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)

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Praniti Gulyani

Praniti Gulyani’s first haiku collection ‘The Dust Still Holds A Fingerprint’ 
is published by John E WordSlinger's PoetryTrain 

I’m proud to be able to say that I suggested the book title which the author loved!

From my foreword to the book, here is how I sum up this up and coming new poet:

This is an excellent debut collection of haiku, and I heartily recommend it for everyone of all ages. The work is precise and incisive showcasing the skills and craft from such a young voice.”

Alan Summers
co-founder of the creative writing consultancy Call of the Page
President, United Haiku and Tanka Society

And now I hand you over to Praniti Gulyani herself!

I come from the heart of India, the capital city – New Delhi. I was introduced to haiku by the poet Kala Ramesh in 2017,  I have been obsessing over the form ever since.

A few months after venturing into haiku, I developed an interest in haibun, a 400 year old art. I would like to begin my feature by quoting a haiku from each of my two mentors: Kala Ramesh and Paresh Tiwari who have guided me through haiku and haibun respectively. These two haiku can be seen as the absolute inspiration which led me to haikai poetry.

fireflies . . .
for a while my garden
mimics the night

Paresh Tiwari
Simply Haiku, Summer 2013

paper moon. . . 
a cliff-diver folds 
in the setting sun

Kala Ramesh
Beyond the Horizon Beyond

And now to her own work, with comments by Praniti Gulyani!

shooting star
nothing really
to wish for

(Under The Basho, 2020)

In today’s world, satisfaction is somewhat unattainable. For me, satisfaction is defined as a conversation with a loved one, a good haiku publication and a hearty meal (preferably something sweet to conclude) . I think the inspiration point for this haiku came on one such satisfying day, when I felt as though I had all I wanted, and even if I had an opportunity to make a wish (a shooting star), I would not have anything to wish for.

lonely evening…
slowly getting used 
to myself

(Narrow Road, April 2020)

This haiku came from many places, or rather, many points of loneliness incorporated within me. I guess the composition of this haiku was a slow process, as I realized the beauty of ‘getting used to one’s self’, getting acquainted with one’s own whims, longings and desires.  For me, this haiku highlights the solitude I have always longed for, and further emphasizes on the joy of ‘getting used to myself’.

falling rain. . . 
imitating the way 
she says my name

(Haibun Today, September 2019)

The inspiration behind this haiku is my primary school English teacher, Kavita ma’am, the very first person who told me I could write! She has a tendency to pronounce my name by emphasizing on the ‘I’, and hence calls me ‘Praneeeti’ rather than ‘Pran-i-ti’! Even as a child, I loved the way she would pronounce my name and would often imitate it, because this particular pronunciation made my name sound so very unique. It is strange though, how a six year old practice can inspire haiku, but I guess, that it is the beauty of the form!

long journey . . . 
the moon no longer
by my side

This haiku comes from a very deep place, and I see this haiku not as a poem, but as a close friend, a companion and a mate. There is a small story behind this specific haiku and I want to narrate part of it over here. When we go on long journeys, we can observe the moon ‘accompanying us’ at the window of our car, but when we enter a twist or a turn, the moon tends to ‘go away’. My haiku is inspired by all those moments in my life, when the people I held closed chose to  move away, leaving me on my own

with comments by Praniti Gulyani!

Okay, now I would like to gracefully present my first love and reason for survival…’HAIBUN’!

If I can write any good haibun at all today, I owe it all to my Haibun mentor, who is Paresh Tiwari. His constant guiding has helped me shape my work, and by composing such beautiful and magical poetry himself, he has inspired me to reach for the stars!


When father came back from the far, far land where he had gone, he came with a pocketful of shadows. And just as I put my hands into his pockets to see what he had got me, the shadows dripped down, forming small puddles around my feet. 

There were all kinds of shadows—shadows of revolvers, bullets, shadows of grass-blades, of dew, of overturned bottles, of baskets, of rough, dry beds, of cardboard, of medicine-strips imprinted with the smallest lettering. . .

