Online internet courses by With Words

Are you interested in a With Words course? We run courses on haiku (beginner and intermediate, and advanced; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email if you would like to know more about these and our other courses.

With Words (Alan & Karen)

Monday, May 02, 2016

haiku + photograph aka shahai published in moongarlic issue 6 (May 2016)

Delighted to have a shahai published by moongarlic.  Thank you editors!


Photo + Haiku = Shahai 写俳
sha … from shashin (photo) 写真
hai … from haiku 俳句

photograph by Karen Hoy
words by: Alan Summers

o    all the lost names
u    another building ticks
s    adjusting to change

Friday, April 29, 2016

three monostich poems published in Otata issue 4 - haiku, monoku

Three monostich poems:

shadows that don't daffodils belong

sun off stubble a train in its landscape

call of geese the heart I eat inside

poems©Alan Summers

Publication Credit: 
otata 4 (April, 2016) An e-zine of haiku and short poems

Otata is edited by John Martone

A number of books by John Martone are available from:

Friday, April 15, 2016

melissa allen fuel rods by moonlight haiku explication by Alan Summers

Original photograph©Karen Hoy, manipulated image with permission by Alan Summers

Where moonlight meets death:

Full explication of this remarkable haiku

I’m very proud of being one of the founding editors of a cutting edge online magazine that first published this fine one line haiku. 

radiation leak moonlight on the fuel rods

Melissa Allen
First publication credit: Haijinx IV:1 (2011)

This social conscience/science/industry based haiku carries on from Japanese haiku writers such as Yamaguchi Seishi when the industrial revolution was taking hold:

natsukusa ni kikansha no sharin kite tomaru

Up to summer grass,
wheels of a locomotive
coming to a stop.

The Essence of Modern Haiku: 300 Poems by Seishi Yamaguchi. Translated by Takashi Kodaira and Alfred H. Marks. Introduction by Sono Uchida. Atlanta, Ga.: Mangajin, Inc., 1993

To the result that a second world war took hold, and post-atomic bombed Japan’s struggles were recorded by Tohta Kaneko, influenced by Issa, combining the nature of Issa with the nature of his ongoing contemporary society:

Shinishi hone wa umi ni sutsubeshi takuan kamu 

dead bones into the sea I chew pickled radish 

Tohta Kaneko
English version Alan Summers 

This haiku is about the horrific aftermath of WWII Japan suffering atomic attack radiation in some parts, and food shortages and extreme poverty across Japan. Pickled radish is very loud when chewed, like bones being crunched, and human bones were disposed of in the sea. Hunger, and no choice but to dispose of so many bodies, became an unforgiving duet of death and informed much of Kaneko’s post-war work. 
The G-force of Blue | Touching Base with Gendai haiku by Alan Summers 
Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts Vol.1, No.1 February 2013

And then we come to someone like Melissa Allen who brings aspects of both industrial revolution; post-war society invention; and its consequences, which continue to enfold with the Fukishima incident, where nature is stronger than man’s incompetence. 

We have entered man-interfered nature on a great scale, and while the planet is safe whatever happens, and many of the other basic animals, we tread foolishly if we do not take note.

The haiku is one straight line of seven chilling words that technically encapsulate the autumn kigo (seasonal reference) of the moon; a season for visiting past relatives and family at graveyards, and harvesting the fields which are turned on their heads bringing forth a last century danger right back into the new century we are now precariously starting off for our children.

Brevity, a powerful tool, as haiku are like shorthand notation; memes; memos; minature prayers; and mantras; all not easily forgotten, and as well, it’s eco-writing that has moved on from nostalagia to a wake up call.  

We cannot contain the radiation leak from this Fukishima multiple incident of nature and faulty construction.  Moonlight will reveal as much as direct sunlight will on how those fuel rods have not held up: Neither has the sandbags both pitifully literal defences in the early stages, as well metaphorical tags for one lack of insight after another.   

We all scurry under moonlight, in our daily routines, at our peril, at risk from neglected foresight and hindsight that will never be 20/20 vision, and the poet will seek us all out.

Alan Summers

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Haiku & Tanka: Amazement and Intensity four week online internet course led by Alan Summers

Haiku & Tanka: 
Amazement and Intensity 
The 2016 Course

MON, JUN 6, 2016
SUN, JUL 3, 2016
A four-week online workshop, where teaching artist Alan Summers will guide you through an exploration of the roots of haiku (from classic to gendai) and its sister form of senryu. 

He will also cover tanka, sometimes seen as the Japanese sonnet. 

You'll trace the forms' heritage by readings from its founding fathers and mothers, negotiate its deceptive simplicity of subject and language, and follow the evolution of English language haiku and its subforms through its modern journey. 

Throughout the course, we'll refer to a highly respected classic anthology (a downloadable handout will be provided).

