Shamrock Haiku Journal

Haiku from Ireland and the rest of the world

Issue 7




Haiku Journal

of the Irish Haiku Society

Focus on




old man -
his horse ploughing the last rut
and his shadow


-- Zoran Antonić (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





through an open door
into the ambulance,

a yellow leaf



scent of the sea -
so small the shell
in my suitcase



country feast -
between two songs,
a cricket’s story

-- Rajna Begović
(transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)




dewdrops gleaming
on chestnut buds -
not on each of them

-- Rajna Begović (translated by the author)





mulberry leaf
picked up by the wind -
a kitten plays with it



hand in hand,
a boy and a girl walk
through the field of wheat



a cock on the windowsill
viewing hens
in the neighbour’s yard



one after another:
a procession of ants…
a hare jumps over it



boy’s tight fist
has captured light -
a firefly

-- Dejan Bogojević (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





an owl’s feather
on the old stump
absorbing moonlight

-- Branislav Brzaković (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





a mountain passing to another
the blue flower -

redness in her cheeks…
girl eating a frozen apple
this winter day

flickering flame…
on the opposite wall,
shadow of the hearth

-- Tatjana Debeljacki (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





abandoned house
a door wreath
still there



virgin snow…
a pine surrounded by
green grass



icy wind -
a bare lime-tree branch
scratches on the window


-- Ljiljana Djuric (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





close of the day -
a naughty boy

gathers glow-worms


-- Ivan Kolarić (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





shirt hanging from a birch branch -
the owner sits
in its shade



in an empty
firefly glow



snow shaken off the tree -
the bent branch

goes up again


­-- Dusan Mijajlović Adski (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





clearing in the woods -
the full moon highlights
a cemetery



taking a walk -
among rooftop antennas,
the newborn moon

-- Vitomir Miletić-Witata (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





November morning -
travelling on the motorway,
wisps of fog



falling snow -
a child draws the horizon

on the windowpane



from door to door -
the postman carrying letters
and first snowflakes



cloudless sky -
in the field, the wind shaking
an old scarecrow

-- Jasminka Nadaškić-Djordjević (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





underneath the moon
only these willow leaves -

each one shining

-- Aleksandar Nejgebauer (translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





destroyed bridge -
only the rainbow connects
the banks of a river

mist clears away -
in the spider's web,
a string of pearls

--  Aleksandar Ševo (transl. by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)




snow up to my knees…
where’s the path that
has brought me here?



a blackbird has perched
on the branch
hey angler, take a look!



gathering cigarette buts
a profusion of roses



city lights
a firefly pauses at the edge
of the forest



blooming season
a huge stump on the riverbank

-- Tanja Stefanović (translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





wading through the silence
of hospital lobbies
full moon



reaper swings his arm -
a cloud of petals from
ripe cornflowers



view from the terrace
a hilltop hut sinks
into the shade



train roaring by
the utter silence

of military graves

-- Saša Vašić (transl. by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)





clouds’ reflections
drawing a shadowy landscape
on the stream bottom



abandoned house
giant snowflakes fall
into the chimney



the wind carrying
children’s kites
and wild geese



cherry petal
falling through the shadows

of grass blades

--Vid Vukasović (translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky)



Haiku in Serbia

Saša Važić

The history of haiku in our region, i.e. in former Yugoslavia, began almost eighty years ago. In 1927, Milos Crnjanski published his article titled “Pesme starog Japana” (“Poems of Ancient Japan”), which contained not only his translations of classical haiku (mostly from English and French) but also some information on the history of the haiku movement. Published in the Serbian magazine called “Letopis Matice srpske”, this was the first ever publication on haiku in our country.


However this poetic genre really took off in Serbia only about thirty-five years ago. The pioneering work of the first ever Serbian haijun, Milan Tokin (1909-1962), was a collection of haiku poems entitled "Godisnja doba" ("Seasons"). Strangely enough, this book hasn’t yet been published in full.


