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, August 19, 2016

International online haiku courses - Individual and group feedback for haiku; tanka; haibun; and tanka stories / tanka prose


With Words is now known as "Call of the Page"

For information about our 2020 courses please do not hesitate to email Karen and Alan at:

Courses and one-to-one feedback plus Skype conversations:

Our new website:


The With Words online haiku courses, and related genres of tanka, haibun, tanka prose, and tanka stories - for September to December 2016.  

Please see details below.

With Words runs a number of online courses throughout the year:

Japanese Form Free-for-All!  

Pick your favorite Japanese form from tanka, senryu, haiku, haibun or tanka prose, and submit three times over two months.  A chance to see what your fellow writers are doing; what excites them about each form, and spread your Japanese form ‘wings'.  Optional prompt materials on inspiring subjects are offered for each assignment.

In-depth feedback is given on all work by Alan, and lesson prompts are written by Karen.

LEVEL:  intermediate; improvers.
GROUP SIZE: up to 6.
START DATE (for receipt of materials):  Monday 19th September 2016
FULL COST: £95 or US$125 
EARLY BIRD COST: £80 or US$105 (if paying by Monday 5th September 2016)
BOOKING: by payment via PayPal to


Haiku Beginners - Group Online Course

This is a new course.  

We were keen to introduce a purely entry level course, not only for people who are looking specifically to learn about writing haiku, but for those who are inspired to try this short form as a manageable way in to starting creative writing.  

With this course, we enjoy getting back to basics.  We will learn what to watch out for when reading haiku, and begin to write snippets, ready to write complete haiku by the end of the course.  

Participants should have at least three finished haiku by the end of the course, and ideas for continuing their writing.  

The course ends with an optional 20-minute phone or Skype chat with Alan to answer any outstanding questions about haiku in general or the student's work.

This is a really useful foundation course for beginners, and those who are between newcomers, beginners, and intermediate.  Highly recommended to get you grounded in what makes contemporary haiku tick!

LEVEL:  beginners at haiku, or beginners at creative writing.
GROUP SIZE: up to 6.
START DATE:  To be confirmed.  Please let us know if you would like to be put on the notification list.

Haiku - Group Online Course

This haiku course is suitable for those with some experience of either creative writing or haiku already, as it is quite advanced and technical (see below for haiku beginners). Participants submit three poems three times over the two-month course (total 9 poems) and may also add a couple of rewrite poems for final comments during that time.  The course ends with an optional 20 minute phone or Skype chat with Alan to answer any outstanding questions about haiku in general or the student's work.

LEVEL:  intermediate; improvers.
GROUP SIZE: up to 6.
START DATE (for receipt of materials):  Thursday 29nd September 2016
FULL COST: £95 or US$125 
EARLY BIRD COST: £80 or US$105 (if paying by Thursday 15th September 2016)
BOOKING: by payment via PayPal to
This particular course, Haiku - Group Online Course for intermediate and improvers is SOLD OUT!

Look out for news about the next intermediate/improvers haiku by us.


One to One Individual feedback

Feedback on your haiku on a one-to-one basis at any time, minimum booking ninety minutes.  

If you wish to book a block of hours (for instance for help with editing/creating a collection) then price reductions start with four hour bookings.

Call of the Page 
formerly known as With Words:
With Words running online courses in haiku (and other related genres) since June 2009, and in-person courses at various venues since 1999. 

Alan regularly has participants on his courses from around the world including USA; Canada; New Zealand; Australia; Singapore; Europe; U.K.; India etc…

"Thank you for your feed back. You make things seem so clear ...  So enjoyed reading the others' work too."  MB

"I have enjoyed the course tremendously and know that I will return to Alan's notes frequently as I continue to write tanka."  J

This course has been a really great experience for me. I have absorbed all the feedback and it has had an important impact on my writing.  I agree with everything Alan has said regarding my haiku and it is amazing that Alan has put his finger on every little shade and "flaw" of my haiku in such a detailed way.”  ML

“Trying to distil very personal moments and memories into a few lines is something I have never attempted before, in fact never thought of before - and for that I thank you.”  AS

“Hi Alan - thanks so much for this … I really had no idea there was so much to this art, and I'm completely fascinated. Your comments are extremely perceptive.”  MK

Alan Summers: Bio

Alan is Director/Lead Tutor of With Words, an international provider of literature, education and literacy projects, and With Words online workshops based around the Japanese genres. 

He is also the President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society:

He is the editor of the forthcoming publication:
Writing Poetry: the haiku way (2017)

He has been an expert on English-langauge haiku (and other Haikai Literature) for 25 years. Alan is a Recipient of the Japan Times Award (2002) for both haiku and renku, and the Ritsumeikan University of Kyoto Peace Museum Award for haiku (1998).

