Tag Archives: haibun

Sunday Morning

It’s mid-day on Sunday and, as usual, or morning has not been marked by a frantic rush. We had porridge with blackberries as a healthy breakfast. It would have been porridge with blueberries but I seem to have hit the wrong button whilst shopping. That may be a good thing, but it might be a bad thing. To some people it may even be a matter of indifference, though to my mind there’s something wrong with people who keep calm in the face of provocation by their internet shopping. I suppose it’s a test of personality.

When your shopping goes wrong do you

(a) curse the evils of modern technology?

(b) welcome the opportunity for new experiences?

(c) blame the Government?

I usually go with (a). None of the new experiences I’ve had from internet shopping – frozen spinach, plastic cheese, sour blackberries – have actually enhanced my life.

There’s no point blaming the Government, or any Government, because with rare exceptions they aren’t really in charge of what is happening. They just talk about how bad the last lot were and shove their snouts deeper into the trough.

I just went off on a 200 word tangent about politicians. It’s clearly going to be one of those posts where much is written but not so much is posted.

I can’t help wondering if this makes it a stronger post and thinking of an article I once read about composing haibun.

It recommended editing until you managed to remove the subject of the haibun, leaving the reader with a feeling about the unspoken subject – the ultimate ‘show don’t tell’ technique. At least I think that was what it said. And I think it was about haibun. I really ought to make notes.

It’s a bit bit like homeopathic medicine where you dilute the cure so much it is no longer there. I’m on surer ground there because that was on Wikipedia.

There’s a big gap on Wikipedia when it comes to discussion on composing haibun. This is ironic when you consider a gap was what I was researching.

close up of eyeglasses on book

Photo by ugurlu photographer on Pexels.com

For details of the afternoon, check here.

Wednesday Again

Today I got up late, as I don’t see any point in having a day off and flinging myself out of bed at dawn, or any time approximating to dawn. The benefit of having two days off together (as I did this week due to a rearrangement of our days in the shop) is that you can work into the early hours of the morning, pretending to be creative. I say ‘pretending’ because I’m not sure I do my best work when I’m half asleep.

I read for the first hour of waking, then went downstairs.

I had written four haibun last night and, after replying to comments on the blog and reading a few other blogs I got down to work.

All four needed considerable tightening up, and that’s what they got.

Then, at 12.00 I decided to have lunch, as I hadn’t actually had breakfast. Sourdough toast, tinned plum tomatoes, fried mushrooms and scrambled eggs, in case a future reader is interested. It’s not exciting or healthy, but it’s what we had in the fridge. A bit like my writing, which is what happens to be kicking around in my head when I sit at the keyboard.

That turned into a short spell of watching TV and a rather longer one of napping. I don’t know why I needed a nap, perhaps because I could.That led on to doing the washing up and doing a bit more writing. After that there was more TV, a discussion of shopping lists, a meal of stir-fried vegetables, the on-line shopping order and this blog post. Actually there was a previous blog post but it developed in a way I couldn’t be bothered to complete, so it is now resting in drafts.

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Light and Shade

TESCO have increased the delivery charge – I am now paying them £4.50 to pick and deliver my groceries, where it used to cost £3. That’s £75 a year, though if I had to drive to the shop every week I suppose it would cost me about that in car running costs and time.

That’s it for now. The post is drawing to a natural close, midnight is approaching and I need to do my sandwiches for tomorrow.

It’s tempting to ramble on a bit to try for 500 words, but I’m going to stop now. Three hundred and eighty nine will have to do. (If I’d written 389, it would only have been 385 and I wouldn’t have been able to add this sentence and top it up to 412). I just noticed, on  adding a title to the second photo, that the word count went up. Strange…

 

What Can I Write About Today?

I have a  number of thoughts in the pipeline but they still need a bit of work.

However, Derrick and Tootlepedal have both fallen into my trap and asked for more details of what I turned up when I searched myself on Google. They both come up with their blogs when you Google them. I don’t, because I started the blog for the Quercus Community group and, eventually, I became Quercus.

I can now provide details without looking like a blatant self-publicist or an egomaniac.

My real name is Simon Wilson, but both names are so common that if you Google me I don’t get a look in. There are just so many notable people with my name that I’m frozen out, which is slightly annoying as I’ve had for longer than  most of them.

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Trees at day’s end

Anyway, here are the links to me.

