Rachel Sutcliffe, formerly of Harrowgate, North Yorkshire, was a talented haiku poet who is much missed in the international haiku community. For almost a decade, she and I workshopped our creative fiction and poetry on several online forums and since her death from lupus in 2019, I have been in regular contact with her mother, Marie.

When I learned that Marie was to visit Ireland in August, we arranged to meet up in Belfast. I was surprised and delighted when she gifted me a set of writers’ pencils and the charm in the photo above that had belonged to Rachel. We found we had lots to talk about and ended up spending several hours together that day. The tanka below, published and translated into Chinese by the poet Chen-ou Liu, was inspired by our meeting.

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Jabberwocky, swans and chocolate eggs …

My thanks to Gordon Hewitt of Community Arts Partnership, Belfast, for sharing this interview in which he asks about my writing journey and, in particular, short form poetry.

Check out the other features in this month’s issue…

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“Desk-ku” and the 10th Setouchi-Matsuyama International Photo Haiku Contest

almost noon . . .
we ask the rickshaw man
to wait for the drums

This photograph taken by Kit Nagamura is of rickshaws parked at the Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama. It was one of several used to inspire haiku writers in this year’s Setouchi-Matsuyama photo haiku competition.

I had no idea what to write, having never been to Japan, so I decided to do a little research on the area in the photograph. Matsuyama is the capital city of Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku and also its largest city. I discovered the Dogo Onsen is a historical bath house and that a taika drum is sounded in a tower of the building three times a day. I imagined a tourist would want to hang on to hear the sound.

I was very happy my haiku was highly commended in the 10th Setouchi-Matsyama competition. It is a true desk-ku, that is, one written from what I’ve read or discovered through research rather than something I experienced. I was also delighted to learn that this bath house was used for inspiration in my favourite Hayao Miyazaki animated film, Spirited Away.

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A brand new year…

Woke up to find my sister Edel had posted this photograph on our family WhatsApp group to welcome the New Year. She had captured the first sunrise from the shore of Carlingford Lough, in our hometown of Warrenpoint.

Living round the corner from such beauty really does the heart good. ❤️ However, I missed the dawn as I was still asleep, having stayed up well into the wee small hours watching coverage of the 2019 Glastonbury festival. Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should be to stop looking back. Oh, and to do a lot more painting—so this landscape could be the first of 2021!

New Year’s Day
a gull soars towards
the light

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Let’s hope it’s a good one…

…despite everything.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful time over Christmas and the New Year.

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One day in 1983…

This haibun I wrote in recent months appeared in the November issue of the online journal ‘Failed Haiku’. I don’t often write about life during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, but this particular day came to mind when I was trying to come up with an autobiographical subject.

The remains of the Crown Hotel, Warrenpoint.

Edited by Mike Rehling, Failed Haiku is a journal dedicated to the short poetry form senryu. This particular issue was guest-edited by renowned poet Roberta Beary and featured her selection of submitted haibun—prose combined with haiku, senryu or tanka. I was very honoured that Roberta decided to include this one of mine. (Some poetic licence has been used, but the events of the day are very real. I was fortunate that I was never caught bunking school, and it occurred a lot less than the haibun suggests!)

Images used with permission from The Old Warrenpoint Forum (

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Haiku translated into Chinese

UPDATE: Chen-ou Liu has also published my poem ‘sliver of moon‘ in One Man’s Maple Moon. This one is inspired by the local church in my hometown, Warrenpoint, and is a haiku that morphed into a tanka. 🙂

sliver of moon

A big thank you to Toronto-based, Taiwanese poet Chen-ou Liu for translating my ‘
rain clouds’ haiku into Chinese (traditional and simplified versions)


I was so pleased when this haiku was placed first in the 31st Indian Kukai earlier this year. A kukai is a peer-judged poetry competition and I’ve never managed to win one before, so having it translated into Chinese was the icing on the cake!

Chen-ou’s bilingual haiku and tanka blog NeverEnding Story features many examples of these poetry forms, his own poems, reviews and essays and annual anthologies One Man’s Maple Moon and Butterfly Dream. His most recent project is the Coronavirus Poetry Diary

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Published on English-speaking Union of Japan haiku programme

Thanks to my online friend Marta Majorka Chociłowska for alerting me of the publication of this poem in the August list along with our mutual haiku friend, Marina Bellinin! 🙂

English speaking union of japan

I thought I would try adding the haiku to one of my paintings to produce a haiga. Strictly speaking, the haiku should avoid repeating what is featured in the image, but I hoped it would add sound through those soft waves – and of course there’s no way the reader would know that the painting really is of my childhood beach!

childhood shore

Posted in artwork and poetry, haiga, haiku, Ireland, Mountains of Mourne, mourne mountains, Oil Painting, Original Irish Art, short form poetry, Warrenpoint | 4 Comments

A haiku of hope

I have just received this certificate from the Indian Kukai organisers featuring my haiku that was placed fourth in their 32nd kukai  (a peer-judged, poetry competition) The theme was hope, which we could all be doing with at the minute. For me, the white butterfly represents transformation and change – hopefully for the better.

Well done to Ed Bremson whose haiku was placed first; I was delighted as I was in total agreement, having given his haiku my top vote!

Congratulations to all who entered. Here are the results 🙂

hope haiku

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A video ku from the Mournes

The last time I was out for a drive with my family before lockdown was on Mothers Day, March 22nd. My husband drove my daughter and me from Warrenpoint through the village of Rostrevor and when he took this road alongside the Mourne Mountains, the familiar scenery brought back lots of happy memories.  I took some video footage, added the haiku and submitted it to Poetry Pea TV feature Moments where it was featured a few days ago.

My grandmother used to take us for drives around these back roads when we were young, as did my father. He called these Saturday morning outings ‘mystery tours’ and my siblings and I looked forward to them so much.

This area is great for walking and hiking. Here is a link to information on the different routes.

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