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)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Haibun - Prose with haiku writing and Journeys 2015 in at no. 7 in Amazon Hot New Releases

photo by Alan Summers 2015      

I feel tremendously privileged to be in this haibun anthology expertly edited by Dr Angelee Deodhar.

These three haibun are not in the anthology because I want you to buy the book and see what selections were made of my work. 

These three one-bun written by me are published in Blithe Spirit, Journal of the British Haiku Society.  


One-bun  (idea and name created by Jim Kacian):

this single malt I handwarm so gently letting go…

peat smoke–
one more angel’s share
of handcrafted whisky

The "Angels' Share” is the amount of alcohol (around 2%) that evaporates normally from oak casks.  Whisky producers once thought it was angels taking a small sip before the whisky was matured for bottling.

Alan Summers
Blithe Spirit Vol. 25 issue 2 (2015)


80 gsm
probably copier paper that became creased and stained not just with tears, but grief, forced through finger pores…

her sweet tooth-
Dear John letters
stuffed in a box

Alan Summers
Blithe Spirit Vol. 25 issue 2 (2015)


Blackbird singing
and a long long walk to be brain-tired out to avoid the internal black dog and survive each footfall at a time

boys fishing 
a pointillism of raindrops
dotting the river

Alan Summers
Blithe Spirit Vol. 25 issue 2 (2015)


A longer haibun with eleven haiku will be appearing in the November issue of Blithe Spirit.  

Do please subscribe to the British Haiku Society if haibun fascinates you: 

Haibun - the practise of interspersing prose writing with haiku, are prose pieces in numerous styles from journalistic writing, diary entries, prose poetry, long fiction through to flash fiction, that usually include one or more haiku within the body of prose or starting or concluding a body of prose.


In 1689, the famous poet Matsuo Bashō (known to some as the "Shakespeare of Japan") travelled to the northern provinces of Honshu (Japan's largest island, home to Tokyo and Kyoto and other major cities).

He wrote a travel diary, called Oko No Hosomichi (The Narrow Road to the Deep North) in which he wrote haikai verses (the precursors to haiku) as well as prose text.

Here is an extract, in fact it's the opening pages:

The days and months are travelers of eternity, just like the years that come and go. For those who pass their lives afloat on boats, or face old age leading horses tight by the bridle, their journeying
is life, their journeying is home. And many are the men of old who met their end upon the road.

How long ago, I wonder, did I see a drift of cloud borne away upon the wind, and ceaseless dreams of wandering become aroused? Only last year, I had been wandering along the coasts and bays; and in the autumn, I swept away the cobwebs from my tumbledown hut on the banks of the Sumida and soon afterwards saw the old year out. But when the spring mists rose up into the sky, the gods of desire possessed me, and burned my mind with the longing to go beyond the barrier at Shirakawa. 

The spirits of the road beckoned me, and I could not concentrate on anything. So I patched up my trousers, put new cords in my straw hat, and strengthened my knees with moxa. A vision of the moon at Matsushima was already in my mind. I sold my hut and wrote this just before moving to a cottage owned by Sampū:

even this grass hut
could for the new owner be
a festive house of dolls

This was the first of an eight verse sequence, which I left hanging on a post inside the hut.

It was the twenty-seventh day of the Third Month [16 May]. There was a wan, thinning moon, and in the first pale light of dawn, the summit of Mount Fuji could be dimly seen. I wondered if I should ever see the cherry trees of Ueno and Yanaka again. My closest friends, who had gathered together the night before, got on the boat to see me off. We disembarked at Senju, and my heart
was overwhelmed by the prospect of the vast journey ahead. Ephemeral though I know the world to be, when I stood at the crossroads of parting, I wept goodbye.

the spring is passing –
the birds all mourn and fishes'
eyes are wet with tears

I wrote this verse to begin my travel diary, and then we started off, though it was hard to proceed. Behind, my friends were standing in a row, as if to watch till we were lost to sight.

So that year – the second year of Genroku [1689] – I had suddenly taken it into my head to make the long journey into the deep north, to see with my own eyes places that I had only heard about,
despite hardships enough to turn my hair white. I should be lucky to come back alive, but I staked my fortune on that uncertain hope.

With The Narrow Road to the Deep North, the haibun form reached an early pinnacle, and this work is acknowledged as important world literature today.


If you are interested in an online internet course on haibun we are currently running one this month already, but will run the course again in January 2016.

Please don't hesitate to contact Karen at:

She will be pleased to send you details about the course. 

warm regards,


Friday, October 23, 2015

British Haiku / English haiku poet Alan Summers

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)

fuller's teasel
lapwings call out
to a stray cloud

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Presence #53 2015

Fuller's Teasel, Barton Park, Bradford on Avon by Alan Summers

pacing clouds
the new station cat
changes sunspots

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Acorn October 2015

train station
the heat of the platform
in my blood

Alan Summers
NHK World - Europe and Japan

train entering Bradford on Avon by Alan Summers

dandelion fluff
I lose count of my time
on this earth

Alan Summers
Publication Credit:  Brass Bell: Alan Summers  Wednesday, July 1, 2015

dandelion photo and alterations by Alan Summers

wildflowers adding a little evening to the daylight

monostich by Alan Summers
Publication Credit:  Presence #52 (2015)

blue wildflowers at Darling Range © Alan Summers

peat smoke–
one more angel’s share
of handcrafted whisky

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Haibun, Blithe Spirit Vol. 25 issue 2 (2015)

a lamb’s cry
scudding clouds over
the cemetery wall

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Scope April 2015 volume 61 no 3

splitting the sky
a kingfisher lifts a branch
off the breeze

Alan Summers
Award Credit: Best of Mainichi Japan 2014
kingfisher in the distance River Avon,
Bradford on Avon by Alan Summers

after rain midnight dreams a hedgehog

Alan Summers
Publication Credit:   brass bell: a haiku journal
One-Line Haiku curated by Zee Zahava (Monday, September 1, 2014)