Here, here, here, here and here. And here. There were more than I thought.

There’s also a link to one of my blog posts, but though I’ve talked of haibun on the blog several times, and even published a couple, Google doesn’t seem to pick them up. The blog post has a link to a haiku that wasn’t picked up by Google.

There is also a book review  for a book of haibun and other short poems by Xenia Tran, better known on WordPress as Whippet Wisdom. It’s not much of a review but if Goggle can be bothered to note it, it would be rude not to share the link.

According to the blog, I had nine acceptances, but could only find six by using Google. I can’t look them up by name because I’ve forgotten what they were. Somewhere I have a display book with them all in, but I haven’t seen that for a while now I come to think about it.

It’s not an ego thing – I don’t feel the need to print it all out and make a book of it. I just do it because when  you get a rejection it’s easy to take the book off the shelf and remind yourself that you have been a success and will be again. Well, it’s easy to take the book off the shelf if you can remember which shelf.

One rejection, or even several in a row, only means you’re in a temporary dip.

Form, as any coach will tell you, is temporary, but class will last for ever.

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A Figure in the Fog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Head Full of Nothing

A Bentley glided past the road end today as I waited to turn out. It was painted pale blue and silver like a 1960s space rocket, and was about the size of a small aircraft carrier, but it had four wheels and a Bentley badge so I deduced it was a car. Things have come a long way from the days when they were best known for their victories at Le Mans and for racing the Blue Train.

Tim Birkin, who is mentioned as one of the Bentley Boys in the Le Mans link came from Nottingham. The Wiki entry is a bit patchy – he actually had two brothers. Archie was killed in practice for the 1927 Isle of Man TT races and the place of his death is now known as Birkin’s Bend, a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of the person who wrote the Wikipedia entry, despite there being an entry for it. There was also another brother, Thomas, who doesn’t seem to get a mention in Wiki. He was killed in a flying accident in France in 1917.

The most famous member of the family is Jane Birkin. I thought of her recently when Charlotte Gainsbourg appeared in a film I was watching. It was Independence Day: Resurgence, an example of why sequels are not always a good idea. I liked the original film, even though it wasn’t great literature. The sequel would have been greatly improved by moving the opening and closing credits closer together. Ideally, 120 minutes closer together.

Street Art Sneinton Nottingham

My spell-checker is a little more highbrow than I am – it is trying to correct Gainsbourg to Gainsborough. Clearly eighteenth century portraiture is more to its liking than scandalous 1960s pop music, or designer hand bags.

Of course, from Jane Birkin to Kylie Minogue is just a small step from one synapse to another. Pop singers, living in France – easy link. Kylie Minogue doesn’t come from a Nottingham lace-making family, but she is a more prolific pop star.

I hummed a few bars of Spinning Around before Can’t Get You Out of My Head appeared. There’s something evil about that song and it’s still hovering there ten hours later.

They have been ploughing some of the central reservations on the ring road, which might be something to do with the management of wild flowers for bees. Or it might be something else entirely. It seems too late to sow and too early to cut, so I’m not sure what is happening. There is a lot of ragwort growing, which is poisonous to horses. I’m waiting for someone to mention this, as you sometimes see concerned horsey types on roadside verges pulling it up.

Of course, you don’t find many horses on Nottingham ring road so it’s probably safe.

The truth is that live ragwort isn’t a problem as animals tend to leave it alone. This is why we haven’t all died out by eating poisonous plants. It can make them sick if it’s cut and dried in hay, but that’s not likely to be a problem if you were making hay from the contents of our roadside verges old crisp packets and discarded shoes are likely to be  a bigger problem. I’m surprised by the number of old shoes you see on the road in the course of a year. I never see anyone limping by the roadside with one shoe missing, which makes it even more mysterious.

 

Street Art Sneinton Nottingham

Street Art Sneinton Nottingham

Nearly as mysterious as the missing gas men. They were all over the place last week, blocking off the front of the shop and being a general nuisance.

Today, nowhere to be seen. The equipment is there, the cones and the disruption. Even the diversion signs and the holes in the road. But there were no workers. It is like the Mary Celeste put out a call for crew members and a ghostly set of roadworks is the result…

Perhaps an alien space craft came to call, possibly disguised as a Bentley, and they all walked up a ramp and disappeared into the boot.

At that point, I drew up on the shop forecourt and, still humming that bloody song, turned my brain over to thoughts of work.

