Monthly Archives: May 2021

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Time to Try Tanka

Breakfast was baked eggs. I put chopped spring onions, mushrooms. ham, tomatoes and grated cheese in an oiled dish, broke on three eggs and seasoned with black pepper. It’s a substantial brunch designed to last until this evening (with possibly a scone to keep us going) so I think three eggs is OK.

In the oven for twelve minutes (it wasn’t fully heated when I put them in) and Julia said hers was a little too firm for her tastes. She will get ten minutes next time because she is a barbarian who eats eggs before they are decently hard. I was happy with my 15 minutes as I like mine hard, and don’t mind them rubbery.

It’s a simple recipe, but one I seem to have forgotten over the years. Do you have recipes like that?

There are no photos as I ate it well before thinking of them. Maybe next time…

I managed to get three submissions off last night and this afternoon I had an acceptance from the batch sent out on the 18th. I sent ten haiku and eight tanka off to two different editors at the same magazine (they often have different editors for different things and allow you to submit to both) and have now had one accepted by each editor. I’m counting it as two submissions and two acceptances. If it had been one editor at the magazine I’d have only counted it as one. This is one way I’m upping my submission numbers. The other is trying new magazines. I’ve just submitted to one that holds the record for my speediest rejection. I thought I’d give it another go. The editor has changed and the so has the system – if they like it they accept within 14 days. If they don’t like it you can submit it elsewhere after 14 days. It’s a little imprecise, but simple enough as a system, and at least they aren’t going to set any new records.

Julia is making something complicated with chicken and marinades and stuff (she takes more trouble over the food that I do). It smells good, and she has just taken it out of the oven. Time, I think, to load this and eat.

I’m also sending two tanka prose off (the inelegantly named tanka equivalent of haibun) – one of them features crepuscular rays, hence the photo.

Me and Roger McGough

I’ll go back a couple of days for this one.  I had an email yesterday. As is customary I have had three haibun rejected by the editor who always rejects me.  He thinks there were some interesting points but they aren’t quite there yet. He has been thinking that for around two years. I have submitted to him half a dozen times and have failed to find favour every time.  Two years of being “not quite there yet” seems like a long time – in that time I have had haibun published in six other journals.

I don’t mean I should be accepted very time I submit, or that the rejecting editor is wrong. Even the magazines that generally accept me don’t do so without the odd rejection, and once in a while I get a hard time from one of the editors demanding changes I don’t always want to make. When that happens, I get annoyed with myself for not writing to a high enough standard. That’s not difficult to cope with.

However, when you are consistently turned down by one editor you reach a point when you have to wonder if it’s worth the effort, and whether he is looking for something I can’t produce.  I’ll probably try a few more times, because each rejection is one more for the year’s list. I’m supposed to be aiming for 100 rejections and have only made 22 submissions so far this year. I’ve been a bit lazy recently, so need to up my game. It doesn’t do me any harm to get a few rejections because it does make me sharpen up, the only proviso is that I want to send stuff out that has a chance of success, and that takes time. Recently it has been taking longer than usual.

Anyway, that’s a rejection, and the lessons to be learned from it. I will now go back by another day.

My copy of Acumen arrived. I has two of my poems in it. They were shortlisted in February and accepted in March, so it’s been a while. I have become so used to the rapid internet world of most haibun magazines that this seems a long time. It’s the 100th edition and is bigger than usual, and is very glossy. To say I was pleased with myself would be an understatement.

When I opened it I found there were quite a few famous poets in there, Mimi Khalvati was on the opening page and Roger McGough was about half-way through. I’m right at the back, but it doesn’t matter, I’m still in a magazine with some famous poets. I’ve been in magazines with some notable haibun writers too, but none of them as famous as Roger McGough.

It took a while for me to calm down after that, which is why the Saturday rejection bounced off me, and why I’ve had to wait until now to write about it. It’s probably very un-Zen to be too excited about this sort of thing, so I also had to watch out I didn’t upset any passing haiku practitioners with my unseemly showing off.

