This week I’m delighted to feature a writing and editing workshop with Ben Gaa and a reading of haiku from Roger Watson as well as the start of a new renku.

Hello my name is Patricia and I’d like to welcome to episode 15 of the third series of the Haiku Pea podcast. I’ve called the episode chocolate box because to me and I hope it will be to you,  it’s like being faced with a wonderful box of chocolates and not knowing quite where to start because they’re all so fantastic.

First up big news the second Poetry Pea Journal of haiku and senryu, the summer 2020 addition is now out and this time I’ve done a kindle version. I know many people weren’t able to access the print version because of Covid, hopefully this will help.

Before I continue I just want to give you a quick reminder that I’m now accepting submissions on the topic of loss. Something my guest editors noticed over the last couple of months is that you don’t actually need to use the topic word in the verse. Often using it means that you are telling the story of the verse rather than showing it.

Michael Baribeau sent me a terrific quote which illustrates what I’m trying to say very well. He paraphrased Matsuo Basho,

A haiku is like a finger pointing to the moon. If the finger is bejeweled, we no longer see the moon.’

Thanks for that Michael.

I was going to do a feedback episode following on from our discussions of the essence of haiku and brevity and editing but then I had an opportunity to have a chat with Ben Gaa who you might know also as Ben Moeller-Gaa, on the topic of his writing process and editing. I’ll come back to the feedback episode next time because I promise you there is a lot to talk about. Thank you all for coming back to me with your ideas and thoughts if you haven’t done so already you have another month.

So the first of our chocolates, from my perspective a coffee cream, is a chat with Ben, our second selection, dark chocolate with  an orange cream filling, is a reading of the latest renku, at least as far as we’ve got with it and our third selection, chocolate truffle, is a reading by Roger Watson of some of his work.

If you don’t know Ben, let me tell you a little bit about him.

Ben Gaa is from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a Pushcart nominee and the author of the 2018 Touchstone Award winning Wishbones (Folded Word 2018). He has a new book, One Breath, which is a full length collection of haiku and senryu and is available from Spartan Press at an on-line bookseller near you. He is also the author of three chapbooks, Fiddle in the Floorboards (Yavanika Press 2018), Blowing on a Hot Soup Spoon (poor metaphor 2014) and the Pushcart nominated Wasp Shadows (Folded Word 2014). If you haven’t read his books I’m sure you’ve had his work in one of the many channels in which has been printed included. I recently saw his talk at the Haiku Society of America zoom conference which is now on YouTube on their channel and thought what he was saying would it be would be relevant to what we were currently thinking about on the podcast. I was delighted that Ben could give me some time to have a little chat and you’re about to hear the results. If you’d like to see the chat I shall put it up on YouTube as a little bonus episode. It might take a few days.


I hope you enjoyed my chat with Ben. I found it quite inspirational and my mind has been buzzing with new haiku ever since I heard his talk. 

Now our orange creams, the renku. Quite appropriate because this renku is very loosely based around food.

I decided to try something a little bit different this time. If you read renku in other journals they’re generally put together by a few people and so this time I’ve limited the number of participants to  see what difference it makes, if any.

So this time my thanks must go to James Young, Giddy Nielsen Sweep, Ian Speed, Michael Baribeau for all the work they’re putting into it. Here it is so far:

winter bites – –
in my rice bowl
only tears

James Young

scratching the snow
a squirrel’s hoard


found food functions
better than exotic recipes
and fancy dining

Ian Speed

no feet of clay for this
plodding house wife

Giddy Nielsen Sweep

flower moon
a coolness creeps
into the harrowed soil


slaked limestone
life’s bitter sweetness

James Young


my kiln belly
anticipating the crop
i plough on

James Young


hunger for bitterness leaves
upturned earth unsweetened

Ian Speed


kissed by summer
asleep in the bee meadows
a trout stream

James Young

in the frying pan
hibiscus flowers float

Giddy Nielsen-Sweep

color tour
a thermos for tea
to warm our hands 

Michael Baribeau

I hope you’re enjoying it and once we’re finished writing it perhaps you can feedback to us whether working with just a few poets makes a difference. More from the renku  next month.

And lastly our chocolate truffle, Roger Watson who will read some of his work to us. You can read them again yourself in the show notes. Welcome back Roger.

two pigeons
on the narrow branches
the mile high club

sakura blossom
on the koi pond
two legends meet

in the ivy
the wren
I never see

Many, many thanks Roger for taking the time to put together another wonderful reading for us. I’m pretty sure it won’t be the last time we hear from you. Don’t forget if you enjoy Roger’s work you can read more in his recent book Dewdrops in which he and Sue Wai Hlaing share their work. Details in the show notes.

Next month I’m happy to say that Ben Gaa will be back to give us a reading from his new book one breath.

That’s it for this week. In a couple of weeks I will be bringing you a podcast filled with your work on the topic of Joy. It’s a cracking episode and lots of new people will be joining us.

So for now though thank you so much for joining me today, thank you for all the feedback you sent me in between episodes, and a special thank you to Ben and Roger for joining us on the podcast today.

The next topic is loss so until we meet again, keep writing…




Roger’s Book:

Dewdrops Roger Watson and Su Wai Hlaing available in kindle  on amazon   available in hard copy if you email Roger Price for delivery in UK/Europe- GBP 4.50  for the rest of the world GBP 7.00.


Ben’s Recommended books

The Haiku Anthology (Third Edition — editor Cor Van Den Heuvel)
Haiku Moment: An Anthology of Contemporary North American Haiku (editor Bruce Ross)
Haiku: Ancient and Modern (edited by Jackie Hardy)
Naan Anunaad (edited by Kala Ramesh, Sanjuktaa Asopa and Shloka Shankar)
Where The River Goes: The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku (editor Allan Burns)

Ben’s Books

One Breath


Series 3 Episode 15: Chocolate Box

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