Later, as I write this, I feel that I need to mention that these thoughts still left me plenty of time to drive safely, avoid accidents and smile sweetly at the bad driving of others. Yes, it was strangely out of character, but it was a pleasant morning.

I break for the evening meal. Julia has cooked and she has caramelised the roasted vegetables perfectly. She is much better at that than I am.

The sky outside my window is clearer than last night, and streaked with a weak attempt at a sunset.

And finally, when I went to search for the link to the old shoe haibun, I did actually find my name on Google, which was nice. The link was broken and I had to search the archive, but it was still nice. I may be many things to many people (many of them tinged with failure), but to the internet I am, and always will be, a poet.

Street Art Sneinton Nottingham

Street Art Sneinton Nottingham

The photos are some that Julia took as we drove back from the Mencap garden. There is a lot of it in Sneinton, and it is regularly renewed. I keep meaning to take more photographs of it. The final one was an attempt at artistic blur. It didn’t quite work but we did get the artistic lines across it. This was an accident caused by Julia’s stripy shirt reflecting in the car window.

 

Sisters Don’t Chase Sticks

This post started life as an attempt at a longer haibun. If you read modern haibun they are very often just a few lines of prose followed by a haiku. It’s not how they used to be, when they were often used for travelogues. Indeed, only about fifteen years ago, haibun, as a form, was originally explained to me as an essay with two or three haiku.

I wrote one. Fourteen years later I wrote another one. It doesn’t do to rush these things.

Recently I felt like having a go at something a bit longer, and thought I might try an autobiography. It earned two rejections, one in its original form and one in a cut down version. To be honest I wasn’t keen on cutting it down, but if an editor suggests trimming the prose I’m going to trim.

The altered version didn’t meet with approval, so I added “loss of integrity” to the sting of double rejection.

I decided that I would use it as a blog post. I have removed the haiku as I can use them later if they are unpublished (and because I struggle to write acceptable haiku). Apart from that, I have just about left it alone – I say “just about” because who can resist the temptation to tinker?

When I posted it, I added the news about my father, which was new since I “finished” the original. Later, I realised I had put in nothing about my mother, so I’m back again (on 6th July) to add more. A poem is never actually finished, you just get to a point where you give up and let it go. I don’t often go back to them, but this one, being an autobiography, just keeps on going. I’m hoping there will be a lot more to add before I consider it finished.

Sisters Don’t Chase Sticks

I am sitting in the garden with a cup of tea, contemplating the neglected door of our coal shed, which now serves as a utility room. A thought enters my freewheeling mind. Could I write my autobiography in haibun form?

Year One – I remember nothing.

Year Two – same again.

This is not, I feel, a promising start.

Year Three – I acquire a dog and a baby sister. I prefer the dog as it is better at fetching sticks. In this golden age there are butterflies the size of my hand and only two sorts of weather – sunshine or snowball  time. It is only with hindsight that I recognise it as a golden age.

Year Four – we move into town, the dog is hit by a car and my parents tell me they have arranged for him to live somewhere safe in the country. I start school – they teach me to read and insist I have a nap every afternoon.

Show me the boy, as they say, and I will show you the man – the reading habit is still with me and I still like a nap in the afternoon, despite complaints from my employer.

Year Five – I go fishing for sticklebacks in the canal. Nobody would let a five-year-old fish in a canal on his own these days. We have destroyed childhood as it used to be. It is, however, possible that we have prevented a few drownings and relieved the pressure on the stickleback population.

Some dogs, according to Disney, make their way back home from hundreds of miles away. Mine doesn’t. In fact, when we visit my uncle, where the dog is now living, he pretends not to know me. I like to think this was because of the head injury, but it might just be that he doesn’t like me.

Eventually I give up trying to teach my sister to fetch sticks and lose my interest in sticklebacks.

At the age of 11 I hit my academic peak, coming top of the class, and am given a book as a prize. I opt for a book on birds, an interest which is still with me.

The dog successfully avoids cars for another eighteen years and dies of old age.

Nothing much of note happens for the rest of my life. I find that sisters do have some redeeming features and are, in the end, better than dogs. I accumulate a wife, a family, and arthritis, which I have inherited from my mother. From my father I have inherited a tendency to offer unwanted advice to other road users.

My parents, after sixty years of marriage, get a telegram from the Queen and we have a party. Gradually, my mother fades away.