Day of Rest

I fell asleep in the evening, woke, ate, wrote and slept in the chair again, waking stiffly at 2am. So I went to bed. By seven I was ready to get up again, as my back was telling me lying down wasn’t a good idea. I have just spent a couple of hours catching up with other bloggers. Try Growing out of Chaos or Billy Mann. Also enjoyed Matthew Paul and the usual suspects, including Derrick and TP. I always feel guilty adding links, as there are loads of great blogs out there that I enjoy but take for granted. Almost forgot Paol Soren, and some breath-taking views of Tasmania. I read that two hours ago and I’ve crammed so much in that I’ve already started to forget things. If I have failed to link to your blog, I assure you that it isn’t personal.

The rest of the day is unlikely to be quite so productive as I have to stop and cook breakfast now (that’s how we can tell it’s Sunday – breakfast is made by cooking rather than by pouring milk on it). That will involve sitting in front of TV for a while and chatting. It’s what we do. If I had my life over again I would try to eat at a table with no TV, but I’ve slipped into various bad habits and I don’t have the energy to fight them all.

Ideally, of course, I’d have a separate breakfast room with chafing dishes and a footman to serve, but that’s diverging from reality in a significant way.

So, time to make breakfast.


By these baubles…

Yesterday, after posting, I had another note from WP, congratulating me on four successive days posting.. It’s only in the last few weeks that I’ve had a run of failing to post on time, prior to that I had some quite lengthy runs. I’m wondering what happens when we put the clocks back. It’s either then or when we put them forwards (I can never work it out) that my posting record becomes patchy. It’s nothing to do with me, but all the posts within an hour of midnight seem to stop registering on the right day. The first time I noticed it I’d strung months of continuous posting together and it suddenly disappeared.

Will WP send me a note telling me that they have recalculated? That would be a laugh. For people like Derrick and Tootlepedal, who both seem to possess metronome DNA, I’m sure they have hundreds of consecutive days. My efforts hardly count next to their long, photo-filled and extremely regular posts. They should be getting gold medals, not just notes with a blue drawing.

I’m now conflicted, do I now miss a day to show my disdain for the system or do I carry on regularly so that WP can pat me on the head for being a good boy?

I will ponder this question as I publish this post, get a new email and sit in the latest set of Saturday roadworks. They are working on the ring road and there seems to be a new delay every Saturday, It’s the only day of the week I go directly to work instead of dropping Julia off first, and it’s a little annoying to sit in a queue on what should be a quiet and easy journey.

Ah well, compared to the abyss of unemployment it’s better to be delayed than out of work.

The title comes from Napoleon Bonaparte – “You call these baubles, well, it is with baubles that men are led…”

WP obviously feels the same. When he said baubles he meant the Legion d’Honneur, rather than Christmas decorations. That’s the medal on the red ribbon at the far right of the header picture.

A Jumble of Tedium

I had a note from WP the other day congratulating me on posting three days in a row. This puzzled me as I have done more than three days in  a row on many occasions and they have never bothered to congratulate me. have any other regular writers out there had a similar message, and did you think it was strange?

They have probably been on a training course to teach them how to be empathetic. Unlike their new editing system, which as you know, I consider to be merely pathetic.

Today, in a distinct absence of orders from eBay, I put 16 more pieces of sheet music on eBay and then moved on to maps. WE now have over 1,300 items of stock on eBay and we are going through all the boxes of junk and having a push at getting rid of it. It’s a welcome break from Elvis coins, but that’s about the best you can say for it.