"I bring you my life, son," he said, smiling, "a life which you too will have to live one day. Tell me, which part do you like best?"

first champagne…
a new fullness 
to the moon

(Contemporary Haibun Online, April 2020)

I am not happy with most of my works (like most writers) but I am very fond of this particular piece. I have developed a different kind of relationship with this piece and I am proud to say that every time I read it, I tarry a while and wonder ‘Whoa! Did I write that?’ I have always been deeply influenced by the lives of soldiers and war veterans, so I think this haibun stemmed from that point of concern. The haiku, I must mention, is inspired by a scene from The Sound of Music, where Liesel asks her father if she could ‘stay and have her first champagne’ and her father bluntly says, no! I think this haibun captures the bittersweet moments of growing up, some moments which I have experienced too!

Tears Of  A  Different  Kind 

I have cried many a tear, but never a tear of this kind. A heavy weighted tear, that pulls down the eye lid, and the eye lash, but barely touches the white sands of my eyes. A tear that fills up within, but does not slide down the cleft of my cheek, and just teeters on the absolute tip of it.

It has always been words and words alone that ignite tears within me. I have always cried because of someone, but not for someone. And, I wouldn't call this crying. It's just  a sudden, uncanny wetness, and hollowness, emptiness, the feeling of being numb, injected by the permanent anesthesia of failed emotion.

Yet, I know deep within, that this is so, so much more than momentary moisture.

wondering how to mourn
for myself 

(Narrow Road, December 2019)

All of us have had a myriad experiences in our life. Not all experiences have been particularly delightful, and not all experiences have been absolutely sad either. But, it is strange --- how the experiences which seem the ‘saddest’ of all can actually inspire some true, heartfelt poetry. ‘Tears of A Different Kind’ is extremely close to me, because this haibun actually ‘happened’ to me. I actually cried ‘tears of a different kind’ for someone, and even as I write this, I can remember the heaviness of those tears. It is something which I can never, ever forget no matter how hard I try. In the heart of this haibun, I can actually relive the heaviness of that tear, and thus this piece is so close to my soul.

In The End

After mother’s retirement, I often found her standing at the balcony, gazing at the sunset. She would stand for ages, watching the shift of colors in the sky, missing out on her evening tea, and completely oblivious to our calls.

"What is it….about the sky-gazing these days?’ father asked her last evening, as she stumbled inside, her eyes misty and dazed."

"Isn’t it fascinating…" she began, her voice rising and falling. "The sky is so brilliant in the day, flaunting its azure crown with pride, but towards the end of the day, it gracefully succumbs to the orange and scarlet hues, allowing them to overtake its azure shade, without putting up a fight."

old bookshelf...
the dog-eared pages 
of the fairy tale book 

(Under The Basho 2020)

There have been generations and generations of writers and poets before us. We have had poetry about happiness, sorrow, love, anger --- or rather, all the emotions that are direct. And, as they say, emotion is the mother of poetry. In my haibun ‘In The End’ I have tried capturing the grey areas between emotion, the obscure portions of our heart, the little regrets, sorrows and desires, and how closely emotion is linked to nature. In my haibun above, I have attempted to throw light on the link between our obscure emotions and the nature that surround us.


For my mother 

Little girls come into this world as small bundles of pink. Maybe, I too, was a pink bundle. But, I have thought often about what did my mother think of me when I was placed in her arms, red faced and crying. Did she know that in her arms, she held a child who would grow up to be no less than a druggie, a hard core alcoholic, drunk on words and poetry? Did she know that I would not be the sensible student that she was, I would fail in math, while she had topped, I would be baggy and careless, while she had always been perfectly fitted and neatly combed? Did she know that this howling infant would come up to her fifteen years later, and say that "I don't like economics, maths does not interest me, I have decided, I am going to study literature and become a writer. I am sure... "

Maybe she was shocked that day. How could her daughter take to arts, and be so sure of her decision? And that too, so early? Was I depressed? Was I a recluse? Or even worse, was I socially awkward?

A day ago, I saw her with an anthology in her hands. One of my haiku were published in there. I see her finger softly touch my name. The gesture is ever so gentle and ever so slow. It is just as though she is brushing a curl away from my forehead, all those nights I spent in her lap, burning with fever....