And so, fifty years after hitting my academic peak I am sitting in the garden thinking of writing an autobiography in haibun form.

I leave this haibun to mature. Six months later the world changes and I spend a my life in lockdown.

My father dies, and we are not allowed to sing at his funeral.

Hands, Haibun and Haggis

I had a shock this morning. As I waved to Julia after dropping her at work I realised I had my father’s hands on the ends of my arms. I have the same ageing skin, the same slightly bent fingers and the same way of holding my hand when I wave. I even have some brown spots, though mine are freckles rather than age-related.

It was a bit of a shock.

I once wrote a poem, my first published poem as an adult, about looking in my shaving mirror to see my father looking back. It wasn’t quite accurate (or “authentic”,  if you prefer), because I don’t, as you may have guessed from the beard, shave. And in those unguarded mirror moments I actually look a lot like my maternal grandfather who has handed down his distinctive head shape to me.

Eventually, I will probably write a poem about this. It will be much more complicated than the anecdote I have just related and will include angst and a word I can’t quite remember. I’ll remember it when I stop thinking about it. It’s like ambivalence. It might be ambiguous. Something along those lines anyway. Editors, it seems, like that sort of stuff, and I don’t have enough of it.

That reminds me, I have a haibun in Contemporary Haibun Online January Issue. I feel that it may be the last for some time, as one of the main magazines is closing and the chief editor, who has accepted several of my haibun, and offered editorial advice, is being replaced by a man who I do not get on with quite as well.

Time to work on my craft, and begin battering editors with my brilliance.

There were eighteen parcels to pack this morning including several with multiple content. We also bought in a pair of Great War medals and some sovereigns.

We turned down the tin of worthless coins and the stamp collection. It was plain that the owner of the coins thought they were worth a lot more than we did so we persuaded him to keep them as their interest outweighed their commercial value. The stamps, we were truthful about – the market for modern First Day Covers has been dreadful for years and we don’t buy them unless they are autographed or have a coin on them. Or they belonged to Freddie Mercury’s father.

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Falklands Crown 2014 mounted on postal cover and autographed by Sir Tom Courtenay

For tea, we will be having haggis. This time it is made with meat. I’m looking forwards to it, and to making veggie burgers with the leftover veg,

As a welcome coincidence, it begins with “H” and allows me to indulge my passion for alliterative titles.

Another One Bites the Dust

Hopefully, my masterful title writing has hooked you, and you are now wondering which of my many shonky enterprises is currently munching the dry brown stuff.

It could be the continuity of my blog. I started writing it last night but was diverted by a number of things, including a slow-cooked tea which refused to cook properly and an interesting programme on how they make cakes in factories, including fondant fancies and Battenberg, which are two of my favourite cakes.

Did you know they use jam to glue the cake slices together in Battenberg, but jelly to stick the marzipan? I didn’t. It really is fascinating. Not quite fascinating enough as I fell asleep before the end of the programme and missed my midnight deadline.

I’ve been burning the midnight oil recently, trying to correct the faults in my haibun, which are coming home to roost at an alarming rate. Another set came back today, meaning that I now have a run of five submissions without a single success to lighten the gloom.

I am not letting it bring my mood down. It’s frustrating that I no longer seem able to write acceptable haibun but I’m sure it will pass. If I write enough one of them, on the law of averages, will turn out OK.

With that thought in mind, I am off to lunch at IKEA. Number One son needs a few bits before he moves into his new flat and I want to be as helpful as possible in helping him  move out.

It will be a relaxing interlude, which will hopefully help my writing.

 

 

Murder Your Darlings

‘Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetrate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it—whole-heartedly—and delete it before sending your manuscript to press. Murder your darlings.’

Arthur Quiller-Couch

This is generally agreed to be good advice to writers. Such good advice, in fact that it has been attributed to a whole clutch of famous writers, such as Faulkner, Oscar Wilde and Chekov. Not that Wilde was ever likely to have said it, but he just attracts attributions.

What it means is that when you write something particularly fine it is probably wandering off the point and needs to be done away with.

I have a haibun like that. It is based on observation, it has been pared down, sent out, pared down again, sent out… You get the picture. Four times I have sent it out, hopefully having been improved each time, and four times it has bounced back. I’m beginning to feel that I’m the only one who likes it.