Alan is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet regularly a Teaching Artist at the USA-based Poetry Barn organisation for Haiku and Tanka, and also for Haibun (later in 2013).

Alan has been the haiku poet-in-residence for Cornell University, Mann Library:

He is a TEDx Speaker: Amazement of the ordinary- life through a haiku lens:

Alan was also invited to give a talk at Haiku News:

He is a founding editor for Bones Journal (contemporary haiku):,  and Haiku/Haibun Special Feature Editor, Lakeview International Journal of Literature and Arts.

Alan has been
•    General Secretary of the British Haiku Society (1998-2000)
•    Panel of Judges: The Biennial Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai (Sasakawa Foundation U.K. and British Haiku Society)
•    Embassy of Japan, (2009) Roving “Japan-UK 150 Haiku & Renga Poet-in-Residence”
•    Co-ordinator of The 1000 Verse Renga Project in partnership with Bath Libraries (U.K.) and supported by the BBC Poetry Season website
•    Bath Spa University undergraduate development project Haiku poet-in-residence (Autumn 2006 - Summer 2007)
•    Panel of Editors for the award-winning annual Red Moon Anthologies for best haikai literature (2000-2005)
•    Foundation Member of the Australian Haiku Society
•    a founding editor with Haijinx, showcasing humor in haiku

He was also co-founder/co-organizer, and Literature Director, of the 2010 Bath Japanese Festival.

Alan is published in around 100 haiku anthologies; and published in over fifteen languages including Japanese, and British Sign Language.

Japanese newspaper publications:
Yomiuri Shimbun; Asahi Shimbun; Mainichi Shimbun; The Japan Times; and The Mie Times.

"Astonishingly moving haiku"
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (Japan) January 2005

"Widely known haiku dry as vintage champagne"
YOMIURI SHIMBUN (14 million readers in Japan) September 2002

Anthologies include various leading haiku anthologies including the Norton poetry anthology on haiku: 

Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years ed. Jim Kacian, Allan Burns & Philip Rowland with an Introduction by Billy Collins (W. W. Norton & Company 2013)  

•    ‘Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac’  
Kodansha International, Japan, ed. William Higginson ISBN 4770020902 (1996)

•    Iron Book of British Haiku 
(Iron Press; ISBN: 0906228670 First published 1998, Third print 2000) 
•    Stepping Stones:  a way into haiku  
    (British Haiku Society, 2007, ISBN 978-0-9522397-9-6)
•    The Humours of Haiku (Iron Press 2012) ISBN 978-0-9565725-4-7

Co-Editor of various Haiku-based anthologies including:

•    Parade of Life: Poems inspired by Japanese Prints ISBN: 09539234-2-8 (Poetry Can/Bristol Museum and Art Gallery/Japan21/Embassy of Japan 2002)

•    The Poetic Image - Haiku and Photography (Birmingham Words/National Academy of Writing Pamphlet 2006)
•    Fifty-Seven Damn Good Haiku by a Bunch of Our Friends (Press Here 2010 USA) ISBN 978-1-878798-31-2 
•    Four Virtual Haiku Poets (YTBN Press 2012) ISBN-10: 1478307544 ISBN-13: 978-1478307549
•    c.2.2. an anthology of short-verse poetry and haiku (YTBN Press 2013) ISBN-10: 1479304565 ISBN-13: 978-1479304561
•    Quest Gallery Through a glass darkly catalogue with haiku section by Alan Summers (July 2012)

Four Haiku Collections: 
•    “Does Fish-God Know” (YTBN Press 2012) 

“A must-have book for any haiku fan.”
Tracey Kelly, Chicago/Bath musician/journalist

“Thank you for writing such a vital work.” 
Paul David Mena, author of Tenement Landscapes (New York) published by Happa-no-Kofu (The Leaf-Miner Press) just after September 11 2001 

•    The In-Between Season  With Words Pamphlet Series (2012)
•    Sundog Haiku Journal: an Australian Year (Sunfast Press 1997 reprinted 1998) California State Library - Main Catalog Call Number: HAIKU S852su 1997
•    Moonlighting  British Haiku Society Intimations Pamphlet Series (1996)


Tuesday, August 02, 2016

The Beat Is Back haibun (prose and haiku) inspired by Jack Kerouac and On The Road, Old Angel Midnight, and Dharma Bums, and history of haibun

Jack Kerouac poses on Sheridan Square in New York's Greenwich Village on Oct. 15, 1958, after a publisher's party for his book "The Dharma Bums." (JERRY YULSMAN/AP Photo/Jerry Yulsman)

