Hello and welcome to series 3 episode 9 of the haiku pea podcast. I’m Patricia and I regularly put together and host this podcast but today,  I am joined by Hifsa Ashraf, all the way from Pakistan, who is going to give us a reading of three of her monoku, along with a commentary about her thought process. Sadly, by the time you listen to this it will be too late for you to become inspired by her work and to submit to the haiku pea podcast monoku episode, which comes out on the 18th of May, but if she inspires you to try your hand at writing monoku I’m sure we’ll both be delighted.

Of course that’s not all I have for you this week. I want to start looking at the feedback that I’ve had on the last few podcasts in which I’ve been talking about the essence or the heart of haiku. I’m not going to get through it all today, so perhaps I’ll do a few feedback podcasts throughout the year so I can address not only the feedback from those podcasts but maybe from future podcasts, so keep the feedback coming. You know how I enjoy getting your feedback whether you agree with me or not.

And of course I want to keep you up-to-date with our progress on the renku. Thanks to the hard work and genius of some of our fellow poets I have a few more verses to offer you. If you’d like to join in with the renku let me know, there’s always room for other poets.

Last and definitely not least, BIG NEWS…, finally the first edition of the Poetrypea journal is out and available on Amazon.

As I said, I’ve had quite a bit of feedback on the essence sequence of podcasts. The main areas of feedback seem to be rules and form, the a-ha moment, and imagery. Today I’d like to talk just a little bit about rules and form.

Shane wrote to me about something that I find extremely annoying. He expressed it in terms of lumpers and splitters. Lumpers are people “who lump things together despite seeming differences,” and splitters, “people who split groups of reasonable “sameness” based on sometimes trivial features.”

He used Twitter as an example, but he could’ve used any social media platform Facebook or Instagram for example where as he says “you find all sorts of three lined (or less) poems that are, by even the most liberal definitions not haiku, nor senryu.” lumped together. I know what he means; these poems, for haiku they are not, don’t adhere to any of the basic principles of haiku nor have they the subtle nuances of the craft. For example, they don’t have a seasonal word, no cut and the phrasing will be all over the place. When I read them purporting to be haiku, I try and take a deep breath and channel my inner Mark Gilbert who once advised me to basically, chill. My words, not his. But it’s very, very hard.

I’m not going to quote any examples of the non-haiku, because that would be grossly unfair. As I said in a previous haiku pea podcast I think some of the blame has to be laid on the doorstep of our education systems. Did I tell you that I bumped into one of my daughter’s teachers at the shops? We had a long chat and I asked him why, when he was teaching my daughter about haiku, and through her me, he’d only concentrated on the 17 syllable, 5/7/5 form. To which he replied “because that’s what all the teaching manuals tell you. Anything I’ve ever read about haiku has told me that those are the rules. I don’t know any different.” I expect that he is not the only teacher who has not explored haiku.

How do you feel when you trawl through social media and come upon the non-haiku? Are you happy to be a “lumper” and leave them in there under the heading haiku or are you a “splitter” who wants to shout “No, no, no, no, no, micropoem you might be, but haiku thou are not not!”

Well I’m glad I got that off my chest. Thank you Shane for giving me the opening to have a little bit of a rant, much appreciated.

Now I mentioned Mark Gilbert. Whenever I’m having that internal rant I always think of him and wonder “What would Mark say?” I wasn’t disappointed because of course, he did send me some feedback. In his feedback he briefly covered the topic that I’ve just been talking about but he also gave me some feedback about my interpretation of Basho’s summer grasses haiku. I think I’ll come back to the latter feedback in a later podcast because it’s quite complicated, raises quite a few other issues we can all start thinking about and as well as Mark, a number of you wanted to discuss further the idea of the moment, imagery and interpretation. So we will.

Wayne Kinston suggests a forum or a survey. Wayne, if I can figure out how to create a survey and some relevant questions I will send it to those of you on the mailing list. If you’d like to be on the list you can sign up on the poetrypea website.

