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)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Break in the New Year with a With Words International Online Course! Offering haibun (prose with haiku) and tanka stories (prose with tanka) in one course.

Fully Booked!

With Words International Online Course
haibun (prose with haiku) and tanka stories (prose with tanka)

On each course start date participants are sent introductory materials, and a prompt for writing for the first submission.  An early-bird rate is available on all courses, if booked and paid for by the date stated below.

Haibun (Haiku with Prose) and Tanka Stories (Tanka with Prose)

These exciting forms combine the short poems haiku or tanka with prose.  They are mostly non-fiction pieces but can also be explored as flash fiction or short stories.

Because this way of writing is so multi-layered, participants would benefit from having some good experience of either the tanka or haiku forms before taking this class.  

The submissions can be all haibun, all tanka stories, or a mixture.  

Haibun and tanka stories are varied in length (from just a few sentences, to a novella), so we don't put a word limit on individual pieces.

LEVEL:  intermediate; advanced.
GROUP SIZE: up to 4.

COST:  £100 or US$150 (early bird rate is £85 or US$130, if paying by Thursday 28th Jan)

START DATE:  Course materials are available from 31st January, and course enrolment closes February 10th, subject to available spaces.  

The first submission date is February 15th

To book:

Please email, confirming the course. 

Course fees can then be sent by PayPal to 

Your place is confirmed with payment.  

Many thanks, and we hope to see you soon!

Karen and Alan, With Words.

Haibun is incredibly popular to both writers and readers, and this anthology reached no. 2 at Amazon and remained in the top ten for some considerable time.

Journeys 2015 is available in both Kindle and in print across Amazon websites.

Amazon USA for example:

Kindle (US$4.75):

Print (US$20):

Tanka stories (also known as "tanka prose") is also gaining great popularity!


Friday, January 08, 2016

Alan Summers - haiku collected and updated for 2016 in the world's largest database for haiku: The Living Haiku Anthology

A selection of my haiku has been updated to give a cross section from 1994 to January of this year:

From the romantic:

The Night Train

of paper rock scissors

you sleep into me
Anthology Credit: c.2.2. Anthology of short-verse ed. Brendan Slater & Alan Summers
(Yet To Be Named Free Press 2013)

To undertones of Greek mythology:

night of small colour

a part of the underworld

becomes one heron
Publication Credit: Modern Haiku Vol. 45.2  Summer 2014
Anthology credit: Haiku 2015 (Modern Haiku Press, 2015)

And other old tales:

old tales
moon-bright leaves
jostle the breeze
Publication Credit:
Wild Plum 1:1 (Spring & Summer 2015)

Dreams, childhood, magic, the battle torn, train journeys, and when we are graced, the love of birdsong, love and pain, and more:

the topography
of tears
Publication Credit: Edge - BHS Anthology 2015

And the sheer beauty of natural scenery where we like being made to feel small, and in awe:

far off Helvellyn snow the nouns of verbs 
Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (2015)


Sunday, December 13, 2015

all those red apples | travelling the monorail - haiku travelling in one line - one line haiku aka monostich aka monoku

photo©Alan Summers

all those red apples | travelling the monorail
haiku travelling in one line
by Alan Summers

A lot has been said, and will continue to be said about one line haiku aka the monostich or the monoku, and here is my added piece regarding techniques, devices, and examples.

A longer version will appear in a new anthology next year with examples from both established and very new writers in the haiku publishing world, and in my book-in-progress “Writing Poetry: the haiku way”.

One of many devices I employ is the abrupt method of syntax: It's a deliberate subvert technique, as I’ve keenly noticed that both syntax and semantics can be utlised in a manner not possible or accepted in normal modes of writing, and certainly not in the classic/traditional way of writing haiku in the English language (EL).   

Japanese-language haiku themselves are actually one-line haiku, vertically written, and when read in transliteration rather than translation into English, they do not work in a linear English language manner, but carry their own power outside of attempts to translate them into a translator’s version of smooth English grammar and syntax.

So why not use that power for English Language haiku into one line?

It’s also been said that if it's a one-line haiku you are aiming for, that they work best when they cannot be remade into three line haiku.  I’m not sure that’s always the case, but it’s a useful guideline to go by, or work around.

I'd suggest introducing "abruptions" aka abruptive methods, as one method which is my term for breaking up normal syntax/semantics.


Abruptive techniques is my term for sharp changes in directing the reader, and I often subvert the adjective 'abruptive' into a noun i.e. look for abruptives in your haiku.

Abruptive: suddenly disruptive
Urban Dictionary
abruptive (adjective) : showing a tendency to be abrupt

abruptitude (noun) : the quality of extreme suddenness
Ryan Muller
“Sometimes one-line haiku are, or appear to be, a little subversive in order to tell a greater truth. If it's too smooth it could be just a line of poetry, or a statement.”
Alan Summers, With Words


Jim Kacian touches on this:

"Multiple stops yield subtle, rich, often ambiguous texts which generate alternative readings, and subsequent variable meanings.
Each poem can be several poems, and the more the different readings cohere and reinforce each other, the larger the field occupied by the poem, the greater its weight in the mind.”

walking among old stone cattle out in the rain

Jim Kacian

Extract from The Way of One by Jim Kacian (Roadrunner X-2 -July 2010 ISSN 1933-7337)

The one-line haiku in English is perhaps the speedier cousin and its velocity, rather than for slow thoughtful pauses can be the various qualities to one-line haiku, whether the author wants them read rapidly or a little slower, and here we touch on just some of those where velocity with quality of language as sound, not just meaning and content, can play its part, and produce from velocity and quality something I will call veloquality.

