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)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Purely Haiku Residential Course at Claridge House

New website!


A unique residential writers' course 
and Retreat  led by Alan Summers
Monday May 21st - Friday 25th 2012 

Claridge House, Surrey, 
Dormans Road
Surrey RH7 6QH

South East England
(just outside London)

For enquiries and booking information
Phone: 01342 832150
Phone: 0845 3457281

Monday fab tea and home-made cakes afternoon 
to Friday morning scrumptious breakfast

A gentle immersive course where we study what makes a haiku poem, and how to write them. Using Classic and Contemporary haiku examples from Japan and other countries, we will learn that our own experiences can become haiku poetry, and act as an important record of our life.  

*[more about haiku poetry at the end of the page]

"I think that's a brilliant price. It's a bargain for what you are offering."
Annie Bachini (former President of the British Haiku Society)

The Purely Haiku Course details:

 There may be some people who think, I know what haiku is, do I need a short residential course?

The answer is yes!  

photo©Rosee aka ridlydidlysventures

It is surprising just how much there is to learn about haiku and how the enjoyment can be tripled, quadrupled even.

photo©Rosee aka ridlydidlysventures

The residential course starts Monday late afternoon after scrumptious teas and coffees, cakes and biscuits, in a leisurely get to know each other before we get to any workshopping at all. 

There's just the one session on Monday, and then relaxed sessions throughout Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

The course is as relaxed and leisurely as you'd personally like,  or can be stepped up to your individual needs.  

The main thing is that I'm there to work hard for you, with gentle prompts and workshop exercises, with encouraging lively, engaging, inclusive group discussion and feedback.

Find out about these mysterious terms in a relaxed atmosphere:
kigo; kireji; gendai; shasei; juxtaposition and disjunctive methods; and how to make concrete images stand out, and even come across as lyrical in so short a poem, and help improve your other writing styles.

For those new to haiku 
it will be a delightful introduction

for those who know a little about haiku 
it will be an astonishing journey to find out just how much more there is to know and enjoy.

For those who are seasoned poets and regularly published in haiku magazines 
this is a chance to work on a body of work that can be submitted to various magazines, and become a cornerstone of your first or next collection.

photo©Anne Simpson
we always conclude the course with a fun renga party* 
and a souvenir Haiku Journal notebook with our renga verses, and exchange of haiku from each other!

Friday is breakfast and saying goodbyes and hopefully staying in touch!

Alan Summers has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and he is a past General Secretary of the British Haiku Society.

He is a Japan Times award-winning writer for haiku and renga, and was awarded a Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto Peace Museum Award for haiku.

Alan is an experienced workshop leader, and editor (for two magazines), for haiku and other haikai literature disciplines. He has appeared in literary festivals, and readings, all over Britain. 

Alan’s 1000 verse renga city-wide projects have been supported by local councils and libraries, and reported on by the BBC’s Poetry Season.

Comments from previous haiku and renga workshops:

--> "Very many thanks again for all your constant and splendid help, support and patience.  I am well aware of the fact that I wouldn't be having such an amazing journey with my haiku if wasn't for you."

student, SW England, October 2011

"As you probably know by now, I use every corner of my life as a way of reflection of my psychological personal development - haiku in itself is great for this, but working with you has just elevated the experience a 100 fold.  I can not put into words how much this has meant to me, so as I tried to say on the phone the haiku is almost secondary, but of course both mean a lot to me.  Your support over the last couple of years or so have just been such an amazing gift to me - bless you." 

student, SW England, September 2011
"we really enjoyed the renga was a very intensely creative act, and I was really struck by the renga form itself, what it could be capable of...a whole new poetic energy" 
Mark, University of Winchester

"Thanks again for a wonderful poetry session."
Yu Yan, U.S. citizen currently visiting England

"I just wanted to thank you again for such a great event...I want to do some more!"
Susan, Plymouth

"Thanks so much for yesterday's renga event - it was fantastic! Really got the creative juices flowing. Let me know when the next one is, I will definitely attend!" Tracey, Bath

"Looks like I missed a fantastic event..I hope to be at the next one."
Caroline, Bristol (she was!)

"More! More!" Libby, Bristol

"It is so tempting to get involved in renku/renga with all the excitement you...generate."  
Melinda, USA

By the way, did I mention the food?  

It's out of this world!  Good traditional food created by a kitchen staff morning breakfast, day (lunch) and night (dinner) who also provide us with tea/coffee/non-caffeine drink breaks through the day with superb cakes and biscuits!

The food is really amazing, and I can vouch for that as my background was in the family restaurant business.

We've had first timers to haiku as well as seasoned haiku writers attending, and everyone benefits from the atmosphere, and doesn't need to lift a finger to have food and liquid refreshments.

The vegetarian and vegan food, covers all dietary needs,
non-wheat, non-dairy etc... and is fantastic.

Plenty of organised tea, coffee, non-caffeine hot drinks, cold drinks,
homemade cakes, lots of biscuits including non-gluten and non-wheat etc...

This is our second time with Purely Haiku, and the whole experience is excellent value, and it isn't just for the price of the course, but superb food, accomodation, being catered for throughout the day etc...

*What is haiku?

"Today it may be possible to describe haiku but not to define it." Hiroaki Sato: Author; Columnist; and Editor of "One Hundred Frogs: From Matsuo Basho to Allen Ginsberg"

"There are as many descriptions of haiku as there are stars in the night sky: this is mine." Alan Summers, founder of With Words.

An English-language haiku is often written in three short lines and read out loud in about six seconds. 'Haiku' is the singular and plural spelling, there's no 'haikus'.

They're written in the present tense, in ordinary language, and work well as two different images that spark off each other.

It's good to include one or more senses such as sound, smell, taste or touch, and not just what we can see.

Haiku don't tell, or merely describe, they allow the reader to enter the poem in their own way.

They are ideal for non-fiction observations as a kind of short-hand for remembering events or incidents.

They can be therapeutic and they exercise both the right and the left side of the brain.

Traditionally haiku are rooted in natural history and the seasons, and make us conspirators with wildlife, as nature half-writes the haiku before we've even put pen to paper.

Haiku have a seasonal clue called kigo in Japanese. Obvious season words are snow for winter; and heatwave for summer; but you could use less obvious kigo like beer for summer, and Orion or Orion's Belt for winter.

Where does haiku come from?

Haiku evolved from a "first verse" called hokku; they often look incomplete as they originated from a linked verse poem where the first verse (hokku) was finished by the second verse and then the second verse was completed by the third verse and so on.

'Hokku' held a special place in the multi-poet-multi-linking-verse-poem known as renga, or renku, which enjoyed a renaissance in 17th Century Japan: people started collecting them, as not all the composed hokku, on the day could be chosen to start off the renga.

Japanese writers began to adapt foreign literary techniques into their poetry as Japan in the late 18th century, when it was opened up to the West. Journalist, writer, and poet Masaoka Shiki took full advantage when he officially made hokku an independent poem in the 1890s and called them "haiku" (singular and plural spelling) bringing this poem into the 20th Century.

Alan Summers (2009)



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