"This is... " she says, her voice breaking. I see a tear drop off her cheek, and softly land of my name. It is a momentary magnifying glass, as it falls on my name, making my name seem all the more bigger....

first kick...
her world jerks
to a halt

Thank you Praniti Gulyani!

This concludes The Area 17 Profile Poet piece about  Praniti Gulyani but keep checking as we have another exciting feature from another part of the world at a later date!

Monday, April 20, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Clive Bennett

Clive Bennett

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: Clive Bennett

Clive Bennett
Sometime muck heap philosopher, thinker, dreamer, birdwatcher, poet, and occasional writer. 

A Spirit of Place

I’ve been writing, or attempting to write, haiku for a year or so now. Along the way, and by happy chance, I’ve been lucky enough to have been guided, knowingly or unknowingly, by some of the masters of haiku. They have kindly and with great patience kept me focussed as I continue to try and capture the ‘beauty of the moment’. 

In the beginning ... 

still waters 
a fish jumps ... through 
my reflection 

This is what I like to think of as my signature haiku - in concept the first I wrote, but it has been reworked a good few times as I gain understanding and confidence in the craft of writing haiku. 

As I sit and think ... 

A few of my haiku, and my first go at one-liners. With commentary. 

sunshine after rain the forest stretches 

Ostensibly written after rain swept up the valley obliterating the forest as I was watching for a Goshawk from the viewpoint looking out over Exeter forest at Haldon. Just as quickly the rain cleared the sun came out and I could see the forest stretching for miles and miles and miles … 

3,500 acres of woodland just 15 minutes from Exeter

Here is the haiku that I was playing around with at the time ... 

goshawk watching 
the forest stretches  
beneath her shadow 

But I also had in mind walking in Savernake forest in the rain – as the rain cleared and the sunbeams shone through the leaves onto the woodland floor the forest woke with the noises of rain dripping from the leaves and a myriad other sounds – creaks, groans, sighs of the great oaks ‘stretching’ in the warming sun – the song of the wood – the forest alive and joyful during the day but which can become frightening at night as ‘shadows crowd the spaces’ – an oblique reference to old Moley getting lost in the WildWood. And of course you don’t get shadows in spaces – or do you … 

The history of the forest goes back for a thousand years or more

“old Moley getting lost in the WildWood”
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame THE WILD WOOD

pink moon©Alan Summers

pink moon  shadows crowd the spaces 

The wonder of the supermoon - its closeness to earth, the stars and beauty of the Pleiades ... then the shadows creep in - a darker side - the interplay between our fear of the dark and crowded spaces, whether in the wildwood, city spaces or corners of our mind, and our self confidence in challenging our demons - the only real shadow is our own, cast by moonlight. Oh joy! 
Maybe I’ll have another cocktail after all. 

shadow play  street light flickering outside my window

Memories ... old gas lamps - shadows on the wall, shadows larger than life, lurking in unlit corners - shadow boxing, and making shadow puppets before bed ... at sunrise the lamp post moves out of its own shadow. Perhaps someone will fix it today. 

sunrise  the cuckoo’s call fills the room

Draw back the curtains, throw open the windows and enjoy both the beauty of an April sunrise and the cuckoo’s call - its ventriloquial call full of sunshine itself. No more shadows! Only echoes. 

magpie nest  the blackthorn winter passes over 

As the dark days of winter give rise to the sunny days of spring, on the morning of Passover a magpie flew up from the lawn into the the blackthorn hedge. I was glad when it was joined by another with a twig in its beak. They flew higher and disappeared into the ivy, where the poplar forked. 

So the magpie nest could either refer to the nest structure itself or the act of magpie going about their business of nesting. 

So in this one there is a degree of symbolism with the magpie bringing both sadness and then joy, as in the old rhyme. 

The image of the lone magpie is seen throughout history and is often shown in pictures of gallows and hanging trees. 

out of the mist 
the gallows tree 
one for sorrow 

There is also the potential play on words in the use of the phrase ‘passes over’ and the symbolic reference to thorns both in the hedge and magpie nest. I mean no offence. 

murmuration  sound of pebbles in the backwash

A contrast here between the Murmuration of starlings - a cacophony of sound which quietens to a murmur or whisper before total silence and the rhythmic sound of waves crashing onto the beach and pebbles caught in the backwash - the sound can be quite hypnotic. 