This is the version I consider the best one. I have removed several of the improvements because I prefer it this way. The finished version included Gordon’s Gin and Lemons, when the real life version featured supermarket vodka and limes. I just thought it warmed things up a little, as the idea of a fragile pensioner laying into cheap vodka is a little bleak. It clearly didn’t work. I also think lemon scans better than lime, but maybe that’s just me.

It might not be the text or the story, of course, it may just be that the haiku is weak. This has been a matter for discussion with several of my published pieces, and may well have played a part in the non-selection of others.

The way to kill a poem is to publish it on a website. Editors don’t want previously published work. If anyone has any ideas as to why it never made the grade, I’d be happy to hear them.

I don’t generally publish my own work, as you know, because I’m never sure about the quality unless a proper editor has selected it. In this case I’m making an exception because I’m looking for ideas, and making you all accessories to murder.

 

One Perfect Lime

The leopard print boots attract my attention. They are several sizes too big for the woman wearing them, and, I think ungallantly, several decades too young.

She is thin and almost translucent, with wispy white hair and the twitching neck movements of an egret.

Shuffling down the aisle in her overly large boots, and getting in my way, she carries a basket containing own-brand yoghurt and a bag of carrots. We go our own ways, but as so often happens we meet in another aisle. Her shopping has increased by one small wholemeal loaf and a bottle of supermarket vodka. She is selecting an unwaxed lime with great care, holding it up to the light and turning it to see all sides.

 

years have passed

since you last danced

one perfect lime

 

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From the Stained Glass Museum at Ely Cathedral

Some Housekeeping

To start with, we are literally doing some housekeeping and saying goodbye to the lovingly hoarded rammel of a decade. Actually, according to some of the paperwork, that’s two decades.

I have to keep documents for seven years for tax purposes, but the problem is that I never remember to throw things out. I need a system of rotation, like a shop, rather than my current system of piling, like a compost heap.

With the help of a shredder, I intend that most of the old paperwork will shortly be entering a compost heap, but after that, rotation will be my watchword.

Another watchword is, of course, good intentions. OK, so it’s two words, but it’s close enough.

The writing exercises are going well. This is Day Three of the blogging challenge, so it’s still on track. It’s not particularly impressive viewed against the record of some of the more prolific and regular bloggers on WP, but it’s getting back to where I want it to be.

The more I write, the more I want to write, so it’s working well. That’s probably a theme I will return to, as I recently read an article on prolific writing and the way it helps generate ideas. It’s working for blogging, and it’s working for Haibun.

So, decluttering and back to writing. That’s two things. I’m now going to get to grips with making a list of all the irksome little jobs I have to do.

There are a lot of them.

But first, I’m going to make Julia a cup of tea.

And they say romance is dead…

No photos today – the ancient netbook doesn’t seem able to handle photographs tonight and just spent twenty minutes freezing.

 

 

The Dying of the Light

I have just finished eating a miserable, boring and tasteless meal. Low salt baked beans, low fat oven chips and cheap burgers. Even a large spoonful of chilli jam couldn’t bring it to life. This is, I suppose it’s the cost of being healthy.

Not for the first time, I have found myself pondering if life is worth the trouble if you have to extend it unnaturally by eating pap. In fact, after my last few weeks I’ve been asking myself the same question in general, regardless of the quality of my diet.

Even having another haibun published hasn’t cheered me up.  Generally I like to mention my successes in posts, smile modestly and simper a bit whilst feeling mildly smug. This morning I just looked at it, saw all the imperfections and uttered a small sigh.

Click here if you want to read it. But don’t feel you have to, if you are here to hear me moaning about life just read on. For a good poem, click here.

I wonder if Dylan Thomas ever looked at his poems and uttered a small sigh.

Today’s annoyance in the shop was a gas man, who insisted on walking round the shop with a meter, checking for gas leaks. We don’t have any gas leaks. This may be because we don’t have any gas, but we had to have it done anyway in case they were leaking next door.

Tomorrow they will be digging up the road in front of the shop looking for a gas leak. I’m not sure if I mentioned it last time they dug the road up looking for a gas leak. It was about a month ago. There ought to be a rule that if they have to do the job twice they don’t get paid for the first one.

As if that wasn’t bad enough they have just started major gas works, with road closures, on our way to work. The signs say it will take six weeks. It didn’t cause too many problems this morning, but it’s school holidays so things are always easier on the roads. The real test will be in two weeks when the schools go back.

When you’re growing up your parents never tell you about days like this.