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)

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

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!

Friday, June 08, 2018

Haiku: The Keyhole Of Its Details David Briggs, with Alan Summers

photo©Alan Summers 2018

Haiku: The Keyhole Of Its Details
David Briggs, with Alan Summers

AS: “I set David Briggs a challenge to talk about haiku, and write a few from my Slip-Realism criteria.”

DB: For me, the importance of haiku in Anglophone poetry lies not so much in discussion of the form’s metrical convention, or of what haiku is, but –– rather –– in what it does. And that is to hold our eye to the keyhole of its details, such that we see through its language into, well, the sublime. It’s that haiku feeling, that ‘stop-time’ moment, that ability of a perfectly-compressed image to cause a sudden shift in our way of seeing: to make us see through the slats of the outhouse door. Everest; or, the late-morning, many-angled sunlight reaching out to touch a bowl of cherries; perhaps, Autumn walking purposely through a cemetery.

Ideally, every well-turned image in a poem should aspire to recreate in the reader that hiaku feeling, and nowhere more so than at the ends of stanzas, the ends of poems. I want the end of a poem I write to leave an echoey silence like the few seconds of loudless sound following an organ crescendo that’s been suddenly cut short in a cathedral.

Many poets sine Pound have found haiku (and tanka) to be effective materials to use as the building blocks of a poem. Matthew Caley has used tanka to great effect in poems like ‘Between Women’ and ‘Squibs’, in his third collection “Apparently” (Bloodaxe, 2010), and the poem ‘Serendipity Ode’, from his second book, could be read as renku, a haiku sequence, with the unusual addition of a rhyming (or near-rhymed) final word in each stanza. Here a are a few of my highlights from that poem:

would us believe
silence is a form of neurosis.

By cruel decree
the High Queen made a dozen servants weave
six neckties and six nooses.

Mohammed Ali
was a wicked blur of gloves––
part burning bush, part Moses.

when Rimbaud had his leg removed
it sprouted roses.

By way of personal example, the opening poem in my first collection, ‘Twenty Below Zero’, might aslo be viewed (if I’m generous to myself) as a short sequence of ‘found’ haiku hiding in a ten-line poem:

After reaching the peninsula
we received a silver bullet,
edges flecked with powder, as a gift.

Steam from Turkish coffee
syrupped through our window
in the marbled night.

Wrapped in bear pelts we huddled
on the stone floor, turning it over
in our hands, memorising duels

we had fought on our way to the sea.

Similarly, in a poem called ‘Drought’ there’s another three-line sequence where I tried to compress an image in a style similar to that required of haiku:

Dust nourishing nothing;
swarming lightly through summer,
its porch steps and orange groves.

Here the kigo (or season word), “summer”, which is typically verdant, is given a different context, so as to set up the end of the poem wherein the protagonist, dust, keeps

expanding its Empire of Nil
among wheatrows, in gutters, in pithcraters.
Rain is either hearsay, or heresy.

The more I consider my poetry, the more I realise that I’m trying to build a body of poems structured around a series of interlocking, imagist tercets and couplets, striving always for a deft use of the down-stroke that’ll evoke that haiku feeling. To give a final example, at the end of a poem about the alarming number of suicides from Clifton Suspension Bridge, near where I live, I wanted to evoke the forces that compel people to such desperate straits, be they economic, familial, psychological, psychriatric, or whatever. The poem, which speaks to the reader in the second-person voice, describes the ‘you’ it’s addressing as having been drawn to the bridge, as though by a magnet, late at night, only to intone:

understand, finally,
that no-one jumps:
everyone is pushed.

It isn’t descriptive, it’s probably closer to being a moral or aphorism, and it breaks the haiku principle of presenting a moment without commentary, but I was trying, in haiku, to invoke a moment of altered perception through the detonation of a tightly-compressed grenade of language.

You’ll have your own views on whether or not I’m getting anywhere close but, hopefully, you’ll see why I think that haiku is, in many ways, the essence of poetry. Somehow, it’s what we’re all striving for, whether we know it or not.

wind gusts on Smallwater, 
a skein of ashes, 
mother and son turning home

David Briggs

AS: “It’s a beautiful haiku in those last two lines:

a skein of ashes,
mother and son
turning home

Allegorical yet literal, a flight of geese, and a person’s funereal ashes. We don’t need to know more:  It’s very incompleteness is heartbreakingly full of hope. I tingle reading those lines, and remain undecided over your original or my suggested version though I’m veering towards the original.”

unspooling whisk and tick
of a fishing fly loosed
at riverine shadows -
thought swims off downstream

“We often leave out words and phrases that another kind of poet would and should keep, and why not? I feel, on a personal level, that haiku works to enable readers differently. Haiku, to me, revolve around something like a wheel with its spaces between its spokes, and it’s those gaps that add to the particular counter-intuitive poem, to some, as its design (form).

For example:

unspooling whisk and tick
of a fishing fly loosed
at riverine shadows -
thought swims off downstream

Riverine shadows, a wonderful phrase adding to a hauntingness that haiku can be so good at as well.”

David Briggs added to this discussion recently (Friday 15th June 2018) by saying:

"I think I’ve already said, during our earlier conversation, most of what I’ve thought about the place of haiku in my writing practice, but I do think I should emphasise the importance of your editorial eye in shaping the ‘fishing-fly’ poem that appeared on Troutswirl

As anyone can see from the last part of the interview that produced the poem, my initial version is more cluttered with detail, with clusters of sound-words like “whisk and tick”, and with the added complexity of the metaphor in the final line. It’s just busier all round. And I think that’s pretty distinctive of my writing generally. 

Your stripped back (and I think superior) version shows me the value of letting in some air and some space. Of really stripping back to the essence of the image. Maybe, when I’m struggling with a line or section of a poem, it would be a good idea to imagine that it’s going to be carved in stone. Then I think I’d consider just how necessary each word really is. Perhaps this is the best discipline that haiku can teach any writer?"

David Briggs received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2002. His first collection The Method Man (Salt Modern Poets, 2010) was shortlisted for the London Festival New Poetry Award. His second collection Rain Rider (Salt Modern Poets, 2013) is a winter selection of the Poetry Book Society.  

David Briggs is currently (2018) the Bristol Poetry Institute poet-in-residence, Faculty of Arts, University of Bristol:

Haiku: The Keyhole Of Its Details (David Briggs, with Alan Summers)

Published: Blithe Spirit 25:3 (British Haiku Society, 2015)


Welcome to re:Virals, The Haiku Foundation’s weekly poem commentary feature on some of the finest haiku ever written in English. 

This week’s poem was:

a fishing fly loosed
at riverine shadows
David Briggs
Haiku: The Keyhole of its Details, Blithe Spirit 25:3 (2015)