In Week 1, “Amazement of the Ordinary,” we’ll focus on haiku, its origins, its language, and consider what it is exactly that makes a haiku.

In Week 2, “Being Human: The Ordinary Intensity”, we’ll look at senryu, the sister form to haiku.

In Week 3, “The Japanese Sonnet,” we’ll look at the related five-line form of the tanka.

In Week 4, “Futures,” we’ll look at the non-traditional emergent subform: gendai haiku, and reinforce and build on what we’ve learnt with haiku, senryu and tanka.

4 weeks online/$200
plus follow up month

Teaching artist: Alan Summers

The Poetry Barn organisation:
image©Poetry Barn

Monday, March 28, 2016

Yanty's Butterfly - An Anthology of haiku dedicated to Yanty Tjiam, and her family, and proceeds to Hunger Project and ActionAid

Book Cover Art for Yanty's Butterfly © 2016 by Momolu Freeman 

Yanty’s Butterfly Haiku Nook: An Anthology 
Edited by: Jacob Salzer and the Nook Editorial Staff

Yanty's Butterfly is an international haiku anthology dedicated to Yanty Tjiam (1981-2015), and her family. Yanty was a haiku poet who passed away in 2015. She was a beloved member of our Haiku Nook community on Google+. 

In honor of Yanty, 20 poets from Canada, the U.K., Germany, Persia/Iran, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, South Africa, Taiwan, the Philippines, and the U.S. have come together to create this anthology. In the spirit of Yanty, and global connectedness, Yanty's Butterfly embodies a transformative power all its own. 

This anthology consists of over 600 poems, spanning the variety of haiku forms: three-line haiku, two-line haiku, one-line haiku, four-line haiku, traditional haiku (5-7-5), concrete haiku, tanka, and haibun.

Featuring haiku by Yanty Tjiam, George Klacsanzky, Fei Zhan, and award-winning poet, Alan Summers, Yanty’s Butterfly is an essential addition to the haiku literature of the 21st century. 

In the editor's note, Jacob Salzer further describes the inherent value, and significance of this anthology: "As we lost a loved one, Yanty Tjiam, she went through a metamorphosis of her own, and in the process, she transformed us as well ...[Yanty's Butterfly] is a celebration of her life, and her haiku. It is also a celebration of our work in this genre, and the power of haiku to connect people, across countries, across boundaries, around the world." 

All proceeds from this book will be donated to Yanty’s family, and to two charity organizations: The Hunger Project, and ActionAid

More details:!contact-us/vmd5f

How to buy this anthology:!buy/c17y5

Some of my own haiku:

night of small colour
a part of the underworld
becomes one heron

Publication Credit: Modern Haiku Vol. 45.2  Summer 2014; Brass Bell Showcase: Alan Summers (July 2015)

Anthology credit: Haiku 2015 (Modern Haiku Press, 2015);'s Butterfly  ISBN-10: 1329915410 ISBN-13: 978-1329915411

family home
my goodbye 
to the god
of its garden

Publication Credit: Yanty’s Butterfly 2016 Haiku Nook Anthology

a song beginning
the cardboard box in a child
carries its own light

Publication Credit: Yanty’s Butterfly 2016 Haiku Nook Anthology

an older heartbeat
the blur of a pine marten
on the glacier road

Publication Credit: Yanty’s Butterfly 2016 Haiku Nook Anthology

sleeping rough 
I make more room
for the Milky Way

Magazine Credit: Brass Bell Night Haiku (December 2015)
Anthology Credit: Yanty’s Butterfly (Haiku Nook Anthology)


Thursday, March 17, 2016

575haiku - Traditional Haiku as three lines and in a 5-7-5 English language syllables pattern

Traditional Haiku as three lines and in a 5-7-5 English language syllables pattern.

It’s great to have a crack at haiku which is so different from other short genres or forms of poetry. Although modern haiku does not require a 575 count in English unlike many Japanese haiku, it is occasionally worth attempting.  But avoid the many pitfalls!

Always think of the white space, the non-text part of a poem on the page or screen which is just as important as what can be seen and read because it carries its own meaning: 

Although it's normal and natural to follow a 5-7-5 pattern in the Japanese language, and this can be seen with wet floor signs, traffic update messages, and other public notices, conversations, and in all kinds of written creative pieces, it doesn’t mean that every 575 utterance is a haiku, it may just be telling you a shop floor is wet and slippery!

Oh, and traditional haiku, that is, originating from Japan, is commonly written in one line, it’s more a Western thing to write in three horizontal lines. 

So if you still wish to pursue an attempt at 575 in a language other than Japanese (which has three language systems and no alphabet) please always consider including articles (a, an, the) to avoid the poem containing abruptness.

I touch on the complex multiple systems of the Japanese language alongside a report on my judging of the New York based organisation World Monuments Fund and their second haiku competition.  Oh, and enjoy the video too!  ☺

Extended Judge’s Report for 2013 World Monuments Fund Haiku Contest from Alan Summers

I've been studying and writing haiku for twenty-five years and only considered producing my own examples of 575 in the last few years to help guide others who start off that way.