So to return to the idea of lumpers and splitters, rules and form. Should there be rules or not? Do rules help or hinder creativity? Mark suggests, if I read him right, that rules could be helpful, not just to create, but also to push against and evolve the genre. He uses the example of a sonnet. And says “If I decide to write a sonnet, for example, I can look up what a sonnet is, the history and variations of the form, see examples and the ways that people have pushed the rules in many directions and continue to do so. I don’t have to worry about what subject matter to choose, or what sorts of words it should or shouldn’t use.” Mark suggests that this leads to a more diverse sonnet community, if such a thing exists. If you’re interested, I found an article which does describe the evolution of a sonnet. There have been a number of variations through the years, but there is a structure to the sonnet, a basic structure, a framework on which the sonnet grows. In a haiku context what would be the basic framework around which we write our verses? I think my argument would be that we have to understand what it is that makes a haiku, the spirit or essence of it, because the haiku has moved on from a basic framework, or form. There are so many ways to write a haiku, 3 lines, 2 lines, monoku, single words. Form no longer works as a framework, which is why I was trying to get a list going of things that Wayne calls “haiku essentials” things that matter when you’re writing haiku. What does distinguish it from another form of poetry.

I do regard haiku and senryu as poetry. Do you?

This is why I love feedback. Thanks to those of you for taking time to send me emails. It gives me so much to think about. And I’d welcome any thoughts you might have on rules, form, essentials. Just email me.

Next is the renku. My thanks to the following poets for their contributions; Paddy White, wendy c bialek, James Young, Robert Horrobin, Pat Geyer, Giddy Nielsen-Sweep, Jonathan Roman, Nicky Gutierrez, Hemapriya Chellappan and Ian Speed. To find out who wrote which verse please check out the show notes.

palms up
facing the sun

Paddy White

a passing dog
smells the soles of his shoes


immigrants’ dreams
in cement

wendy C bialek


rain clouds gathering
no bed at the hostel


stone epitaphs
my tomb is bigger than yours
all are dead

James Young

gargoyles grin
as they piss on the fallen

Robert Horrobin

seeing his breath
only the living can feel
the cold

Robert Horrobin

a ray of light
rage thaws the frost


moonlight calm
sets daylight frenzy…
dawn chorus

Pat Geyer

butcherbird sings the morning in
I’m no longer alone

Giddy Nielsen Sweep

slow day
the peach tree blooms
in his cup

Jonathan Roman

the rhythm of coins
determines his future



the stars
this city night

Nicky Gutierrez

this windy darkness
a plastic bag floats even higher

Hemapriya Chellappan

the moon
can’t reverse
a rising tide

Ian Speed

just before sunrise
she catches only one fish


I hope you’re enjoying the renku so far and of course they’ll be more in episode 11.

I’d welcome any poet who wants to join in and write some verses for the renku, just drop me in email.

We probably all know Hifsa, but have you heard her voice? For our pleasure I would like to introduce a reading by Hifsa Ashraf. You won’t find her commentary in the show notes, but you will be able to read her monoku.

Hifsa Ashraf

evening wind the fence wire collapsing the stars


self isolating my shadow in the dark


invisible enemy lurking through both sides of the window

My thanks to Hifsa for reading to us this week. If you enjoy it let her know, she’s on Twitter @hifsays or you can send me an email and I’ll forward it to her.

If you would like to do a five minute reading for the podcast just let me know. We can discuss the verses you’d like to read and how to go about it and go from there. I think it adds another dimension, what do you think?

And before I end the podcast I promised to let you know how to buy the spring journal. It’s on Amazon. That was the easiest way for me to produce it. Here is the link;

Spring 2020: The Poetry Pea Journal of Haiku and Senryu Paperback


Amazon Germany

Amazon UK

Amazon Japan

Now it’s out, would you do me a huge favour and just write a little blurb in the review section. I would be eternally grateful.

Don’t worry I haven’t forgotten about the children’s anthology. I’m just a little bit behind my anticipated schedule. Watch this space…

Thank you as always for coming along and listening to the podcast, for all your feedback, and all the poetry you submit for the topics. I’m so grateful for all of that and for the support you’ve given me for the Pea TV moments on YouTube. If you haven’t tried them watch them you’ll find them on the poetry website as well as YouTube.

Til next time, keep writing….!

Series 3 Episode 9: A New Dimension
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