When I got home (it’s now taking three times as long as it did before lockdown ended) I found I had two letters. One is from the NHS, and is an example of how to use a lot of words, and create confusion. In summary, it says thank you for filling in a recent questionnaire and could I now fill in a new one as they are testing the reliability of the questionnaire design. The trouble is that I don’t think I filled the last one in. It can be confusing to a man who doesn’t concentrate.. I’ve done two online surveys too. I think I blogged about one of them. I’m doing three surveys on a regular basis, one of them monthly, and I can no longer remember who they are for.


A Few More Coins

As the header picture show, I can’t always prevent myself using unsuitable camera effects. Sometimes I get bored and that’s what happens. I also did a listing for some Elvis Presley commemorative coins a couple of days ago, and the first draft included text to the effect that the experience had left me all shook up and that even hours later I found it was always on my mind. You’d have to have a wooden heart not to feel some emotion at the sight of all those coins being disfigured by cheap stickers with pictures of Elvis on them. The trouble is that most American coins are quite distinctive, and reasonably well made, so they aren’t improved by adding pictures. Nor is Elvis improved when you see the outline of a Walking Liberty, JFK or George Washington underneath, making strange shadows. Look at them and tell me you don’t think the man behind them is the devil in disguise. They make my pink neon picture look quite artistic.

Can you see what I mean- it covers the coin design and does Elvis no favours.

I’ve decided that no depths of taste are too low for the marketing departments of he coin marketing companies, and this probably applies to executives of Elvis Presley Enterprises too.

The next two are pictures of a Tennessee State Quarter from two different angles – one showing the Elvis picture and one showing the George Washington  profile. It’s lightly

State Quarter with Elvis picture

Same coin, different angle.

The saving grace of the Tennessee State Quarter is that it does feature musical heritage on the reverse, celebrating the sate’s many links to music, which include Elvis.

Reverse of the Tennessee State Quarter

And finally, an example of what happens if you apply a grey filter to a neon pink coin. Things are not always as bad as they seem.

George II, but this time in grey.

Reading, writing, wittering on…

This is a post I wrote this morning. I arrived at work slightly earlier than usual and found there were only two parcels to pack, so that was soon done. I don’t access WP from the work computer, as I don’t want to blur too many lines, but I do sometimes check my emails, so I emailed this to myself.

After posting last night, I spent some time looking at poetry to see what I could do to improve. First stop was  a magazine that usually rejects my work. The editor does give me advice from time to time, which only increases my confusion. I don’t always understand what they say to me, and I definitely don’t understand why things identified as faults in my work are acceptable in the work of others. I found several examples and spent half an hour studying them for clues as to what makes them publishable when I am not. I looked at all sorts of things apart from the writing and the content, including subject, voice and style, and I couldn’t se what the successful pieces had that I didn’t. I’ll have a go in a few months and see what I can see.

Better informed, but mystified, I moved on. If I keep seeking, I am sure I will find something to explain it, and even if I don’t , I am bound to learn something and improve, simply by looking at things in greater detail.

It’s that pond again. The haibun that it inspired was eventually split in two. One half was published. The second half formed the basis of another haibun I am still working on.

I found two by someone from the UK and decided to look him up. I do that sometimes. He writes in several forms and has published nearly a thousand pieces in 20 years. He belongs to two writers’ groups, reads in public and plans all his poems out. I’m already sensing several differences in our approach. I don’t like the idea of writers’ groups, don’t like speaking in public, and although I do think of planning I rarely do any. I say “rarely” but if you were to pin me down on detail, I may alter that to never. But I do sometimes thing of planning, which is nearly the same. However, despite the differences there is one similarity – we keep writing, learning and submitting.

My normal planning process is to think “I’m going to write something.” I may have to look at that again.

At that point, or some defined point in the future (generally after eating or watching TV) I write. Then I write some more and try to add something at the beginning that is also mentioned at the end. If you do that it looks like you had a plan. Then I take all the bad words out – long words because they are just showing off, adjectives because they are frowned on in poetry, and clichés – shards is one of the main ones that people go on about but myriads, hosts and cerulean are also unwelcome.

