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THE HAIBUN GALLERY: 7th September 2023 — Peter Newton, featured poet.

hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh

A Thursday Feature.

poet of the month: Peter Newton

7th September 2023

Happy to introduce Peter Newton, and there's a lot waiting for you this month!

Since 2012, Peter Newton has co-edited the online journal tinywords and has

recently served as Guest Editor for Contemporary Haibun Online. Currently, he

serves on the panel to select The Touchstone Book Awards and is part of a small

group of editors working on the follow-up anthology to Haiku in English; The First

Hundred Years, in which his poems appeared, published by W. W. Norton in 2013.

Newton has been awarded several Museum of Haiku Literature Awards from The

Haiku Society of America’s journal, Frogpond, multiple Editors’ Choice Awards

from The Heron’s Nest, as well as Touchstone Awards from The Haiku Foundation

and Merit Book Awards from The Haiku Society of America.

He is a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.A. English, 1987) and

Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English (M.A. English, 1992). He has

worked at The Bred Loaf School of English and The Bread Loaf Writers’

Conference for more than thirty summers.

Newton has published seven books in the Japanese short-form tradition. He lives

in Vermont.

We asked Peter some questions and he has been kind in answering them. Read on! THG:

1. Do you come from a literary background? What writers did you enjoy

reading as a child? Did you write as a child?

I’ve always loved reading, writing and making things with my hands. My parents

were not book people, per se, but my Mom was always reading some sort of dime

store romance and my father insisted on having a full set of Encyclopedia

Brittanica in the house. They cared about language and encouraged a lifelong

relationship with books. Early on, I recall making books in grade school and

taking the process very seriously. I mean, as serious as one can be with

construction paper and paste. As for authors that have made an impression on me

when I was very young. E.B.White, Dr. Seuss and various sundry comic books

that were strewn throughout my childhood. I did not take up writing as a serious

pursuit until high school when I thought I wanted to be a journalist. I headed up

the school paper and worked on the yearbook. All those things a soon-to-be

English major is apt to do.


2. How do you translate experience into writing?

A fascinating question. I love the idea of being one’s own translator. As if each of

us speaks our own completely unique language and must therefore learn how to

communicate with others, as if for the first time. When something stops me in my

tracks I pull out a pen. Or when something gives me pause. Slows me down.

Makes me do a double-take. When that happens, I jot it down. We are what we

do. And writers write. I translate experience into writing the old fashioned way.

Word by word, in long hand scratching and scratching so the ink bleeds into the

pulp of the paper. It’s all manual. And labor. I try to keep the portal open, so to

speak. I want to be aware and receptive to experiencing the world and all its

various inhabitants. Of course, that only answers the logistical part of the

question. Translating lived experience into the written word is a lifelong vocation.

No one else sees the world exactly as you do. We are each weird one-of-a-kinds

worthy of celebration. The biggest challenge is to check one’s ego at the door and

never think that what you have to say is any more or less important than what

anyone else has to say. In the end, the simple fact remains that if you don’t write

your life down, no one else will. Or can. The hardest job of a translator is to

convey style, tone and intent in a way that makes people want to listen. When I

open a book of poems, I think: Sing to me.




pops up where you might not expect, unbidden. Take a slow walk on a summer day. Down a dirt road scattered with puddles from last night’s downpours. Let the sun make its comeback. Thoreau himself might have sauntered down this same path. Who knows? Frost could’ve written a poem around here without even trying. Suddenly, a small cloud of blue butterflies startles up from their cooling drink of rainwater. How willing they are to land on anything that lets them.

relationship advice from a firefly on again

(Snapshot Press e-chapbook, 2022)

Beyond Belief

I want to go in but this is not my church. I don’t belong to one. Besides, I haven’t stepped inside a church in decades. Instead, I stop to tie my shoe within earshot of their singing. They are calling me. How loud and clear the choir is. The entry alcove is the perfect amplifier. I am kneeling before the acoustics like a beggar tying and retying my other shoe on the sidewalk while their full harmony fills the rafters. What a gift it is to sing. Open oneself to some greater being. If god is everywhere then maybe god is teaching me with a hundred voices how to tie my shoes. How to stand. How to walk through life with the whole world inside me.

first red

tulip a quiver

in the wind

(Modern Haiku, Fall 2022)

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Prompt: I enjoy Peter's narrative style. Notice the devices such as fragmentation, compression, and rhythm he brings into his writing.

The Axis:

A good haiku has both the horizontal axis and the vertical axis.

Can we extend this to haibun writing as well?

The Horizontal Axis is a clear, vivid, concrete image the poem creates in the reader’s mind. The reader can simply be content with this understanding and move on. But quite a few times the horizontal image might be unclear, and the reader could be left scratching his/her head, not knowing what the poet is trying to convey.

