Online internet courses by Call of the Page

Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address:
We will let you know more about these courses.

Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Workshop: Alan Summers 'Foraging for Haiku!' - ginko (haiku writing walk)

ducks©Alan Summers 2018

Alan Summers and Karen Hoy will be at the Poetry Swindon Festival 2018 event!

Foraging for Haiku with Alan Summers 
Sunday 7th October 1-3 pm 


In this indoor/outdoor event, haiku expert Alan Summers will guide you on a "haiku writing walk" or ginko. 

The notes collected will form the basis of your own haiku poems for workshopping back at the Museum. 

We will start with Alan reading a number of his haiku, and deconstructing these shortest of poems to show how each originated with his observations of life and the environment. 

We'll then all go on a haiku walk, known as a ginko in Japan, and make our own observations and field notes as raw ingredients for our own haiku. 

A relaxed workshop follows, where Alan, alongside Karen, will lead you through editing and splicing your notes to create an original, resonant haiku of your own.

If you wonder what myself, and Karen, look like, and what a ginko is, check ten minutes into the video, where this walk, back in 2015 was set in Bradford on Avon:

BOOKING for the Swindon Ginko!:
Go to Eventbrite to get your tickets!

Here's a series of screenshots for the festival payment process if you haven't used this system before:

Click onto   Tickets   which is top right (see screenshot photo below):

Then scroll down until you find my workshop details (screenshot photo below):

Or go straight to the individual workshop list and other info:

Click where it says 0 and a downward arrow to give you this:

Once you have selected the number of tickets you want to buy you'll see the green box saying

Click onto Checkout...

And this page will come up, and you have your various choices of payment from credit card to PayPal etc...

Swindon is in the South West of England, nestled into Wiltshire:

About Alan (on the left):

We also run online courses, sign up for news!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Through the invisible holes in reality is where poetry makes its way for us.

Not to Scale! by Alan Summers 2018
Through the invisible holes in reality is where poetry makes its way for us.

“When power corrupts, poetry cleanses,” 
John F. Kennedy said this when looking at the poet Robert Frost and his role in life.

I wonder if poetry is a curious and private combination of a refuge from the media dominated promotion of the ills in life; and a way for anyone and everyone to claim their own voice, either by adopting certain artists, or even creating your own art.

Adrienne Rich wrote:
“It is through [the] invisible holes in reality that poetry makes its way,” 
and haiku, despite its smallness, has been adopted by more people than perhaps any other art-form. But all art matters, even if we don’t like it, it’s someone’s voice being heard despite the filtering out of the type of news that matters in an everyday kind of way.

Does it matter if we cannot understand everything in art all at once? Much of the art that was not understood, or even liked in its time, has often found its way into the hearts of more and more people over the decades.

When we look for a voice, and find it is not always represented well, both in the media, the business world (although they often ‘borrow’ from art to sell their message and products), and in politics. 

political election
my application to be
a) human

Alan Summers

Anthology credit: naad anunaad: an anthology of contemporary international haiku 
ed. Shloka Shankar, Sanjuktaa Asopa, Kala Ramesh (India, 2016)

Sometimes we don’t know if we are being slowly diminished or not, which is why I often appreciate the biographical approach to haiku.

Haiku (plural spelling too) can be triggered by just the smallest of things in a day, but set the record by which we might remember a few more “other moments” too.

As a writing challenge set by Kathy Munro about our sense of place I wrote this haiku:

Atlas Mountains
the snow-capped peaks
in every sunrise

Alan Summers
A Sense of Place: MOUNTAIN – sight ed. KJ Munro (August 2018, The Haiku Foundation)

Early in 2018 myself and Karen went on a simple budget/package holiday to Morocco. What we didn’t expect was a view, a whole vista it seemed, of the legendary Atlas Mountains from our tiny room balcony. Every day from sun up to sun down I would pop out onto the little balcony, or even just glance through the room windows. Although it was Winter in Marrakech (Morocco) it was still a surprise to see snow in the distance, as some of us automatically think of anywhere in Africa being hot.

The view was an incredible and humbling gift, as much as the package offers were great, and instantly brings back a multitude of memories. No institution, be it the media, politics, or big business can give that, just the mountains, and my haiku poem, and my voice.

The poem can be read both simply, and in other ways, and directly experiencing that week of a spectacular part of the hotel room into a single tiny three line verse. 