Kirkstone Pass
a sheepdog gathers
its part of the world

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Muttering Thunder vol. 1, 2014
haiku and photo by Alan Summers, Lake District U.K.

a flink of cows
the blue before a night
of falling snow

Cow: A kine of cows (twelve cows are a link)

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 2014

hard frost-
the snail-hammerings
of a song thrush

Alan Summers
Publication Credit: Muttering Thunder vol. 1, 2014; The Haiku Calendar 2016 (Snapshot Press, 2015)
Award Credit: Runner-up, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2015

marsh marigolds-
opening up hidden suns 
to the morning 

Alan Summers
Publication Credits:  earlier versions: Under the Basho Vol 1.1 Autumn 2013

Cat moon
my wife ill with posset
at the restaurant 

Alan Summers
Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts Vol.1, No.2 August 2013

working the ice cream 
we walk all the way back 
to yesterday

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: Notes from the Gean Haiku Monthly no.21 July 2013;

sunflower heart
the chiffchaff sings
its name

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: 
tinywords 13.2 2013  (ISSN 2157-5010) 
eJournal/eMagazine San Mateo, CA : D.F. Tweney : El Camino Press

exchanging winks
how come this cat knows
my midnight reasons

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: Raindrop  A Journal Of Short Form Poetry Issue 1, 2013 

dad and son
a wasp changes knuckles
at the football match

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: 
Second Haiku Contest, Sharpening the Green Pencil 2013 The Book of the Contest 

The Night Train
of paper rock scissors
you sleep into me

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: 
c.2.2. Anthology of short-verse ed. Brendan Slater & Alan Summers 
(Yet To Be Named Free Press 2013)

drifting rain  
my hundred autumn rooms  
to be alone

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: Mainichi Shimbun (Japan, Oct. 2012); Best of Mainichi 2012 (Japan 2013); Under the Basho ('Best of . . . ' Showcase, Autumn 2013)

Anthology Credit:  A Vast Sky, An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Tancho Press 2015)

For those who are new to haiku and may not know about me.  I'm very much a global haiku poet, but I'm also someone who captures a little of Britain from time to time.

Alan Summers MA (Bath Spa University)

Alan is a double Japan Times award-winning writer; recipient of the Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto Peace Museum Award for haiku (1998); and a Pushcart Prize nominated poet.   

He served as General Secretary of the British Haiku Society (1998-2000).

Do consider joining!

His work regularly appears in leading anthologies around the haiku genre: Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013); Haiku 2014 (Modern Haiku Press, 2014); Haiku 2015 (Modern Haiku Press, 2015); The Disjunctive Dragonfly, a New Approach to English-Language Haiku (Red Moon Press 2012); A Vast Sky, An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku (Tancho Press 2015); and Journeys 2015 - An Anthology of International Haibun (prose and haiku). ed. Dr Angelee Deodhar

NHK World TV of Japan recently featured him in Europe meets Japan - Alan’s Haiku Journey, and he regularly appears in Japanese newspapers:

"Astonishingly moving haiku" 
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (Japan) January 2005

"Widely known haiku dry as vintage champagne"
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (14 million readers in Japan) 
Part of a piece on Alan while he was in Tokyo on my birthday (16th September 2002)

Alan is Co-Editor of five Haiku-based Anthologies and four Haiku Collections, and author of the forthcoming book Writing Poetry: the haiku way (Spring 2016).  

He runs With Words, with his wife, for online courses and live events. 

Alan has been over the last twenty years: 
  • General Secretary, British Haiku Society (1998-2000)
  • Panel of Judges: Biennial Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai (Sasakawa Foundation/British Haiku Society)
  • Embassy of Japan (2009) Roving “Japan-UK 150 Haiku & Renga Poet-in-Residence” 
  • Creator and co-ordinator, The 1000 Verse Renga Project in partnership  with Bath Libraries (U.K.) and supported by the BBC Poetry Season website
  • Creator and co-ordinator, The Hull Global Renga Project in partnership with Hull Libraries/The James Reckitt Library Trust/Larkin25
  • Bath Spa University undergraduate development project Haiku Poet-in-Residence (Autumn 2006-Summer 2007)
  • Panel of Editors for the award-winning annual Red Moon Anthologies for haikai literature (2000-2005):
  • Foundation Member, Australian Haiku Society
  • a founding editor with Haijinx, showcasing humor in haiku
  • a founding editor for Bones Journal showcasing cutting-edge haiku
  • Former Renga/Renku/Linked Forms Editor, Notes from the Gean
  • moderator, Shiki-temp Forum for Matsuyama University, Japan
  • current admin and moderator, The Haiku Foundation
  • current co-moderator, British Haiku Society Members Forum