Grant me a cloud’s grace,
a slow imperceptible

I am something of a fan of the TV quiz show Pointless and one of its presenters, Richard Osman. However, I have to take issue with Richard’s description of a haiku on a recent show. It is not all about the syllables. The haiku form in poetry came to us from China via Japan, and my understanding of the language of both these countries (which is minimal it has to be said) is that syllables don’t play a great part. The rules about syllables must have been imposed after the drift west.

In the wind that blows through us… exploring the world of haiku and well-being (www.britishhaikusociety.org.uk) Colin Blundell says, ‘… in writing haiku there’s a shift of focus from interior to exterior events. The place of renewal is in the potential space between the individual and what’s out-there. The writer reveals something about a momentary relationship. The poetic encounter with other people’s haiku cause you to see things differently.’ (P62). Haiku writers (and readers) are trying to capture an ineffable moment in words. It is a type of meditation, rather than ‘clever verbal footwork’ or ‘attractive word pictures’ (Ken Jones quoted page 113).

Artist and writer, Ruth Collett (http://ruthcollett.co.uk/) explains the attraction of haiku for her: ‘I choose haikus when I want to catch a numinous moment – less is more. I have a tendency toward the florid and the haiku form keeps that at bay. The form requires that every syllable is intended and works for the whole. This is not easy and often I fall off the Haiku perch and produce Haikish – but I allow this and sometimes the extra syllables I think so essential now will wear away in time.

I see a confluence between the photographic images I make and the rigour and discipline of the haiku form. My images are spare, in that they concentrate on small details of pattern and form,Sand conch yet vast because those same patterns and forms are present throughout the natural world and in every scale. Haikus attempt to capture a moment, but in such detail as to ring with a universal truth.’

‘Sea-sifted sand swirls
Lays down sea coal galaxies
Wheeling round the rocks’


Ruth is having an exhibition of her photos at Lupin café, Ramshill, Scarborough, YO11 2LW   07733 485548. She will be performing there on the 13th of February 2016 at 2pm and selling copiuntitledes of her book of photos & haiku as part of Coastival 2016 (http://www.coastival.com/)


I love writing haiku and I have to admit I do enjoy the ‘verbal footwork’ cautioned against above; getting the ‘right’ number of syllables appeals to the scientist daughter in me perhaps. However, I want my haiku to be much more than that, I want them to be an expression of a deeper connection with nature and with existential questions which face all humanity.

Take this example:

Sitting amongst bones
fossilised by our moment’s

Visit to Rotunda museum, 15th December 2015

I like the play of words in the one above, but what I actually feel is:

Sitting amongst bones
I am freed by our moment’s

Visit to Rotunda museum, 15th December 2015


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.