Then I leave it to rest. Some of my published work has been resting for a couple of years, with a gentle nudge and a prune now and again. Sometimes I add a bit, but mostly it’s a process of reduction. Then one day I send it out into the world. It often returns. So I cut, shape and send it out again. If it comes back too many times, I think about reusing bits of it.

It’s sometimes difficult to judge. Some poems go out four or five times and are eventually accepted. Others go once or twice and get parked. It all depends on how much confidence I have in them. One went out five times before being accepted, another was accepted on its fourth attempt (four days after being rejected by another magazine).  As Chuck Berry said ” It goes to show you can never can tell.”

An attempt at artistry


Warning – a Disappointing Post

Seven minutes to midnight and I have written two posts that just won’t do. I’m becoming tedious.

I wrote about coins, but I wrote about them recently and I know that not everyone finds them as interesting as I do. I tried some current affairs, offering advice to Harry and Meghan, but even mentioning them in passing gives them too much credibility.

I’m now writing about writing a post under extreme time pressure, which isn’t a new subject, though it is a new record for time pressure – seven minutes is not much time. It normally takes me that long to add the tags and photos. Tonight’s photo is likely to be the first thing I come to, and the tags will be rudimentary.

Actually, with two minutes to go and only 131 words written, it isn’t going to happen but I will hack on and post just after midnight. Some things just aren’t meant to be.

I filled in the annual questionnaire that I do for the University, though I’m not sure what they actually gain from the information I supply. My hands hurt, my knees hurt and several other joints ache at times. They are more painful this year than they were last year. That’s about it. I could write much more about it, but they don’t want it.

Nottingham Trent University, our second university, has been doing a project with poetry during lockdown. I discovered the site last night when I was looking for villanelles. It’s OK as poetry sites go, but they asked if I’d fill in a questionnaire, so I did. As I was going through it I realised that I had nothing sensible or useful to say. So, several minutes in, I closed it down. I tend to do that these days. If I were wiser I would simply not start answering, but there’s always that flicker of vanity that persuades you that you have something valuable to say. Usually I don’t.

A bit like tonight…

Fifteen minutes by the time I’ve added the title. Not bad. Though not good enough.



Running Like a Hamster

It seems like I’ve been writing all day, and all I’ve done so far is catch up on work that I’d allowed to get behind last week. This morning’s post doesn’t really count because it had mostly been written and was just lying in drafts waiting for me to press the button. I did have a  short break for lunch, but having learnt from past experience, I got back to work before a nap attack had time to occur.

I’ve not done a lot of reading recently, so I apologise for neglecting you all but things have been quite hectic. I’ve slept a little too much time away in front of the TV and I’ve put in four submissions in the last four days and I’m trying to do a fifth, though I’m not doing well on that one as I still haven’t touched it today. This is all made more time-consuming by my poor time management abilities.

I’ve also being doing another Buson 100. I did one before, and tried another which I didn’t complete. I’m now four weeks into the new one. I looked at links for the Buson 100, and you’ll never guess what – one of my posts was the fifth. Embarrassingly, it’s from my second attempt, which petered out. I know other people have done it, because I’ve seen it mentioned on several occasions, but very few people seem to want to admit it.

That is, of course, another reason why I’ve been short of time. I’m writing 70 haiku a week and trying to do a few diary notes each day to put them in context. Some days it takes twenty minutes, some days I don’t get them done. What tends to happen is that I write them down, but don’t get round to typing them up, which can be a problem on days like today, when I have fifty or sixty haiku to type plus some back-dated diary notes. Actually, I’m writing over 70 a week because I often do a few extra and when I’m typing them I often have a couple of ideas for new ones. Some of them are OK, so it’s not a waste. I will tell you more about it in another post. Meanwhile, if you don’t see me about as much as usual, it’s all part of the process. I have just about sorted it out now and am hoping to get back into the swing of things by the end of next week.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park