We can have either multiple interpretations or misreadings and misdirections, as well as thoughtful verses that lead you to places you didn’t know about.

One line haiku can appear in varous guises but always need to contain some aspects of: The gaps between the fragmentary sections of haiku

Does one-line haiku echo the one line image of the fragment/section and phrasal (two line imagery) sections that creates sparks, bringing together an altogether different and extra overall image? Or does it do something different to the technique of juxtaposing imagery?  

Above all it’s the invisible text that counts as much as the visible text, as a catalyst for everything, including the vertical layers of alternative, additional, and complementary meanings from the horizontal surface meaning.  

Haiku is like the Tardis, it appears small at a first glance, but when you walk through its doors, it’s bigger on the inside:

Here are just a few of my one line haiku travelling the monorail over the years from 1995 to 2015:

train sitting:facingpeoplei’drathernot   

Publications credits: Raw NerVz (Summer 1995)

crowded train a dozen yellows crackle

Publication Credits: Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)
ISBN-10: 1479211044 / ISBN-13: 978-1479211043

ground zero into the new friend's story

Alan Summers
Publications credits:
Masks 4 (Roadrunner 12.3 – December 2012); in fear of dancing: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2013 ISBN: 978-1-946848-24-9;  Haiku 2014 ed. Scott Metz & Lee Gurga (Modern Haiku Press, 2014) 

this small ache and all the rain too robinsong

Alan Summers
Publications credits: Modern Haiku vol. 44.1 winter/spring 2013

the blue note I turn to wind-spun snow

Alan Summers
Publication Credits:  
Blithe Spirit 23.4 (November 2013): The Haiku Calendar 2015 (Snapshot Press, 2014)

Award Credit: Runner-up, The Haiku Calendar Competition 2014

all those red apples amongst the blue tit

Publications credits: Bones - a journal for contemporary haiku Issue 0.1 2012 reissued 2013; Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012); Roadrunner 12.3 MASKS 4 (2012)

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)

tearing up snow falls slowly a kind of blue

Publication Credit:  Bones - a journal for contemporary haiku No. 3 (December 15, 2013)

Red Sea beat my heart still hydrozoa

Publication Credits: Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012)

petrichor this green sunsets in yesterday

Publication Credits: Does Fish-God Know (YTBN Press 2012)

intermittent rain I shed another crow 

Publication Credits: Frogpond autumn 2013 issue (36:3)

irezumi the river coils into heron

Publication Credits: Frogpond autumn 2013 issue (36:3)

nautiluses who remember useful things for only a day

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

long hard rain my compass your true north

Publications credits: Frogpond 36.1 • 2013

h=k=l=0 each love number sleeps

Publications credits: Bones - a journal for contemporary haiku Issue 0.1 2012 reissued 2013; Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012)

rain on the river the jesus star shifting

Publications credits: Janice M Bostok Haiku Prize 2012 Anthology Evening Breeze

sloe-eyed horses in Lichtenstein bubble gum wrappers

Publication Credits: Roadrunner 12.3 MASKS 4

giallo this restricted area my birthplace

Publications credits: 
bones journal Pre issue - Single haiku & Sequences (2012); Does Fish-God Know (Yet To Be Named Free Press 2012)

city of glass the immobilised man small stone counting

Publication Credits: Blithe Spirit 23.3 (August 2013)

Publications credits:
fox dreams (April 2012) ed. Aubrie Cox

blues change the colour rain

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

ants following invisible trials the children

Alan Summers
Publication Credits: Modern Haiku  issue 44:3 (2013)

n.b. The word 'trials' is intentional, a case of subverting the expected, as in readers expecting 'trails' but 'trials' suggests a deeper context.


wildflowers adding a little evening to the daylight

Publication Credit:  Presence #52 (2015) 

dandelion wind swallows spin a chimney

Publication Credit: Presence #53 2015 

green alkanet between the whispers rain

Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)

I dream of swimming office blocks

Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)


Publication Credit: 
sequence: Bones - journal for contemporary haiku no. 7 July 15th 2015

small-hours-train the pink suitcase of moon shadows

Publication Credit: Brass Bell September 2015 Issue: One-Line Haiku:

Escher's apple escapes the mercury

Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)
From the haibun
The Beat Is Back

lost childhood cars moonlight a rookery

Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)
From the haibun
The Beat Is Back

far off Helvellyn snow the nouns of verbs 

Publication Credit: Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)

I once was this stone home for another

Publication Credit: 
Bones - journal for contemporary haiku no. 7 July 15th 2015

dragonfly army I slip off the skins of men in pain

Publication Credit: 
Bones - journal for contemporary haiku no. 7 July 15th 2015

Unforgiving rain I write my next epitaph in a dream

Publication Credit: Asahi July 31 2015

a red kite whistles haymaking tractors

Publication Credit: Muttering Thunder, volume 2 (November 2015)

photo©Alan Summers

all those red apples | travelling the monorail
haiku travelling in one line©Alan Summers 2014-2015

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,