye

May meadow at dusk
red fox spancelled
to a frolicking shadow

I unreservedly recommend this collection to anyone who would like to sample the best of English-language short-form poems, or to anyone who has learned to appreciate their nuances.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky


Svetlana Marisova, Ted van Zutphen. “Be Still and Know”
Karakia Press
ISBN 978-0-473-20664-2
186 pp.
Available from Karakia Press at
Warning from Google: their website has been marked as dangerous and deceptive,
since Google Safe Browsing recently detected phishing on it.

This was the first book that came from Karakia Press, a print-on-demand edition powered by Createspace; a joint publication of the Russian-born New-Zealander Svetlana Marisova (1990 – 2011) and the Dutch-American poet Ted van Zutphen who compiled, edited and designed it.

Many books that come from print-on-demand publishing sites like Createspace or Lulu, despite sometimes great content, unfortunately look like amateur productions. This is the case with this publication. List of contents is missing; moreover, there are no page numbers. This makes the book extremely difficult to navigate. The cover design also looks amateurish, with one of the poets’ names at the top and the other near the bottom…

I do understand that sometimes bringing out a print-on-demand edition is the last resort and some books wouldn’t otherwise have come out but the bottom line is, publish if you must but at least make sure that all the necessary design features are there.

Having finished the scrupulous analysis of the contents which, in the absence of page numbers and other landmarks, took me a considerable amount of time and pencil work, I can reveal that the book has six sections. Remembering that it comprises works by two poets, I first tried to find out who wrote what. A quote from the “Foreword” by Ted van Zutphen gave me some help with it: “In the first three chapters you’ll find Svetlana’s poems on the left pages and mine on the right, with un-noted exceptions in some sequences near the end of the third chapter. The fourth chapter is all Svetlana’s, and the fifth chapter is all my work. In the final chapter I have deviated from all identifying distinctions made to let our story flow. (?? – A.K.) By then I expect the reader will be thoroughly familiar with our different styles that it doesn’t matter anyway.” We really like this kind of guessing game the editor wants us to play, don’t we?

And the fact is, two of Svetlana Marisova’s best haiku are buried in the last, “unidentified” section:

floating downstream –
the burden of my shadow
on a mayfly

crashing waves –
almost believing
it’s forever

Again, it took me quite some time to conduct a web research and attribute these haiku.

To be honest, I always feel uneasy about reviewing the book of a recently deceased poet, as the general rule is, de mortuis nihil nisi bonum (of the dead, nothing unless good.) Actually, I wouldn’t be able to say a bad word about Svetlana Marisova’s work anyway, as the majority of her poems display a very high standard of haiku writing.

This is unusual for somebody whose creative period only lasted for about five years. Svetlana Marisova was a Russian-born Roman Catholic (I never met one in the course of the long 45 years that I spent in that country but who knows, they may still be somewhere there) who lived in New Zealand from 2004. Her English was very satisfying, even though her mother tongue was Russian. One can see that she was a quick learner: she only started writing haiku a few years prior to her untimely death, and she had good mentors/advisors. Robert D. Wilson was among them, and he also wrote a preface for this book.

Marisova’s best haiku are exceptionally good, and one can only guess what heights she could have reached if she lived longer… I would describe her as a New Zealand poet, even though she occasionally used the images stuck in her memory since her earlier life in Russia. E.g. in the following poem:

Lake Baikal –
the hidden depths
of his eyes

Many more poems, though, reflect the realities – and sometimes peculiarities – of New Zealand’s nature:

in a tuatara’s eye
primeval light

She often uses juxtaposition of images, perhaps more often than an average English-language haijin:

autumn mist
first grey then gold… (I would prefer to see “golden” instead of “gold” - A.K.)
morning fire

Marisova is a master of understatement. To that extent that it sometimes isn’t clear what she is trying to say in her poems.

icy moon
all over the valley

My first thought was that I, like Sherlock Holmes, don’t fancy taking a guess where I don’t have enough information. But then I thought about all the haiku where the authors diligently put all the dots above “i’s”…

Sometimes Marisova wrote “religious” haiku, and they are not among her best:

Jesus beads
anchoring me
to each breath

Her forte was creating visionary poems, like these:

name day…
the smoothness
of a white stone

rose petals –
the ceremony
of blood

I look forward to seeing Marisova’s individual collection published some day, with all the available poems included and arranged in the chronological order. Naturally, such a book should be rid of that “guess who wrote it” element.

Now to Ted van Zutphen’s haiku. These are the ones I liked best:

this snail
taking his shell…

winter dawn –
the crackling of ice
on the old pond

early spring…
feeding my hungry nose
a hyacinth

The poet commonly uses the shasei technique of haiku writing. Some of his pieces, however, are not much more than “so what” haiku. E.g. these:

fresh snow
yesterday’s tracks


turning over
another leaf –
paper cut


two clouds
in a blue sky…

Another gives an interesting example of personification, much disputed now, as ever:

winter silence
a squirrel scampers,
stops… and prays

Personification here adds a comical aspect to the poem, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

One more haiku with Christian overtones from van Zutphen:

snow drifts –
an angel spreads
her wings

Nipping in the bud any doubts about the merits of this haiku I might have had, I was still a bit surprised to see an angel referred to as a “she”. If my memory serves me right, angels in the Old Testament are called bene elohim, which literally means “sons of God” (and the same phrase found its way to the Greek translations of the Hebrew scriptures), whereas female angels are only mentioned in the Book of Mormon!

Talking about Christian haiku in general, I must confess that I am currently conducting a logic experiment testing the thesis that, if I put it with Orwellian directness and simplicity, will look like this: the more Christian a haiku is, the less convincing I find it. In Ireland, two poets, Dermot O’Brien and Sean Brophy, came up with four collections of their Christian haiku between them – and succeeded in making their books unmistakably Christian but failed miserably with the haiku aspect. Of course, I keep an open mind, and I realise that my thesis can be disproved any moment but this still hasn’t happened!

Also included in the book are tanka, haibun and haiga by both contributors.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky

“Niotkud / From Nowhere”. Selected haiku by Drago Ṥtambuk.
Trilingual Croatian / English / Japanese
Ed. and transl. by Shokan T. Kondo.
Tokyo, Ribun Publishing, May 2011.
128 pp.
Available from Ribun Publishing, tel. 03-3352-7322.

Tomislav Maretić. “Leptir nad pučinom sitnopjesni / Butterfly over the Open Sea”: haiku.
HKLD Publishing
Zagreb, 2011
ISBN 978-953-55125-2-3
144 pp.
Available from HKLD Publishing at


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

Anatoly Kudryavitsky. Capering Moons. DOGHOUSE Books, 2011. 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

 Copyright © by Shamrock Haiku Journal. All rights reserved. All the Shamrock Haiku Journal contents are copyright by the indicated poets/artists. All the rights revert to the authors and artists upon publication in Shamrock. Any unauthorised copying of the contents of Shamrock Haiku Journal is strictly forbidden. The Shamrock logo image is copyright © by Christine Zeytounian-Belous (Paris, France). 
Copyright 2012 Shamrock Haiku Journal