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Alan Summers — Touchstone Award Winner

Alan Summers is a recipient of a Touchstone Individual Poem Award for 2016 for his poem

house clearance
room by room by room
my mother disappears

It first appeared in Blithe Spirit 26.1.

See the complete list of winners of both Individual Poem Awards and Distinguished Books Awards in the Touchstone Archives.

This Post Has 57 Comments

  1. Wonderful commentary from the judges, thank you so much!
    .
    house clearance
    room by room by room
    my mother disappears
    .
    Alan Summers
    Blithe Spirit 26.1 (March 2016)
    Shortlisted for Museum of Haiku Literature Blithe Spirit 26.2 (May 2016)
    .
    Touchstone Award Winner 2016
    .
    “When I read haiku, I’m looking for an unexpected view on the well-known. I’m curious to learn about an open secret (after Robert Spiess). I’m looking for a simple (but not banal) and lucid language that expresses something extraordinary within the ordinary, something which I never read before in that way as well as something that is of beauty beyond time. ‘house clearance’ represents the pure power of haiku. Layers of meaning ascending from deeper layers of the mind (‘room by room by room’) in relation to existential truth (‘my mother disappears’). Perhaps one finds a human contradiction: memories can only get preserved vividly after “clearance.”
    .
    “An emotional and vivid image that brings sadness at first reading while effectively pointing out that taking away the physical doesn’t remove the memory.”
    .
    Further commentaries:
    https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/2017/04/30/commentaries-for-the-2016-touchstone-awards/
    .

  2. Congrats Alan. A great piece born out of reminiscence and touching memories. Though the umbilical cord is always severed, mother and child relationship indeed remain unbroken.

  3.  
    Congrats, Alan Summers, a master of the haiku-poem

     
    emotionally potent – resonating a Universal chord
     

     
    Following the master, I also heard/experienced “re-appearance”:
     
    house clearance
    yet room by room by room
    mother reappears
     

     
    Thanks, Mr. Summers, for sharing & inspiring —
     

    in Heaven
    all the colors appear
    clear

    Michael (MV)   http://ibpc.webdelsol.com/poems/disrobing-the-ghost
      

     
     
     
     
      
     
     

    1. Thanks Michael, and I love your poem with allusions to Buson etc… Wonderful!
      .
      Thank you for your wonderful poetry, and your kind comments, deeply appreciated.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  4. Congrats on your Touchstone award for this outstanding haiku Alan. I will always recall your kindness as you and I traversed the same path with our mothers.

    1. Thank you Roberta!
      .
      Three mothers between us, as I finally got to meet my original birth mother. Our mothers are such a strong presence.
      .
      Hope to meet up with you somewhere in the world, things are just starting to turn around for Karen and myself. 🙂
      .
      warmest of regards,
      Alan

  5. I can relate to this. This is a very powerful haiku, Alan! I was hoping you would win. Congratulations! By the way, where is the list of the top 5? Wondering if Frameless Sky (poem by Michele L. Harvey) is among them.

  6. Across cultures and continents, I can relate to this haiku. Beautiful.
    Mother and the house : how deeply interwoven they are!

    1. Thank you Carlos,
      .
      We had a difficult relationship most of our life, but in the end she recognised I was always there for her, and we had a great last few years.
      .
      And she even grew proud of my poetry achievements in the end. We came from working class background so getting a trade was always more important.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  7. Outstanding haiku, Alan. Congratulations on your win. The beauty and poignancy of this poem are enhanced for me by knowing about your personal journey losing two mothers. So many of us can relate to this theme and appreciate how well you articulate a sense of loss for the rest of us.

    1. Dear Rebecca,
      .
      Thank you for your comment! Yes, both my mothers died within two weeks of each other. One in Britain, and one in Western Australia. I was able to share grief and condolences with my half-sister in Australia.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

    1. Wow, thank you Barbara! It’s great to know. So often we don’t know that readers, and other poets, love our work. Bless you!
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  8. Out of sadness, this happy moment. … In your memory, you will have your mother firmly in residence. Nola

  9. Alan, I have loved this poem from the first time I read it. I know you are so busy teaching that you probably don’t get a chance to write and enter as many of your own haiku as you would like, so it’s great to see your work being recognised. Well done!

    marion

    1. Thank you Marion! 🙂
      .
      Yes, you are right, I rarely get time to write my own work, so this was an amazing piece of news.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  10. Congratulation Mr. Summers!

    Mother!
    disappearing from the boundaries of a room, to appear in seeds of a thought, World Wide.
    Power of haiku
    ———-
    Best wishes from Iran.
    may your mother rest in peace.

  11. as well as the emotional content, such a well crafted haiku. The three uses of the word ‘room’ and the final word ‘disappears’ did it for me

    1. Thank you David!
      .
      It was wonderful meeting up against yesterday. Karen had good timing as we caught the last train back home, as the others would have been buses.
      .
      Once our home is no longer filled with thousands of boxes and chaos, I hope you will visit! 🙂
      .
      Thank you for your kind words. It is rare for me to show my emotions in my work, but I wanted a tribute to my mother, and she would be thrilled. In her last years she was very proud of my achievements in writing haiku, and would have loved this award.
      .
      The haiku is very true to my experience. It was an eerie experience disappearing a parent who filled and dominated that house. I was always amazed and proud that she adored what was a very modern 1970s house designed by the architect who made it his home for a few brief years until a family breakup alas. My mother was a hidden artist, always under pressure to keep to her trades, but the few signs I saw, she was very gifted. I think she finally recognised it was okay for me to pursue my dreams and not just a trade, they can go together. 🙂
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  12. Alan, this poem is so deeply moving and true for you and for so many of us who have been in a similar position. This honour is so well deserved. Congratulations!

    ~ Mary

    1. Thank you Mary!
      .
      It was great meeting you last year, and although we couldn’t this year, I have a feeling you will be back in England soon! 🙂
      .
      Thank you for your kind comments, it was an extraordinary feeling to see my mother, such a force of nature, literally disappear room by room by room. Her home meant so much for her, as she started full time work at 14 years of age, and always worked incredibly hard.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  13. Congratulations Alan!

    Yes a special poem which will resonate powerfully with many.
    I remember it with a mix of sorrow and fondness too.

    1. Thank you Samar!
      .
      Although the haiku is about my adoptive mother, my birth mother died two weeks later too, in Perth, Western Australia. I was glad I was able to finally meet her a few years ago.
      .
      Thank you for your kind comments, deeply appreciated.
      .
      warm regards,
      Alan

  14. Alan
    What a great honor and what a special poem. It is one of those that you don’t forget just like your mum…

    Susan

    1. Thank you Susan,
      .
      Your comments are greatly appreciated, and even more so after your own great loss not so very long ago.
      .
      warmest regards,
      .
      Alan

  15. A simultaneous feeling of wandering and loss and wandering lost. Potent. The clarity (via such clearances) that comes to us as we get older. Congratulations Alan. All best. –Peter

    1. Thank you Peter,
      .
      Yes, a straight direct experience, stripped down, just as the probate process from my side meant erasing my mother’s presence from the house, in order to put up the home for sale, to pay death taxes.
      .
      The house, when bought back in the 1970s, was a major achievement for my parents, as it cost so much money. Also my mother embraced the radical design of the house (designed and lived in by the architect).
      .
      When my mother was too ill we had to move her to a safe medical place, but I made sure she had many years at that house before that.
      .
      Thank you for your comments, they are genuinely appreciated.
      .
      warmest regards,
      Alan

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