Scryptic Magazine – a trip to the dark side

Why not take a look at the deliciously dark material that is Scryptic Magazine…

Much obliged to editors Chase Gagnon and Lori A Minor for selecting my haibun as runner up in the journal’s inaugural Halloween competition. I had been researching the yew tree for another writing project and decided to include a couple of literary references in order to produce something a little spookier.

The judge’s comments:


My haibun:


Posted in haibun, haiku, short form poetry | Tagged | 4 Comments

Strange goings-on in the stationery cupboard

Back in 2014, an on-going poetry competition started up in the Financial Times called ‘Workplace Haiku.’ Despite it’s name, this column which ran for 18 months mainly featured senryu – haiku’s more humorous cousin – which I assume was because more readers had heard of the latter.

I came to the table quite late after seeing a Facebook post by fellow poet, Ernesto Santiago, whose excellent work appeared many times in the feature. I did manage to have some of my entries published, each accompanied by an insightful commentary from Jim Kacian, a well known haiku master from the short form poetry world.

Anyway, over at The Haiku Foundation site, Jim is currently re-running this column, not only featuring the winning entries from the original FT feature, but also inviting people to submit new haiku/senryu on topics related to the work environment by Sunday night. I remember how difficult it was trying to come up with poems to send to the FT, so it’s nice to sit back and enjoy new poetry inspired by office life.

Why not send a poem to Workplace Haiku – or have a read by clicking on the image below of my stationery cupboard senryu!

Haiku in the Workplace

Posted in haiku, Haiku at Work, senryu, senryu;, short form poetry, writing competitions | Tagged | Leave a comment

‘Garden Party’ on Haiku Masters


Feedback on a shahai or photo haiku is always appreciated, particularly when a reader has interpreted a particular combination of words and images in a different way to that which inspired it. Often this happens when someone with a different life experience or background views the shahai.

When I first saw the prompt photo below on Haiku Masters, the delicate petals sitting on a large leaf reminded me of a tray of pastel-coloured, petits fours (intricate miniature desserts) that are often served at parties and other events. In this case I imagined a summer garden party because it was an outdoor shot.

In her comments, the haiku poet and judge Kazuko Nishimura reveals that the photo haiku also took her to a late summer garden party, but one located in Japan where the event Obon takes place, the Japanese Buddhist custom of placing food on lotus flowers in honour of the spirits of one’s ancestors.

And so I learn something new today as a result of Kazuko’s feedback…


garden party



Posted in haiga, haiku, photo haiku, Shahai, short form poetry, Symbiotic Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Charmed by the sister cities of Porto and Lisbon

I have just returned from a fifteen-day trip to the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto. If you haven’t already been, it’s useful to know that you can be at the heart of each in around three hours from the UK and Ireland. Unlike the lengthy and relatively expensive transfer from Faro airport to some of the Algarve resorts (I’m thinking of Lagos here, which is my favourite of those I’ve visited) it’s just a short metro or taxi journey to the centre. This makes them excellent weekend-break material, but I was fortunate to have had a week in each to really explore their winding streets on foot and try a “prato do dia” at lunchtime in several local restaurants. Off the main drag, this daily special was really good value in some basic, local restaurants at around just €7-10 which usually included bread and olives to start, a choice of meat or fish main and house wine, dessert and a coffee.

Having studied French and Spanish for years really helped when reading menus, signs and other printed material without having to resort to a phrasebook (I was able to translate a notice on the door of our apartment from the gas supply company to say they would be reading the meter next morning!) However, the pronunciation of words is often very different to how you imagine it might sound. For example, peixe is the word for fish and it is pronounced something like payeesh. Unlike the Algarve, English is not necessarily spoken everywhere, particularly in more traditional restaurants run by older people, where I used a combination of English, French and Spanish and what little Portuguese I’d learned before leaving. People seemed to really appreciate any efforts we made to attempt to express ourselves in the language and my daughter even braved the local bakery in the morning and ordered in Portuguese.