See my own haiku in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern further down.

Here's a little piece in progress about 575 haiku in English including a few of my own haiku in a 5-7-5 pattern:

There are examples of traditional Japanese haiku slightly breaking the rules (hacho) with jitarazu (insufficient syllables) and this has been witnessed since the time before Basho right up to the 21st Century: And it’s the same with jiamari (excessive syllables). In fact some Japanese women sometimes write tanka (five line poems) shorter than haiku, and haiku longer than tanka!   575 is just one way to write a haiku.

The days of Japanese haiku writers being arrested for not doing a 5-7-5 count aka "5-on" "7-on" and "5-on" are long gone, but even 80 years ago some poets in Japan were tortured, sometimes to death, for veering away from what was perceived as patriotic Japanese haiku.  The truth is that poetry scares politicians, and their corporate sponsors.

The Evolution of Modern Japanese Haiku and the Haiku Persecution Incident
by Itô Yûki, Ph.D. (cand.), Kumamoto University, Graduate School of Cultural and Social Sciences

Forgive, But Do Not Forget: Modern Haiku and Totalitarianism 
Itô Yûki talks with Udo Wenzel

Also, regarding the patterns of 575-on, more natural to the Japanese tongue, think of them as patterns of 5-mora 7-mora 5-mora:



syllable weight: 

Japanese language: 

I touch on the Japanese language systems (plural) during my judge's commentary in a haiku competition:

Okay, so still willing to attempt haiku and in a 575 pattern?  

I can write 575 haiku in English syllable patterns although I don't see writing anything in 575 as a challenge, unless they contain certain key components like kiru (cutting) and kigo (seasonal/socio-cultural references), and they have to be tight.  Writing crafted haiku is indeed a discipline in itself, and a syllable count is only a small part.

More than one fold in the paper: Kire, kigo, and the vertical axis of meaning in haiku 
by Alan Summers

n.b. ELhaiku means haiku written in English aka English-language haiku.

Here are 575 ELhaiku published in reputable poetry outlets:

night of small colour
a part of the underworld
becomes one heron

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Modern Haiku Vol. 45.2  Summer 2014

Anthology credit: Haiku 2015 (Modern Haiku Press, 2015)


all this drifting snow
I wonder how I became
yet another shape

Alan Summers

Publication Credit:
Mainichi Shimbun (Japan, January 2014)


another hot day
a leaking water pipe stopped
by the jackdaw’s beak

Alan Summers

Award credit:
Honourable Mention, 14th Mainichi Haiku Contest (Japan 2010)  


lullaby of rain
another pinch of saffron
in the pumpkin soup

Alan Summers

Publications credits: Heron’s Nest (Volume XIV, Number 4  December 2012); The Haiku Calendar 2014 (Snapshot Press, 2013); The Haiku Foundation Per Diem (18/7/14)

Award Credit: Editors' Choices, Heron’s Nest (Volume XIV, Number 4: Dec. 2012); Runner-up, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2013


a nudge in the light
dusk in all its small angles
of a hotel room

Alan Summers
Publication Credit:  Frozen Butterfly issue 2 Spring 2015


this delicate rain
the petal makes a typo
of a gravestone date

Alan Summers
Publications credits: tinywords, haiku & other small poems ( July 2011) 


the moon is broken
Battersea Power Station 
from a train window

Alan Summers

Award credit: 1st Prize, World Monuments Fund 2012 Haiku Contest (New York, US) 

Article: The Moon is Broken: Juxtaposition in haiku article Scope vol. 60 no. 3 (FAWQ  magazine April 2014)

Publication Credit: 
THF Per Diem collection “Light and Dark” December 2014


watery sunlight-
the flower’s fidelity
with a bumblebee

Alan Summers

Publication Credits:  Under the Basho (traditional September 15, 2013, Autumn Issue)

Anthology credit:  
Under the Basho - Autumn 2013 [Kindle Edition]
Don Baird (Editor), Hansha Teki (Editor) ASIN: B00F52Z9JU


This one contains para-rhyme:

lazy afternoon-
I drift along with the breeze
and dandelion seeds

Alan Summers

Publications credits: Aesthetics, (Bath Spa University 2007);  see haiku here, Haiga artwork by Kuniharu Shimizu (Tokyo, Japan 2010)

Anthology credit: Haiku Friends 2 ed. Masaharu Hirata  (Osaka, Japan 2007)


the snow-spinning wind 
I dream of only big trees 
in my prison yard

Alan Summers

Award Credit:  
Runner Up, The IAFOR Vladimir Devidé Haiku Award 2015

warmest regards,

Alan Summers

Japan Times award-winning writer; Pushcart Prize nominated poet; and founder of With Words