Originally written to complement an excerpt from the writings (Wild Life in a Southern County 1879) of Richard Jefferies ... 

starling ... 
swirling twisting turning 
drop into firs 

[…]In the thick foliage of this belt of firs the starlings love to roost. If you should be passing along any road—east, north, west, or south —a mile or two distant, as the sun is sinking and evening approaching, suddenly there will come a rushing sound in the air overhead: it is a flock of starlings flying in their determined manner straight for the distant copse. From every direction these flocks converge upon it: some large, some composed only of a dozen birds, but all with the same intent. Viewed from a spot three or four fields away, the copse in the evening seems to be overhung by a long dark cloud like a bar of mist, while the sky is clear and no dew is yet risen. The resemblance to a cloud is so perfect that any one—not thinking of such things—may for the time be deceived, and wonder why a cloud should descend and rest over that particular spot. Suddenly, the two ends of the extended black bar contract, and the middle swoops down in the shape of an inverted cone, much resembling a waterspout, and in a few seconds the cloud pours itself into the trees. Another minute and a black streak shoots upwards, spreads like smoke, parts in two, and wheels round back into the firs again. On approaching it this apparent cloud is found to consist of thousands of starlings, the noise of whose calling to each other is indescribable—the country folk call it a “ charm,” [murmuration] meaning a noise made up of innumerable lesser sounds, each interfering with the other. The vastness of these flocks is hardly credible until seen; in winter the bare trees on which they alight become suddenly quite black.[…] 

wave after wave 
the sound of pebbles 
in the backwash  

When starlings flock together, wheeling and darting through the sky in tight, fluid formations, we call it a murmuration.

Book Review: Wild Life in a Southern County by Richard Jefferies

my backyard a winter wren fills the space 

A Wren, the king of birds - larger than life - his song and ebullience fills the space that is my backyard. Wren can be found almost everywhere and in almost every country, from rocky shores to mountain tops. So my backyard could mean something much larger - a different country - wherever you happen to be - a spirit of place - a Wren singing can transport you to a life or place much larger, freeing you of the pettiness of the mundane. The wren is the embodiment of a bird’s ability to live in tune with its surroundings and to take delight in the natural rhythms and beauties of the seasons. Listen to him sing - the moment is yours! 


Clive Bennett runs a superb blog:
Art in Nature 
The ‘Beauty of the Moment’ – in art and anecdote, poetry and prose

Intrigued further about one line haiku?

Travelling the single line of haiku 
- one line haiku / monoku / monostich

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series: hats, haiku, and haibun by Hemapriya Chellappan

The Area 17 Profile Poet Series:

Hemapriya Chellappan
(b. Chennai, India)
Engineer & Writer

the many shapes
of loneliness

Hemapriya Chellappan
Bristol Museum & Art Gallery online gallery of Masters of Japanese Prints (2020)
The poem were published online on UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 2020.

Haiku with Commentaries by Hemapriya Chellappan

Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
a woman next to me 
gets her brows done

I blame the society for setting unrealistic beauty standards: The idealized photos of Instagram models, influencers and celebrities have a bad effect prominently on young people, who undergo extreme measures to achieve the desired look and simply don’t realize the images are artificial. Why do all girls want to look pencil thin? Why do you want thick wavy hair? Why do you want a nose job when you can perfectly look angelic in your own nose? You don’t have to look a certain way to feel important. You don’t want to lower your value to a grade of meat. I quote Shakespeare here: “Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks.”

the Last Supper
a sink full 
of unwashed dishes

As a kid, I have always been yelled at for not finishing my chores on time and my mom wants me to do chores right after I wake up. Come on, housework is not amazing. It is painstaking and really boring. I used to procrastinate as a child until I grew up and realized it’s not fun even as an adult.

exam hall 
even the time 

At school, I’ve always been bad at Math, in fact, I was very bad that I’d finish my paper before anyone else and go the bathroom and cry. Sometimes when I can’t think of a solution to the problems in my life I used to blame myself for not being bright and calculative. It was a real deal. Even after I have learnt to solve my own problems I still dread those moments in the exam hall questioning God: “Why me?”