The beauty of both Porto and Lisbon is that they are small enough to see a lot of sites on foot, which I think is the best way to explore their cobbled streets. After walking as far as we possibly could each day, we simply hopped on a vintage tram, metro or bus to transport us back to our apartment. In fact, one day in Porto we arrived at the satellite coastal town of Matoshinos without realising how far we’d walked, although our picnic in the city park en route revived us.

Both cities are abundant with art, culture, history and restaurants to suit any palate and pocket. Then, when you fancy a lazy day at the beach you can be transported there and back in no time. I highly recommend a visit.


The beautiful Duoro river from the Crystal Palace Gardens in Porto, one of the many mirodouros (viewpoints) in both cities

Church in Porto

Porto’s buildings are a mix of shabby chic and impressive

Spooky house in Porto

Staircase in Natural History Museum Porto

Staircase in the Natural History Museum, Porto, which was at the top of our road


Parque Eduardo VII, Lisbon, where we went to a funk and hip-hop outdoor concert as part of the Out Jazz Festival that takes place in various locations over the summer


Turner’s The Wreck of a Transport Ship c1810 in the amazing Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon


The impressive Portuguese parliament building, located a few streets from our apartment

Sao Bento Station

The famous Sao Bento railway station in Porto is worth a visit even if you aren’t taking the train. Visitors come to see its 20,000 azulejos, the painted, tin-glazed tiles that are found everywhere in Portugal

Porto Street Scene

With washing often strung from balconies and people going about their everyday life right beside the main tourist areas, it is easy to get a real feel of the heart of these two cities



Dark alley


pink towel



Posted in Lisbon, Pics, Places, Porto, Portugal, travel | 7 Comments

Daily Haiku: April 12, 2017

Charlotte Digregorio featured a haiku I wrote back in 2014 on her Writer’s Blog. It was originally published in Frogpond, the official publication of the Haiku Society of America.

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog

first thaw
our spades remove                                                                           the end of winter

by MarionClarke   (Ireland)
Frogpond, Vol. 37:2, Spring/Summer 2014

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A Virtual Interview with Jan Benson and Agnes Eva Savich

Cindy Huyser interviews poets Jan Benson and Agnes Eva Savage about their haiku journey and the poets who have influenced them – very honoured to have received a nod from Jan for my photo haiku!

Agnes Eva Savich's Blog

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Photo haiku goes global

Last year, poets from 96 countries and territories submitted 5,303 photo haiku to the NHK World TV web-based programme Haiku Masters.

The photo haiku is a relatively new form of visual literature. Each month the Haiku Masters production team calls for entries from around the globe via social media to which renowned Japanese haiku poet, Michio Nakahara, applies his perspicacity and artistic sensitivity to interpret the entries. At the end of each episode he singles out one contributor to receive the title Haiku Master of the Month.

Episode 12 of the award-winning show was a special, review edition in which guest Koshio Kumura, haiku poet and Professor of English Literature at Nihon University, joined sensei Michio Nakahara and his co-host Kit Pancoast Nagamurato.

The three poets took a look back on some of their favourite pieces over the past year to define what makes a great photo haiku. I was extremely honoured to have had three of mine featured in this beautifully shot, informative programme.

Unfortunately, as this is a monthly programme, only the latest is on-demand, but if you click the link below you can see the last episode.

Special Edition

Posted in haiga, haiku, photo haiku | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Tanka, ekphrastic poetry and chalk pastels contribute to Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement

I was so proud of Class 9 Donard, Abbey Grammar School, Newry when they were recently presented with the Seamus Heaney Award for Achievement 2017 for their poetry. The work resulted from a series of workshops delivered through Community Arts Partnership (CAP) ‘Poetry in Motion – Schools’

In her report of their journey to the stage at the Ulster Hall for CAP’s The Weekly newsletter, English teacher, Roisin Kelly, said, “…the boys produced plenty of tanka, they were also encouraged to bring in meaningful objects and to use images, photos and paintings as inspiration. They were even wielding pastels to illustrate their work on one occasion to help draw out imagery within the poems…what the boys really responded to was the creative freedom. They weren’t confined to any particular subject or poetic form, the way they might have been in an English assessment task…it has been a joy to see the delight and enthusiasm that this scheme has generated.”