In our complicated lives, whether we invite those complications or not, I find a few seconds refuge in observing local wildlife. It could be the sparrows that nest in our roof, or the visits by jackdaws, robins, or representatives of the titmice family. Sometimes going back to nature can enrich us, and perhaps reset us...

baby robins
the world is reset
for a moment

Alan Summers
Publication credit: Presence issue #61 (2018)

the big warm ...
as if clouds cuddled
baby sparrows

Publication credit: Mainichi Shimbun (July, 2018)

banditry of titmice 
the long-tails fleeting 
through the air 

“banditry” is a collective noun for titmice 

Anthology credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2018: Year of the Bird  
pub. The Haiku Foundation

backroom banter... 
house sparrows solving 
our world’s problems 

Alan Summers

Anthology credit: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2018: Year of the Bird  
pub. The Haiku Foundation

the scent of rain
birdsong stretches
as far as Mars

Alan Summers

Anthology credits:
  • Yamadera Basho Memorial Museum Selected Haiku Collection (Japan 2017)
  • A-Z List of Children’s Poets 2018 ed. Liz Brownlee

For those in the U.K. not too far from us we are planning a special ginko (haiku and walk) event. If you’d like to be added to our mailing list (we don’t email too much) then you can sign up to our Newsletter:

from Alan & Karen

Friday, July 27, 2018

Newsletter feature and online haiku, tanka, haibun courses 2018 and into the New Year of 2019 including Skype one to ones that are becoming popular


We are, we are!
The Spectrum of Haiku and Senryu is going to be an interesting exploration of how and where and why and when we write, and how both of these genres can impact on each other in a good way:

Newsletter & other things!

Karen is working behind the scenes of the Call of the Page website, on a lot of exciting features. If you'd like to be notified when something exciting has just appeared, we've now added a newsletter feature for you to sign up, if you so desire!

jackdaws©Alan Summers 2018
Newsletter sign up:

Skype plus courses!

We will also be running tanka and haibun courses and making announcements of other events too. For one to one Skype calls proving more and more popular, you can contact us for more information too. 

Look forward to hearing from you!

To hear back from Karen, email:

About Alan & Karen:

Forthcoming Haiku Courses

click onto

photograph July 2018 bright sunlight bouncing off a mute swan, River Avon, Chippenham©Alan Summers

We currently have the following haiku courses scheduled:

- The Spectrum of Haiku and Senryu starting Thursday September 6th 2018:

There are some difficult questions in the universe. 

One of them is sometimes "Is this poem a haiku or a senryu?" 

Despite clear intended differences in the form it can sometimes seem impossible to nail down.

The answer perhaps is that there is a spectrum of haiku and senryu. In this course we'll attempt to write intentionally at "both ends of the spectrum", and at points along it, with an awareness of where we are between the genres.

Participants receive introductory materials at the start of the course, and are asked to submit two poems (a haiku and a senryu) in three sessions over two months (total six poems). 

Detailed feedback will be given by the tutor on the poem itself, and on the extent to which it presents as either a haiku or a senryu.
The course operates by email, with participants reading Alan's commentary on each others' poems as well as their own in a group learning process.

Full Cost: £95 (approximately US$121)

Early Bird Rate: £85 (approximately US$109) if booking by Thursday August 30th 2018.

Apart from the cost savings of booking early, please note, our class sizes are small and often fill out a day or so before the early bird rate closes. Thank you!

The Paypal button is on the web page:

Forthcoming courses:
- Introducing... Haiku!, starting Thursday January 3rd 2019.
- The Sound of Haiku, starting Thursday January 10th 2019.
Booking for these courses opens shortly!

For details on how to enrol and book a place, and for the Paypal button:

We will also be running tanka and haibun courses and making announcements of other events too.

For one to one Skype calls proving more and more popular, you can contact us for more information too. 

Look forward to hearing from you!

To hear back from Karen, email:

About Alan & Karen:

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What is "senryu" again? Commentary and results of two senryu competitions - the sibling genre of haiku

manga portrait & text©Alan Summers

Not one, but two senryu competitions!  

As President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society I made a short commentary on the first placed verse, and as the Sonic Boom judge for senryu, scroll further down, I was able to write up a report on all the placed/winning senryu entries.

Intrigued by senryu? Karen is working hard on a number of online courses including one on senryu. Please check regularly for updates here: 

The two web links to the contests!

(July 2018)

Please visit the wonderful publication of Sonic Boom in general too!


The “AHA” Haiku/Senryu Contest (Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards) Results
(June 2018):

As President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, I added a commentary on the first placed verse, in addition to the wonderful comments by Debbi Strange.