The Vertical Axis extends beyond the horizontal image, adding a deeper dimension, something that relates to one's life in a poignant way. It yields multiple interpretations, making the poem memorable for the reader. Again note the resonance, a word that keeps getting repeated in haikai aesthetics.

The two axes were first brought to our attention by Haruo Shirane. He explains that the horizontal axis is the focus on the present, on the contemporary world, while the vertical axis is the movement across time, leading back into the past, to history, and to other poems.

*Haruo Shirane’s essay- Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths Modern Haiku, XXXI:1 (winter-spring 2000)

We have this beautiful essay in LEARNING

Can you give us a haibun including both axes? Think about the ways you can do this effectively.

And, of course, haibun outside this prompt can also be posted!


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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120 comentários

Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh
13 de set. de 2023

haikuKATHA - Issue 23. September 2023


The selection list wasn't complete.

Extremely sorry for this error.


  1. Journeys: Anju Kishore

  2. What One Gathers: Anju Kishore

  3. Instructions: Billie Dee

  4. Lot’s Wife: Eavonka Ettinger

  5. Whether or Not: Eavonka Ettinger

  6. Illusion: Firdaus Parvez

  7. Wipeout: Lorraine Haig

  8. Asking For It: Peg Cherrin-Myers

  9. Winter’s Approach: Reid Hepworth

  10. Heads or Tails: Reid Hepworth

  11. Overexposed: Richard Grahn

12. Sketchy Memories: Richard L Matta

13. Long Haul: Robert Kingston

14. Lessons: Sangita Kalarickal

15. Signpost: Sangita Kalarickal

16. The End is The Beginning: Teji Sethi

17. Lullaby: Vidya Shankar


  1. birds are cooped up: Kala Ramesh

  2. trying to open: Lakshmi Iyer

  3. his intense: stare: Lakshmi Iyer

  4. stars rise: Sangita Kalarickal



Rupa Anand
Rupa Anand
13 de set. de 2023

Post 2 - September 13th

Ever and Forever

for TinkerBell

i watch her

play tag with sunbeams

amidst the dahlias

When she was younger, I wanted to take her to cancer wards and old age-homes, certain that her cheerful disposition would offer comfort and joy. A cat's purr vibrates within the range of 20-140 Hz, with therapeutic benefits including lowering stress levels. However, this sort of therapy is not welcomed in India.

Instead, she comforts me for fifteen years, gorgeous blue eyes following, snuggling, nuzzling my chemo head.

One Sunday afternoon she convulses and has seizures and i hold her close to syringe electrolytes the entire night. Flanking hot water bottles i raise her body temperature. This time i d…


sangita kalarickal
sangita kalarickal
11 de set. de 2023

Edit 1. Thanks to @Anju and @Rupa for the suggestions. I welcome more feedback.

In Memoriam

“Turn on the TV! We’re under attack!”

I jab at the red switch on the remote. Pandemonium. A plane slices a skyscraper on live TV, its shock waves bringing down a nation, the world, and my belief in security. Images on the screen go unsteady as the camera jounces. Then the darkness of smoke and rubble.

Then nothing.

And then the news trickles in.

Of last phone calls. Of horror. Of hopelessness.

Of first responders.

sudden thunderstorm


crushed underfoot

#1 September 11, 2023

In Memoriam

“Turn on the TV! We’re under attack!”

I jab at the red remote power switch.…

sangita kalarickal
sangita kalarickal
13 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thank you so much Kala, for the detailed suggestions, much much obliged! 🙏

I didn't think that thunderstorm was a kigo. I know that just thunder is a summer kigo. It's a waste of words to use more than one kigo words, of course.

I love the use of exclamation to show suddenness! Thank you for the suggestion.

As for the repetition, those were deliberate. To slow down the reading and to emphasize. Let me read again and see what I can remove without sacrificing the effect.

Again, thank you, @Kala!🙏


Bonnie J Scherer
Bonnie J Scherer
11 de set. de 2023

11/09/2023 gembun #1

Revised following feedback. Thanks all!

The superstition that dragonflies can sew up the ears, eyes or mouth of a sleeping child.

darning needle

piercing holes

in your story


The superstition that dragonflies can sew up the ears, eyes or mouth of a sleeping child.

darning needle

piercing holes

in your lies

feedback welcome 🙂

Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh
13 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a


Your original version should be below your revised version.

Only then poets coming in later will understand the reason you have revised.


lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
11 de set. de 2023

#1, gembun - 15/9, revised

sitting at peace at the edge of a glassy lake . . .

sudden rains

smudge the waves

I'm in neither

Lakshmi Iyer, India




sitting at peace at the edge of a glassy lake . . .

sudden rain

ripples smudged waves

I'm neither in any

feedback please

lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
13 de set. de 2023
Respondendo a

'smudge' like smudge her make-up like

I meant that the dirty water discolours the clear one.

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