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)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Caught in the act!

looking up
above the seat in front
a child’s eyes

sunlight breaks
on a bird
and its portion of the roof

hi   wa   torini   yane   no   ibasho   ni   sosogi   keri

Trans. Hiromi Inoue
Ehime Prefecture, Japan

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


down side streets -
seagulls turning the sky
in and out

The New Haiku Snapshot Press ISBN 1-903543-03-7
Presence #10 (haiku magazine) 1999

Oppo} sunlit overlooking Park Street room

dusty lens

city café garden
a robin pecks the joints
between bricks

Oppo} has a nice little courtyard too!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

down the sidewalk
an old vagrant
with daisies in his mouth

Hobo #21
NSW, Australia 1999

bend in the road

low over the hill
a red moon waxes ...
the empty road ahead

Intimations Pamphlet Series
British Haiku Society Profile 1996

Azami 1997 Special Spring/Summer Edition
Osaka, Japan publication, Issue Editor: Alan Summers

sundog haiku journal: an australian year
sunfast press 1997 reprinted 1998
California State Library - Main Catalog Call Number : HAIKU S852su 1997

Friday, April 14, 2006

haiku poetry residency in Bristol

partial eclipse
the sky darkens then lightens
my cappuccino

I'm the Oppo} Cafe Poet in Residence and you can catch me
Thursdays & Fridays 1-2pm

Ask me about haiku & let me see any haiku you’ve written
"in a friendly haiku coffee break"
If you can stay longer, the next 5 minutes is free.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

water & rocks

three white-faced heron
to be lost to blue

Matsuyama sunset

white sails ...
a wind has also shaped
the tree

Mainichi Shimbun haiku column, Japan
June 2005

Monday, April 10, 2006

haiku competition @ the Oppo}

cabbage butterfly
in and out of nettlebeds
a girl’s laughter

Alan Summers
Publication credit: The Haiku Calendar 2000 (Snapshot Press)
Anthology credit: The Redmoon Anthology (Redmoon Press 1997)
Award credits: 
Highly Commended, Hobo Haiku International Competition (1997)
Runner-up, Snapshot Press Millennium Haiku Calendar Competition (Snapshot Press)

Saturday, April 08, 2006

inter-city train journey -
a rattling window top
shuts itself 2004
Tinywords website

Presence #15 (haiku journal) September 2001
Presence haiku journal website

Monday, April 03, 2006

Matsuo Basho's Summer Grasses

I found this hanging up on a wall in a Japanese cafe:

The summer grass -
'Tis all that's left
Of ancient warriors' dreams.

Inazo Nitobe

No mention of Basho as the author of the original Japanese poem on the poster, or that this is a translation.

When I Googled, I found that Inazo Nitobe, the famous Bushido author, did translate this, and the poster simply leaves off Basho's name as the original author.

Daily Yomiuri, Early summer rain falls, temple of light shine

Japanese Reference Site:
Summer Grasses & Samurai Glossary

"Perhaps Bashō wanted to emphasize natural growth as a force of solace and renewal – seeing the summer grasses at Hiraizumi as a reason for hope as well as melancholy; hence “deep” would perhaps seem too dark and brooding a word."
A Dream of Ruined Walls by Paul Rouzer, University of Minnesota

I personally visited the area which Basho wrote about in his Summer Grasses haiku, but alas there was no marker to the famous haiku & battle.


Summer grasses,
All that remains
Of soldiers’ dreams

ON LOVE AND BARLEY, HAIKU OF BASHO Matsuo Basho - Author, Lucien Stryk - Translator

The romanised version (romaji):

Natsukusa ya
Tsuwamonodomo ga
Yume no ato


natsu-gusa ya / tsuwamono-domo-ga / yume no ato

summer grasses (:!) / strong ones’ / dreams’ site 

(romanised version with literal English-language translation)

these summer grasses: 
the remains of warriors 
with their dreams

(English-language translation version by Alan Summers)


I feel the verses of Basho’s time can often carry a power beyond their original intention. Matsuo Bashō did what a lot of poets would want to do, and that's to visit important places, including temples and shrines, and old battle scenes. I’ve been to the battle scene this haikai verse refers, and it was still overgrown with grasses, but years later it may now be developed. The poem has often been adopted, although it was not its intention, as an anti-war or certainly not pro-war haiku.

The "warrior's dream" verse can refer to the Fujiwara clan and the samurai soldier/warrior Yoshitsune: 

In Romanised Japanese (created for English-speaking peoples mostly):

natsukusa ya tsuwamano-domo ga yume no ato

"Tsuwamono () - An old term for a soldier popularized by Matsuo Basho in his famous haiku. Literally meaning a strong person."

Ato can mean “site”; ”ruin," "trace" “track” or “aftermath.”
Yume can mean: "dream," "ambition," or “glory.”

'tsuwamonodomo' is the plural for warriors, so Basho can mean both all the soldiers involved in a specific battle as well as just one major warrior.

Summer grasses:

In actual Japanese, the haikai verse, to a Japanese haikai reader of the time, contains an incredible amount of information because the reader could fill in the gaps. 

In contemporary society (both Japan and the rest of the world) we might have to carefully juggle what readers might not know. But then again, with internet access, we need take only 2-3 seconds to learn something nowadays!

Do consider visiting this blog page:

Another Summer grasses haiku, and powerful in its context of the dawning of the industrial age in Japan is:

summer grasses—
the wheels of the locomotive
come to a stop

YAMAGUCHI Seishi (1901 - 1994)
translated by Takashi Kodaira and Alfred H. Marks

The Essence of Modern Haiku - haiku by Yamaguchi Seishi

A Sample Page of The Essence of Modern Haiku including notes plus Japanese characters and romaji:

half-empty café
she touches again
the cellophaned flowers

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Japanese street band, with Deborah Russell, American haiku poet joins me, and Visjna McMaster plus refrains from my air guitar!

boom bass-
in out of workmen’s hammers
lesser celedines

These guys were just jamming outside a Japanese shopping centre one night; they didn't play for money, just for the craic.

Deborah Russell, American haiku poet joins me, with refrains from my air guitar!

Visjna McMaster (Croatia) took the photograph.

frogs, the sign of Spring!

Photograph©Alan Summers, Japan
saigyo's willow -
the sound of purple
within a frog

haiku by Alan Summers
on the Basho trail in Japan.

her black hair
catching sunlight
on his shoulder