The Beat Is Back

A man sits in an IRT Subway train reading a newspaper with a hole in it. He has hours to kill. Only a four year old looks back, and into, the newspaper hole. 

rain clouds
the train stations
come and go

It’s now night outside so he folds the newspaper, sticks it into a voluminous raincoat pocket, and decides to step off the train and leave the station. He hasn’t seen Times Square for many years, it hasn’t really changed. This is the hub of New York City where the Beat Odyssey began. 

we aren't the people 
you think 

He hunches his neck into his coat, and starts to stroll, eyeballing from side to side as he does so. The man moves past all-nite movie houses, cafeterias, and Pokerino arcades, stepping around a puddle that reflects back a giant coke bottle from an overhead sign. Neon mashes up other pools and signs.

the threatening clouds
an imaginary dog
takes a walk again

He nods reflectively to the quick-change artists, the conmen, and hustlers of every kind. This man is a broad-shouldered ex-footballer, with just a hint of a broken nose, and a scar, from a small knife, that cuts diagonally across his left cheekbone less than an inch before looping into itself. He walks the in- betweeness of virga and luminosity of front shop signs; passing soldiers; sailors; panhandlers; drifters; thieves; junkies; sportsmen; gamblers; racing touts; zoot-suiters; and the local hoods. 

threading clouds
another time
in another place

Across the way is Chase’s Cafeteria at 210 West 42nd Street, to the left of the New Amsterdam Theatre marquee, but it’s the cafeteria he enters. 

passing cars
the gleam off bare wood
on Good Friday

More hoods mill around as he shoulders the door quietly open: there’s no girls in sight, just men with red shirts or zoot-suits. 

Escher's apple escapes the mercury

There was one who stood out, selling syrettes of morphine, but was this the Virgil of The Beat Movement? He didn’t buy. 

He mooched into a booth, and nursed a coffee and whiskey for half an hour, head down. No one came over, except the waitress, to heat up the coffee with a short refill. 

different uniforms
the condensation
of all things

The place was buzzing, but not to his own particular satisfaction. He left to walk over to Bickford’s Cafeteria, on the middle block of West 42nd Street; this is where Kerouac believes the greatest stage on Times Square resides, he thought. In the window seat is a man bent around a chipped mug containing thick dark syrup, he has typical eighteen hour shadow, around his eyes, that matches the tone of his unshaven jaw line. 

someone kicks
a fridge full of things
shut again

“Mind if I join yer?” 

The window man looks up, nods, sinks back into his syrup drink, but also starts scratching his insect T-shirt. 

“You Angel, coming for me?”

“No, just a once damp hitchhiker trying to be a pocketbook poet, is that okay?” 

The bulge under his jacket was three finished notebooks, but it was good that the other cafeteria clientele of pimps, thieves, numbers men, all left him alone. It looked like a gun that could blow holes all the way through the building and hit the highway out of town. 

a time between
day, and night just left
easing tiny spaces

In the submarine light the hydrogen jukebox played across cigarette smoke and burnt coffee, and the man took out a greasy cover notebook to scratch more words inside. 

lost childhood cars moonlight a rookery

The window bum looks out of the corner of his left eye: 

Jack’s out in circular jazz time, side-stepping the Shrouded Traveller, looking for new places. Not all white doves in Chinese windows are groceries. It’s all five six seven to me. 

rainy season
one of the paper towns
gains a wrinkle

Haibun©Alan Summers
First published in the British Haiku Society's literary journal: 
Blithe Spirit 25.4 (November 2015)

Also published:
Drifting Sands—A Journal of Haibun and Tanka Prose
Issue 1 April 2020


Haibun - the practise of interspersing prose writing with haiku.  Prose pieces can be 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.

The Beat is Back haibun is part inspired by Old Angel Midnight, a long narrative poem by Jack Kerouac:

And inspired by this On The Road quote:
“Last night I walked clear down to Times Square & just as I arrived I suddenly realized I was a ghost - it was my ghost walking on the sidewalk.”
(Part.Chapter.Paragraph: II.5.4)

Jack Kerouac Reads from "On The Road"

Search results for Old Angel Midnight:

The Interborough Rapid Transit Subway, or IRT, was the first subway company in New York City. Even with elevated train lines springing up around the city, the need for an underground rapid transit railroad was obvious as a solution to street congestion and to assist development in outlying areas. On October 27, 1904, the first IRT subway line opened, and the city would never be the same.

Theme: Playing Cards - Poker

Journeys 2015 haibun anthology gives important background to haibun and examples:

Kindle version: 

Alan's bio:

Alan Summers regularly teaches online haiku group courses, and also haibun online group courses.

As Call of the Page Alan can offer haiku and tanka one-to-one sessions:

For further information email Karen:


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.