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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 11th January 2024 — Ludmila Balabanova, featured poet

hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh

A Thursday Feature.

poet of the month: Ludmila Balabanova

11th January 2024

Ludmila Balabanova is a computer engineer and has a Ph.D. in literature. Her books include nine collections of poetry (four of them haiku and haibun books) and a book of criticism on haiku (Haiku: A Dragonfly under the Hat. The Power of the Unsaid, 2014). She is the editor of the Bulgarian Haiku Anthologies Mirrors (101 Bulgarian Haiku selected and edited by Ludmila Balabanova, 2005, Bulgarian, English and French) and Tuning up the Violins (2022, Bulgarian, English).

Her works have been published in several journals and featured in over 40 anthologies worldwide. Her most important awards are Basho’s 360th Anniversary Haiku Award, Japan, 2004; Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Honorable Mention, 2016 for her haiku book Dewdrops on the Weeds; Touchstone Distinguished Book Award, Winner and HSA Merit Book Award for her collection of haibun, Sunflower Field (Zhanet, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, 2019); HSA Haiku Anthology Award Honorable Mention for Tuning up the Violins. She currently lives in Sofia, Bulgaria

You can read about her views on haibun, here:

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THG. 2. How do you translate experience into writing?

LB This is a process that is beyond my control. Each subsequent book of mine reflects a richer experience, but this happens automatically. I think young people are more interested in themselves, in their personal problems, feelings and emotions. In the earlier years, I wrote more autobiographical haibun. I am now more interested in the global laws that drive the world and our lives. But of course, the global can be seen through the personal… Haibun is often autobiographical, but without being confessional, as it borrows from the haikai style the author's detachment, which allows neither ideas nor emotions to be expressed directly. The author relies only on the reader's intuition for insight into what is inexpressible or impossible to verbalize.


3. What is your writing process?

LB When I write theoretical texts, I write mainly in the evening, sometimes late at night. If I am writing a literary essay, I have a plan in advance, gradually developing my theses. Poetry is something different, a poem can appear anytime and anywhere – while walking, reading or watching a movie, while waiting at the bus stop.

Especially with haibun, I usually start with the prose, then think of suitable haiku. But the opposite also happens. What is most important is the associative leap between prose and haiku. It can be said that besides prose and haiku, haibun has a third, hidden element, and it is the link between prose and haiku. In modern haibun, this third element has an extremely important role. The roots of the associative leap lie deep in Far Eastern philosophy and aesthetics. The poem does not illustrate the prose. Very often, the link has been shifted so much that at first glance it seems to be quite detached from the narrative text. The aim is to stimulate the imagination and sensibility of the reader to find deeper relationships and complex connections. Of course, the connection must be subtly implied. This is the true mastery of the author – to reach the reader without being direct. And finally: the title! It is as important as prose and haiku because it can add artistic value to the piece. One contribution Western poets have made is to expand the associative leaps to include the title, increasing its aesthetic role using the rich tradition of Western poetry.

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Old Photo

family album…

lights of a passing train

in the night

I often look at an old yellowish photo. My mother, my father and me. They are very young. I am about a year old. They hold me between themselves and look at me with tenderness and pride. I stare with eyes wide open at the camera.

Years pass by. My mother and father from the picture become younger than me, then younger than my daughter and my son.

measuring the time

between sunset and twilight…

a cuckoo

Modern Haiku, vol. 40.3, Autumn 2009.



Notice how well Ludmila weaves time into this haibun, right from the title to the prose, which is succinctly tied to the haiku, all pointing to transcience and impermanence. When well written, haibun only gets richer with age! Tell us what time means to you.

Haibun outside this prompt is welcome too


Important: Since we're swamped with submissions, and our editors are only human, mistakes can happen. Please, please, remember to put your name, followed by your country, below each poem, even after revisions. It helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!



1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.

2. Share your best-polished pieces.

3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.

Let it simmer for a while.

4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.

5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.

We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.


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