At that time our understanding of haiku was enriched by the work of one of the most educated haiku poets, Vladimir Devidé of Croatia. He was a mathematician, academic and Japanologist. His opinions have often been challenged, however his contribution to the haiku development in the Balkans is undisputable. Vladimir Devidé has published over 150 essays on haiku poetry in some 20 national and international literary reviews and journals, and has given over 220 public lectures on poetry, as well as on the history of Japanese culture and, more specifically, literature. His anthology of haiku poems published in 1970 as “Japanska poezija i njen kulturno-povjesni okvir” (“Japanese Poetry in its Cultural and Historical Framework”) contains some 500 haiku poems by 100 Japanese poets in his translation into Croatian. This book, which still remains a valuable haiku textbook, introduced many generations of our poets to Japanese culture and spiritual life, as well as to the history of haiku.


In 1975 Aleksandar Nejgebauer (1930–1989), a translator, literary critic and Professor of English and American literature, published the first ever collection of haiku poetry in the Balkans. It was titled simply Haiku. His essay, "Metaphor in Haiku," was the first Serbian essay on haiku to be translated into English and published outside Serbia. It appeared in Frogpond in May 1980. The first haiku magazine that published a selection of haiku poems from Yugoslavia was Haiku, a Varazdin-based edition that existed between 1977 and 1981. In 1979, a certain Japanese scholar, Dr. Dejan Razic, published two important essays on traditional Japanese poetry: one on the development of haikai poetry from the very beginning to the times of Basho, and another on Basho himself, focusing on his role as a haikai poet.


The growing popularity of haiku in our country resulted in the establishment of haiku clubs and haiku magazines. The first Serbian haiku magazine, Paun, was launched in Pozega in 1988. It still exists under the editorship of Milijan Despotovic). The club called “Masaoka Shiki” existed in Nis in 1992–1993, and published its magazine titled “Haiku novine” in 1993, at first edited by Dimitar Anakiev, and then, from 1996 on, by Dragan J. Ristic. The club called “Shiki” appeared in Belgrade in 1992, with the most famous Serbian female poet, Desanka Maksimovic, as its honorary president. In Novi Sad, Aleksandar Nejgebauer edited the magazine called Listak in 1993. “Haiku Informator” existed between 1997 and 2002; “Haiku ogledalo”, between 2000 and 2002. There were also other privately owned haiku journals: “Haiku pismo”, edited by Nebojsa Simin in Novi Sad (1995–2001); “Haiku Moment”, also in Novi Sad, edited by Zoran Doderovic in 1998, re-launched in 2002 as “Haiku Moment Info”; Lotos, edited by Dejan Bogojevic and Rajkovic, since 1998 up to date, The Rainbow Petal, an online haiku journal edited by Vid Vukasovic, Belgrade existed between 1997 and 1999, “Haiku Reality” edited by Sasa Vazic; “Batajnica”, started in 2003, and a few more publications, all in all nineteen of them.


The national haiku association called The Haiku Association of Yugoslavia (now called The Haiku Association Serbia and Montenegro), has been founded in Belgrade in 1999. In 2001 it has started to publish a haiku magazine titled Osvit.


According to the statistics, there are about six hundred haiku poets in our country; they have published more than five hundred titles. Haiku from Serbian haiku contests held in about seven Serbian cities and towns were collected in about forty anthologies. Among these contests, the Yugoslavian Haiku Festival and International Haiku Contest, in Odzaci (held since accordingly 1987 and 1989); the Knjizevna kelija "Sveti Sava" Competition in Paracin that was held between 1994 and 1998; the International Haiku and Haibun Contest organised by the Aleksandar Nejgebauer Haiku Club in Novi Sad in 1998 (and still running), and also the International Haiku and Senryu Contest held by the Lotos Haiku Magazine (which has been published in Valjevo since 1999).