The pupils’ award winning words and images have been published in the project’s latest schools’ anthology, A Word in the Hand.

Posted in Anthology, artwork and poetry, haiga, Seamus Heaney Award, short form poetry, tanka | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Clock watching’ – interpreting photo haiku

The dandelion seed head, or ‘clock flower’ in the photo below inspired the accompanying  haiku. I combined the image and words in Photoshop and submitted it to the photo haiku competition organised each month by Japanese TV NHK World’s HAIKU MASTERS. Episode 11 aired earlier this week and I was delighted to discover my photo haiku had reached the final. Thanks are due to my daughter Taryn (15) who took the photo for an art project and her cousin Jules (11) who was the model. 🙂

I found it really interesting to hear how each of the judges interpreted the piece. The combination of image and words evoked three very different responses and I’d be interested to hear how you interpreted it before hearing the discussion. It starts about 07:28 minutes in for just over three minutes and will be available for viewing until March 27. The programme beings with an introduction to photo haiku and there are some great examples of the form. I particularly enjoyed the winner – a sensual but subtle photo haiku.

To view, click the link HAIKU MASTERS, wait for the video to load and press the play button.




Posted in haiga, haiku, photo haiku, short form poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Matrix NI’s ‘sci-ku’ challenge

For the last couple of weeks I have been researching science topics and counting on my fingers for a science haiku competition. The brief for this event the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, Matrix, was to Tweet science-inspired haiku in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.

I write a lot of short form poetry, so you’d think this would be fairly straightforward. However, since Japanese syllables are shorter than their English counterparts, contemporary haiku no longer adheres to this count, so the 5-7-5 stipulation took a bit more effort. As I said to one of the organisers afterwards, I felt I had to ‘pad out’ some haiku in order to reach seventeen syllables. However, as I enjoy a challenge I merrily Tweeted sci-ku on all sorts of topics from black holes and de-extinction, to the dwindling population of bees.

Well, I’m sorry to say I didn’t win, although four of my entries made the shortlist and were displayed at the awards ceremony in Belfast’s Black Box. I also managed to miss this event by being in the wrong place – though at the right time! There were two events organised by Matrix NI that evening in adjacent rooms in the same venue, both starting at 18:30. When I entered the main theatre, I read the words, ‘Tako Tsubo’ (a Japanese term) on a large screen along with the question ‘Can you die from a broken heart?’ Not for a moment did I think I was in the wrong place for a poetry event, so I ordered a drink and sat down for the evening.

Anyway, it turned out that I was attending a presentation by the University of Aberdeen on results of research into a debilitating heart condition. I had been aware from the Matrix Twitter feed that there was to be a further prize for the best science haiku written during the evening and naively thought that the presentation was to provide inspiration. I felt so silly on discovering my error, especially since the haiku event had finished by the time I realised. However, my daughter who had accompanied me said that she had learned more about the heart in two hours than she had over the last two years in biology class. Ah well, as they say, you live and learn. 🙂

So, here are my ‘heart haiku’ and I am itching to remove a few words, but will resist. They are all based on the paper presented by Dr Dana Dawson on the heart condition Tako-Tsubo Cardiomyopathy (also know as Broken Heart Syndrome) which mimicks a heart attack. It can be brought on by emotional stress, such as news of the death of a loved one, due to a sudden increase in adrenaline.

Tako-tsubo heart…
the devastating effect
on survivors too

adrenaline storm …
too much of a good thing
can be a bad thing too

matters of the heart…
wondering if we can die
from a broken one

And here are the shortlisted general haiku with images kindly supplied by Matrix NI. I took the stills from the video of all shortlisted entries.


The above haiku refers to this project and of course to Basho’s ‘old pond’, the most famous haiku in the world.


One for St Valentine’s Day! 🙂


I found this arachnid intriguing, it is also known as the ‘signature spider’ because it writes a zig-zag line in its web.


My husband gave me the bones of this haiku inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ and I worked through several versions before arriving at this one.

Posted in haiku, photo haiku | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments