Thank you for the positive feedback from Episode 23, the breakfast special. Award for best pun goes to Nicholas for his comment “Eggsellent podcast”, very witty.

I’m talking about Shiki again, and welcoming back Dr Tim Gardiner who writes superb examples of Ekphrasis and then of course there’ll be a little bit from me.

I am much taken with Shiki’s idea of shasei and impressed by the influence he and his Nippon school have had on the world of haiku. He was not a man who was educated formally in literature, indeed according to Janine Beichman (1) it was not until 1885 in Japan that the idea of literature embracing many genres was first introduced and even then haiku was not included. Why? Because it was thought that haiku did not have the ability to convey accurately the real feelings of real human beings. Apparently, Shiki agreed with this exclusion until 1889, when he wrote an essay “the origin and development of poetry” in which, taking an idea from Spencer’s “philosophy of style” which proposed that “the shortest sentence is the best”, he argued that “the shorter a poetic form was, the deeper the meaning it could evoke.” (1) This and his assertion that haiku should be more contemporary, made haiku a genre that could be described as literature, he thought.

Back to shasei. If you would like to know a little bit more about it, please have a listen to episode 21 where I talk about it in more depth.

I was convinced then, and even more so now, that Shiki gives prospective haiku writers some great advice. To that end I’d like to read you a selection from “The winter sun shines in” written by Donald Keene. In this excerpt he quotes from an essay by Shiki from his group of essays called haikai hogobako, which “were intended mainly for inexperienced haiku poets.” (2) It suggests that every one of the words in your haiku “must be absolutely essential; to waste even one syllable of the allotted seventeen is the mark of an incompetent poet.” (2)

I’m glad he’s not alive to read my offerings.

This is what he said:

Please read: Donald Keene: “The Winter Sun Shines In” p. 113

I can’t find a reference to tell me to whom the haiku he is criticising belongs, I suspect it’s not one of is own. If anyone can tell me, please get in touch.

Our guest haiku poet this week is Dr Tim Gardiner, who you might remember from Episode 9. Currently Tim is writer in residence at the Munnings Museum in Essex in the UK. Interestingly, on the 16th of May the Museum is having a women’s poetry evening. For details and ticket information click here.

Since Episode 9 I’ve spotted some great haiku by Tim in other publications, such as Presence, and The International Women’s Haiku festival. I’m sure there will be more that I haven’t seen. Congratulations Tim I’ve really enjoyed reading your work.

Today Tim is giving us another example of Ekphrasis, (a verbal describtion of a visual work of art). If you would like more information on Ekphrasis you can hear more on Episode 17 of the Podcast.

In this instance, Tim is describing “A barge on the Stour at Dedham”.

abandoned barge
grass tussocks fill
the emptiness

Does it give you a sense of loneliness?

Thank you Tim. I hope my reading did it justice.

If you would like to know more about Tim, click here
If you would like to go to the Munnings Museum, click here.

I would like to offer you two haiku/senryu from me this week.

The first is based on one of my favourite places to go for a walk. About 40 minutes walk from my house is a piece of protected land. It’s very marshy, which I always find strange, given that I have had a steep walk up the hills to get to it. In this marshland you will find three or four ponds, depending on the weather.

Spring is my favourite time to visit the ponds. Over the last few weeks the frogs have been making their presence felt. There are so many frogs that there are warning signs on the roads around the area, warning cars that these roads might be heavily populated by frogs heading to the ponds. If you take a certain road near me, you’ll find barriers which are closed to block traffic as it’s frog breeding season. It always makes me chuckle!

In honour of the frogs:

the pond
vibrates with song
copulating frogs

I worry that I am telling too much with the last line, but for the time being, I can’t think of another version.

My next offering is a senryu dedicated to my favourite football team, Crystal Palace. I grew up in London so close to their stadium that I could sit in my garden and hear the oo’s and ah’s of the crowd and share their jubilation when they scored. Supporting them is like riding a roller coaster though, many, many ups and downs.

Palace play in the English football premier league. Most seasons they lose so many matches that they are in danger of going down a league. This season was no different and with two matches to go they finally secured their place in the premier league for next season. Not only that but they won their match 5-0. Those of us who follow them can breath again. I dedicate this to my fellow Eagles fans:

our eagle watches
from the crystal palace
drying tears

If you support a particular sports team, I hope that they give you a much easier time.

Thanks very much for listening this week. I hope you enjoyed it.

A quick reminder:

I am asking for submissions for the next special edition of the podcast. The topic is memories and the deadline is the 23rd May for broadcast on the 28th May. I have some lovely submissions already, but I always welcome more.

Looking at my diary I don’t have a guest submission for next week, does anyone have a submission for me? You can write about anything you like.

Keep writing and I’ll be back next Monday with episode 25. Ciao!


You will find links to the books on the Recommended Resources Page

1: Janine Beichman: Masaoka Shiki his life and works
2: Donald Keene: The Winter Sun Shines In

Week 24: Shiki, Ekphrasis, Frogs and Football

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