The first (exclusively) haiku publishing library entitled Matsuo Basho was established in Odzaci in 1986. This event marked a new splash of interest in haiku. In 1988 a new haiku library was founded in Odzaci. It was also named after Basho. Later (1993) it was transferred to another Serbian town, Kula.


The first Yugoslav haiku anthology titled Leptir na caju (1991) was compiled and edited by Milijan Despotovic. Another Yugoslavian anthology, Grana koja mase, that represented works of around 400 authors had the same editor and was published the same year. We should also mention KNOTS (1999), the anthology of south-eastern European haiku poetry edited by Dimitar Anakiev of Slovenia and Jim Kacian. A Piece of the Sky (Haiku from the Shelter, 1999) was another anthology edited by Dimitar Anakiev.  Nebojsa Simin edited The Third Bank of the River / Treca obala reke (2000), an anthology of Serbian haiku translated into English, French and German, and also Haiku nestasna pesma (Haiku a Playful Poem, 2000). The latest anthology of haiku from our region was Iznad praznine (2002) edited by Dejan Bogojevic. There were also many translations of Japanese haiku into our language published in a book-form.


Haiku gained popularity among Serbian people of several generations, who all had different education levels and occupations. Some mainstream poets are known to write haiku, notably Desanka Maksimovic, Dobrica Eric, Momcilo Tesic, Miroljub Todorovic, Slobodan Pavicevic, Mirjana Bozin. Serbian haiku poets win on average about forty awards and commendations at national and international haiku contests per year. Not all of these competitions are professionally judged which, of course, casts the shade of doubt on the merits of some of our haijin. The editors of our haiku journals have developed very different tastes and elaborated different criteria of judging haiku. Many of our authors pay for the publication of their books, sometimes not even obtaining a catalogue number for them. These books never hit the shelves of our bookshops but are often used as gift items. The quality of their works is also very different. Many of them even translate themselves into English – sometimes not having mastered the language. Time and again these texts are being submitted to international English-language competitions, which can only damage the reputation of our haiku movement. Unfortunately, we don’t have official haiku workshops that run periodically. Nor do we have critics who are ready to write about haiku happenings, so our haiku poets are often deprived of seeing their work reviewed. Apart from that, we seem to be moving forward on the path of haiku discoveries.


(translated to English by the author and Anatoly Kudryavitsky)



Saša Važić is the editor of Haiku Reality (


"Predeo" by Slobodan VItković (Serbia)


Haiku & Senryu

Among other poems, we feature here some haiku written during the ginko (haiku walk) organised by the Irish Haiku Society. It took place in the Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, Dublin, on 28 June 2008. Of course, not all of the Irish haijin were present; so far as we know, some of them were enjoying a warmer climate than this. E.g. Siofra O'Donovan sent us a bunch of haiku from India.

tinder sticks
a last streak of green
in the aspen’s leaf



wind-twisted leaves
the silent flit
of a lesser whitethroat



the lizard pauses



still shadows
the cow's neck bent
into its flank



honey country…
a tortoise makes its way
across the road

-- John Barlow (England)





the shallows
a coot and its chick
ease into water



among the rain-washed pebbles
channel light



evening murmurs
through the yellowing grass
pairs of antlers



long shadows
a wagtail undulates
over the outfield

-- Matthew Paul (England)





whale song
the twilight blues



cotton sheets
the sound of the sea
folding, refolding



esplanade palms
the chihuahua's master
walking tall



new in town
a thousand butterflies
without names

-- Lorin Ford (Australia)





cloudy day
the green of water
and the green of trees



old willow
a thousand branches holding
the spring wind

chilly morning
patches of fog pause
in thistles

heat lightning
a sunflower
kissing the sun

-- Anatoly Kudryavitsky (Ireland)





flattened grass –
white lilies stand taller
in the rain



too wet for birdsong –
canary yellow beet leaves
glisten in the rain



sunburst –
scent of wild garlic
fills the garden



rain-drenched lawn
a spate of water lilies
carpet the pond

-- Martin Vaughan (Ireland)