Here’s my President’s commentary:
The “AHA” Haiku/Senryu Contest (Annual Hortensia Anderson Memorial Awards) Results
Alan Summers
President, United Haiku and Tanka Society

What is a senryu?  
There is always an exciting and ongoing debate about that, and whether it is even a separate genre. I certainly see the senryu approach as a useful reminder that, as beautiful as haiku can be, we often need a short sharp verse that highlights aspects, and can act as checks and balances within our current society. 

I wish I could add commentaries to all the wonderful poems, thank goodness Debbie has done that for us. I can certainly empathise with this senryu by Jay Friedenberg, that stayed with the judges. The idea of working out all the numbers and ramifications of those who have died since humans entered this world must be unimaginable, whether by natural causes or other means. 

Leopold Kronecker (1823 – 1891) said: 
“God made the integers; all else is the work of man.” 

And those integers are part of the mathematics we may have learnt in school. Natural numbers are 1, 2, 3, 4,… where we simply add 1 to the previous number to get more, and more. We do use the zero symbol as a placeholder, “10” for example, as well as in the millions, and billions. If we accept “nothing” can be like a number, it’s possible to go even further. The concept appears in our regular lives, such as when you spend more money than you have, so our financial balance is negative, less than 0. Unfortunately we can’t see these negative numbers, but we can do calculations with them. So if we have real numbers, what are irrational numbers? They are those numbers which can’t be written as fractions. 

Yet in war, that is often the case, with the chilling example of the Deadly Blue Pencil when documents were manually cut and pasted, and a blue pencil chosen as it was not visible when finally photographed. At a meeting with Winston Churchill, the British prime minister, he watched as Stalin take out his blue pencil to make a large tick approving a “percentages agreement” for the division of Europe after the war, at an untold cost to human life, even after the war.

So Jay Friedenberg’s extraordinary senryu immediately reminded me of this (in)famous haiku:


war dead 
exit out of a blue mathematics

     -- Sugimura Seirinshi (trans. Richard Gilbert and Itō Yūki)

When I read Debbie Strange’s commentary again, I get even more chills down my body.  

But not all senryu are required to be as potentially unnerving as the almost casual approach to statistics, as above, in and out of war, and peacetime. In fact the remaining senryu and haiku are just as powerful, and just as important, in their own ways. 

I am so incredibly grateful for all the entries, whether ‘placed’ or not.

The full report can be read here:
Judges: Grant Savage and Debbie Strange
Commentary: Debbie Strange

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

“Being Human - the ordinary intensity” a look at senryu, the sibling of haiku, a contest, and a very funny checklist!

“Being Human - the ordinary intensity” a look at senryu, the sibling of haiku

I don't often accept offers to judge, but I couldn't resist this senryu contest!

For full submission details, information and examples:

When we compose haiku we might worry about ticking the right boxes for people, but with senryu we can breathe out, and untick them! 

So what am I looking for? 
Any topic, and any approach to that topic. 
I'm open to styles, and after all it's just one senryu that you send, and it's free!

何歳に, 見えるか競う, クラス会

Nansai ni
Mieru ka kisou

the class reunion
where we compete to see
who looks youngest

English translation by Alan Summers

The best list of differences between haiku and senryu ever, and it’s funny too!!!

From the book “Let’s start right now! The easiest text book of haiku and senryu”  
(これから 始める俳句‧川柳いちばんやさしい入門書
© Takeshi Mizuno, and Saki Kono (神野紗希
This above check-list is also on pages 44-45, where the list and an interview help determine whether you lean more towards haiku or towards senryu. Maybe both, why not!

Go to Page 39 for the start of the brilliantly helpful interview.
Musings over the hodgepodge: Interview with takeshi Mizuno

From another senryu expert:
"The basic theme is anxiety," Sanryu Bito says, who edits the current events senryu column for Yomiuri Shimbun.

He then mentions that senryu can tackle the fear of firing, and of parents' worries over children whose expensive educations have not helped them land jobs.  He heads the Japan Senryu Pen Club. Senryu, which was born in the 18th century, has a mass following in the popular press. Like manga, the Japanese comic books, senryu gets little critical respect but has its finger on the pulse of modern Japan.

Shall I do it now?
Shall I do it after lunch?
Is it already 5?

Back to Takeshi Mizuno and he says:
One of senryu’s principles is that «nature can be like people». 

For example, here is one of his senryu:


I like flowers 
they never ask 
for a loan 

One I posted today onto the Australian Haiku Society website kukai challenge, with this prompt of ‘seeing the world with a child’s eyes’

converted dollhouse
her astronaut’s eyes
filling with starlight 

Alan Summers

Alan, checking out all sides of himself!

I fail to be taken seriously by Karen, thankfully!