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    • Questing
      I am a strong believer in renewable energy, but it’s not a free lunch.  Significant amounts of energy has to be used to change quartz sand to silicon.   Silane gas produced during the manufacturing process is extremely explosive, and explosions occur.  Another risk is that we currently have no safety masks that can prevent […]
    • Blyth Estuary Evening
      There is a wonderful walk along the line of the old narrow gauge railwayline to Southwold, where it runs alongside the Blyth estuary.  I led a walk for a group of poets there this year, and this was one of the poems that I read on the walk.  We had a very enjoyable workshop after […]
    • As The Light Changes
      The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article entitled ’22 beautiful poems about East Anglia’ in their Saturday magazine insert on March 18th this year. I was very pleased to see this poem of mine on the same page as poems by Sir Walter Raleigh and George Szirtes. TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON […]
    • The Last Word
      By way of a change, here is a short piece of prose: In a writers’ group this morning we were challenged to write a short story in 150 words.  The story below contains exactly that number.   The light was starting to fade, and breaking soft waves seemed even quieter.  He stopped collecting pebbles and […]
    • Moving Hands
      How many things that  seemed eternal early in life, have completely vanished?                         TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW ABOVE   Sometime in the nineteen-fifties it perched on the hundred-foot workshop,  where Waitrose’s  entrance is now. It would pace the working lives of hundreds. […]
    • You know you are worth it
      I wrote this poem in mid November this year, then my e-mail inbox started to fill with ‘Pre-Black Friday’ offers, then ‘Black Friday’ offers, followed later by ‘Post Black Friday’ offers, and now I am seeing ‘Black Friday repeat offers’!  Reality has overtaken imagination.   TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE […]
    • Poems for a portrait
      I agreed to sit as the model again this morning for an art group producing portraits.  We had a cultural exchange as at the end of the two sessions as I recited the Haikus composed in my head during the forty minutes of the sitting.  I then exchanged a book of my poetry for the […]
    • Last Orders
      This poem won a ‘Commended’ award in the recent 2016 George Crabbe Poetry Competition.  The competition judge, Moniza Alvi, wrote of ‘Last Orders’ “Tragic and hard hitting, I found this poignant poem compelling.”  ” This is a poem with a real sense of urgency”. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM […]
    • Irony
      During a few days in Liverpool we visited Crosby Beach, to see the Antony Gormley sculptures arranged as  ‘Another Place’.  Two friends had been examining the work, and turned to walk off the beach.  I took the photograph below, and the poem was written after I examined the image, using an  element of artistic license. ‘Communing’ […]
    • Illuminating Longing
      Here is a shared experience from the night of the full ‘Strawberry  Moon’ on June 20th.  A warm evening after a wet morning promised the sight of Nightjars hunting, and the moon was a bonus, PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   The mist quilt  slips across the sodden heath […]

The Haiku and The Tanka

Here are two forms of Japanese poetry that became very popular with very many poets in the Twentieth Century and remain so today.

The Haiku: is a poem of one tercet, simply three lines in length, containing only seventeen syllables in total.  There is no consideration of meter or rhyme, but the syllables must be organised in the specific constraints of five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and then five in the third line.

They key objective of the Haiku is that the tightly controlled words adds to an image that implies much more than the words describe.

Here are two that I have written as examples:

The Rule of empiricism

Slowly as snow melts         (5)
placid uniformity                (7)
is changed by detail.           (5)

A simple statement of what happens during a thaw and/or the suggestion that our lives are constantly being affected by unforseen encounters over time.

Here is another example, where I have used two Haiku to form a poem, the first sets the scene, and the second expands it.

All for thirty Yuan

Crossing Tian Na Men
fluttering midnight kites soar
above the rickshaw.

Who flies kites at night
somewhere on the darkened square
dreams tug on taught strings.


The Tanka
The Tanka in its true Japanese form again ignores meter and rhyme within the five lines of the poem.  Syllables are again the dominant element of the poem, thirty one in total, the first seventeen follow exactly the same format as the Haiku, the extra two lines contain seven syllables each.  I have written First Loss as an example of the form.

First loss

Harvest winnowing                                (5)
seeks to separate the dross                (7)
sieving at speed                                      (5)
eyes  seek only the prized grain       (7)
yet gold  dust falls with the chaff.     (7)

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  1. Martin Edmonds

     /  June 13, 2015

    river haiku

    river changing course
    finds line of least resistance
    water carry me

  2. Martin

    That flows with the formula


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