September sunset –
fiery fuchsia nestles
in hedgerows

warm rain –
lily pads surrendering
to watery graves


a canopy of
gnarled wisteria –
grey refracted light

heatwave –
two lighthouses exchange
hazy flashes

-- Sharon Burrell (Ireland)





footsteps shuffling
outside the temple doors
new moon



carrying my baby
through the pine trees
a monkey watches



water rushing
through the paddy fields
morning soup



Golden Maitreya
hands resting on his knees
rupees at his feet

-- Siofra O’Donovan (Ireland)





first snow
the garden Buddha



late afternoon
a fading photograph of sky
on the tin roof



troubled sleep
the half of the moon
I couldn't see

-- John W. Sexton (Ireland)


her tapping foot
follows the song



a sliver of moonlight
beneath a branch

-- Cynthia Rowe (Australia)





heat haze –
dragonflies silhouette
the sky



above the circus tent,

-- Juliet Wilson (Scotland)

New Year's Day
sunlight and honey
in a jar

her hands
working with flour

the cloudless sky

-- Hugh O’Donnell (Ireland)

granddad's garden
the rosebush blossoms

midnight stroll
a gust of leaves
throws shadows

-- Terry O’Connor (Ireland)





chilly morning –
a scarecrow leaning
towards the greenhouse

in the regal flowerbed –
taking a nap

-- Andrew Michael O'Brien (Ireland)




between races
boy-rowers chasing frogs
in the tall grass

-- Eileen Sheehan (Ireland)




at my front door
nothing between me
and the full moon

-- Mark Roper (Ireland)





avenues of trees
growing longer
after the summer rain

-- Breid Sibley (





singing for a mate
soon to die

-- Maureen Purcell (





daybreak –
daisies peeping
through wet grass

-- Anne Morgan (Ireland)





termite mound…
the camper van
in its shadow

-- Allison Millcock (Australia)





our first picnic
jacarandas moult
into the iced tea

-- Scott Thouard (Australia)





backhoe berm –
ant pauses before pieces of
broken pottery

-- Richard Stevenson (Canada)





soft gum
under the desks –
first day back

-- Noel Sloboda (USA)





a monkey tearing
clothes from the line
monsoon drought

-- Michael Morical (
USA - Taiwan)





rain again
the season of
verdant mountains

­-- Gillena Cox (Trinidad & Tobago)





entrance gate
off its hinges

-- Jared Carter (USA)





the gleam
of roof after roof
summer rain

-- Dawn Bruce (Australia)





by Diana Webb (England)


She glances at books of poems but spends the money instead on thread and a choice of loose beads in sea-green, rose and amber. Perhaps it's the nymph's claim about her jewels picked up from childhood verse speaking classes that haunts her - 'Hush. I stole them out of the moon.'
As the small glass spheres slip one by one along the needle into the growing necklace, her reflections drift from bygone generations through parting with a lover to embryos in formation. A tranquillity, each moment hovers.

cobweb strung with mist
across stems of lavender –
span of light years



Book Reviews

Basho: The Complete Haiku
Edited & translated by Jane Reichhold.
Kodansha International, 2008
ISBN 978-4-7700-3063-4, 432 pp
Available via


After ten years in the making, it is finally out, the first-ever complete edition of Basho’s haiku translated to English by the prominent American poet Jane Reichhold (whose own collection of haiku was reviewed in Shamrock No 6). “The haiku saint” Basho wrote one thousand and twelve hokku, and all of them can be found in this book, together with detailed notes on each of them and the English transcription of the Japanese originals. Perhaps Basho’s haiku will from now on be cited by Reichhold's numeration system (at least, in the English-speaking countries), as it happened with Johnson’s numeration of Emily Dickinson’s poems.

In the Introduction, Jane Reichhold gives us an insight into Basho’s poetic background, as well as into his religious life as a practicing Buddhist, and into his impact on poetry. She states that poetry was the great master’s way of life, and calls him “genius with words”.