origami boat 
how my childhood 

The rains make me nostalgic. It teleports me back to my childhood and those carefree days. The color of nostalgia for me is blue. It is the same color of the first time my cousin took me into an open field and taught me how to ride a bike. The same blue of my uniform in 8th grade. The blue that I sometimes see on a flitting butterfly outside my window. The sound of a fountain pen gliding on paper. But of them are faded, melted into the oblivion, lost in time and forgotten into the past. Even though you see blue skies, green trees, cotton candies and pinwheels with hints of joy bubbling underneath, nostalgia has much more taste than color and it tastes like abandon.

Hokusai’s Wave
sharpening his claws
a feral cat

Even though being a dog person, I’m always fascinated by the weird antics of cats. They are very playful and have this devil-may-care attitude. According to science, liquid takes the shape of the container without changing its volume. Yes, cats are liquids! You can never find an animal that fits into everything. They’re curious, perky and adorable. Our building cat always scratches on some hard surface as if preparing for a fight with other alley cats. If you find your glass of water precariously placed on the edge of the table got knocked over, BLAME THE DOG!

incessant rains 
small talks 
dry up

Honestly, we have all been there. I am always struck up in a conversation with my neighbors when I take out the garbage; go for a walk or grocery shopping. Even if I find a reason to leave, someone else would come, say hello, join in the conversation and eventually out of courtesy I’ll stay a little longer and the loop continues.

HAIBUN (hybrid writing, prose with haiku):

Shooting Stars

We've always loved the terrace at our grandma's. Flanked by coconut trees on one side, and mango, guava trees, on the other, it was our playground. We'd play all day, rain or shine. Even in the scorching sun, a slight breeze would fan our faces fresh and the game would go on. Granny used to make us tea and snacks when we come home and halt after play. Her house has always been filled with children and grandchildren. It has been years since I stepped foot on that house. We sold that house, we don't live there anymore but whenever I drive past this once beautiful home of ours, I could smell strong nostalgia simmering in a mud pot, on her stove, in the backyard. Sometimes I could hear the sounds of TV and laughter of my cousins emanating through the hallways.   

summer's end 
drying the last 
of my pickles 

Home Sweet Home 

I get emotionally attached to places. After I got married and shifted to Pune, my husband and I lived in a 2BHK apartment of a high-rise for two years and our favorite spot was the balcony where we used to sit together for hours during the day to watch people & birds and at night to admire the city lights and sigh about how insignificant we are in this vast expanse of universe. Recently our landlord increased the rent threefold and we had to shift to a new society not very far from this place. At times now, I miss the balcony, the view, and the happy pigeons strutting into our kitchen for some snack.

moving day
the harsh call
of geese

Note: 2BHK apartment is: two bedrooms, hall, and kitchen:

Postcard perfect

I have this habit of bringing tacky souvenirs from the places I visit. I like to put them in a bag and cherish them forever. When I returned from my honeymoon, to Mauritius, I had a bit of 7 Colored Earth, seashells, SIM cards, boarding passes, sleep masks, bills, miniature bottles of shampoo, conditioners, soaps etc. in a bag that I totally forgot about. Recently, when I was cleaning the wardrobe, I stumbled upon and sniffed at a bag to see what it held. Poof, I was immediately teleported! I’m tormented by  everything that’s beautiful: sound of the waves, salty breeze on my hair, sunset colors among the mountains, sceneries that look like Windows Wallpaper, Bolognese pasta, the Undersea walk, the Sega music to which the African women danced every night during our stay at the hotel, shopping at the Port Louis city, a little bit of Creole I managed to learn and Ed Sheeran's Thinking Out Loud to which we walked slowly along the beach and so on.

afternoon breeze
a coconut’s thud startles
the tree squirrel

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud [Official Video] 

Hat haiku

noonday heat
the woman in a hat’s
half-baked smile

millinery shop
a man in a yellow cap
stops for a hat

perched on my hat
perched on my head
a parrot

-The End-