In the main part of the book, Jane Reichhold divides Basho’s creative life into seven periods and gives biographical information for each period, as well as accounts of the poet’s travels. The poems written over the first period (1662 – 1774) are referred to as “early poems”. The second period (1675 – 1679) addresses Basho’s work as “the professional poet”. Third period (1680 – 1683) is described as “A retreat to nature – a religious life” of Basho; the fourth (1684 – 1688), “Basho’s journey in the way of the poet”; the fifth (1689), “Basho’s journey to the interior”, which includes poems written during the poet’s journey to the Far North, i.e. to the northern provinces of Japan. Two last periods of Basho’s life are described as “At the Peak and Still Travelling” (1690 – 1691) and “Basho Finds the Secret of Greatness in Poetry and Life” (1692 – 1694).

In her short introductions to each period, Jane Reichhold reveals creative influences on Basho, as well as the way Basho’s works, in their turn, influenced his contemporaries. Her translations are always convincing, and stand up as excellent English-language haiku. She always uses common language, as did Basho himself, and it always adds to the quality of her translations:


this night has no time to sleep
moon viewing


- or this one, which Harald Henderson once called “the most discussed haiku in the language”:



summer grass
the only remains of soldiers’



We liked the economy of most of these translations. The only thing a haiku purist could wish for is that the translator would have taken a further step on the thorny path of eliminating all the forms of the verb “to be” from haiku; e.g. from these:


the beach at Suma
New Year’s preparations are
a bundle of brushwood




life of a priest
my name is swept away
in the River of Fallen Leaves


Still, worshipers of haiku brevity will find in this book a lot to admire:


their color
whiter than peaches
a narcissus




bush warbler
has dropped his hat


In the Appendices, Jane Reichhold offers a comprehensive discussion of Basho’s writing techniques, thus expanding and commenting on the material previously published in her well-known manual titled “Writing and Enjoying Haiku”. Other Appendices include glossary of literary terms, selected chronology of Basho’s life, and bibliography. The book has beautiful illustrations: original sumi-e art by renowned Japanese artist Tsujimura. We would describe the book as a Basho encyclopaedia, as we have no doubts that haiku scholars will refer to it again and again. Moreover, it is a wonderful gift to all the lovers of haiku, let alone haiku poets.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky


"a wattle seedpod"
Haiku by Lorin Ford.
Post Pressed, 2008

ISBN 978-1921214-34-9, 36pp
Available via

The information page in this book of haiku by Lorin Ford states that “this book is proudly published and produced in Australia”, and this sentence sets the tone for a work that is suffused with descriptions of the flora and fauna of that nation. This is evident from the opening haiku (incidentally, first published in Shamrock No 3):

first light –
eye to dreaming eye
with a kookaburra

and continues throughout the book, with the author bringing us on a journey of the exotic: with images of mynah birds, cicadas and lorikeets. But the book does not need descriptions of the exotic to create interesting and illuminating haiku, as this author has the power to elucidate even the most banal and bring an image to life.

Lorin Ford produces work that manages to be both humorous and personal. The simplicity with which she achieves this is evident in the haiku such as:

a leaf crosses out
the I in his name


low tide
bits and pieces of her
wedding china

Her “cicada” haiku exhibits the sweet sadness of wabi-sabi:


cicada husk...
also clinging
to a straw

This seems to be an allusion to Basho's "cricket" haiku:

hung on a nail
a cricket

(translation: Jane Reichhold)

In this poem Lorin Ford explores the hidden depths of everyday things, which is one of the elements that contribute to its unique sound. As it happens, many haiku poems focus on the impermanence of existence or on the pain of loss but not too many authors actually remember that existence itself can be quite painful.

The author lives in Brunswick, Victoria and has had over three hundred of her haiku published in Australia and overseas. In this book, her first collection of haiku, she has produced some beautiful, evocative images, which nod to the ebb and flow of the seasons of the natural and human worlds. We can describe it as one of the best Australian haiku offerings of recent years.

Sharon Burrell