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Librarian’s Cache: Poet of the Month – Alan Summers

Alan Summers lives in the United Kingdom and is President of the United Haiku and Tanka Society, a Pushcart Prize nominated poet and editor of the recently launched Blo͞o Outlier Journal. In 2012, Alan gave a TEDx Talk, Amazement of the ordinary- life through a haiku lens and he is featured in the NHK TV of Japan documentary Alan’s Haiku Journey. In a 2019 interview in Haiku Commentary, he shares his “discovery” of haiku.

 “I was in the Queensland State Library, which has a huge collection of Asian literature, and I must have slipped a copy or two of something amongst all the ‘Western’ forms of poetry. When I opened the next book from a huge pile (I was a fast reader) it was short poems, and they started to click with me, and I saw they were called haiku. Within half a minute, I realised I would stay with haiku for years to come. I stopped trying to accomplish and conquer poetry, and just enjoyed it for its own sake.”

Additional examples of Alan’s poetry and writing can be found on Call of the Page and Area 17.

The Haiku Foundation Digital Library contains Alan’s 2020 book, Forbidden Syllables, and samples from the book include:

a cough two aisles across yet six feet less two meters down

a pot of coffee the sparrows zing by writing

a click and clank the kitchen awake and demanding

Two articles on The Haiku Foundation website that feature Alan’s poetry and observations include:

Thanks for reading,
Dan Campbell

This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Alan,
    Loved your TEDx talk.
    Congratulations on Forbidden Syllables too.
    I loved reading your bio given above. Impressive.
    Wishing you many more years of good health and happiness.

    1. Thanks Kala!

      Glad you loved the TEDx talk, I was in very esteemed company. 🙂

      I’ve enjoyed bringing out both “Forbidden Syllables” and various sequences about covid such as:

      Eleven is an Even Number: Covid Chronicles

      Which also appears in:

      Corona Social Distancing: Poets for Humanity
      ed. hülya n. yılmaz, Ph.D.
      inner child press international 1st Edition: May 2020


      Poetry in the Plague Year
      Poems written during the Coronavirus Outbreak 2020
      (Poetry Kit publishing)

      Both Karen and myself are now waiting for our second inoculation.

      warmest regards,

    2. Thanks!

      I was really pleased to have three eBooks out!

      Glint by Alan Summers

      Forbidden Syllables by Alan Summers

      And The Comfort of Crows with Hifsa Ashraf!

      I have two full eBook collections in development right now, and a print book. Opposable thumbs crossed all three will be out end of the year!

      warm regards,

  2. Congratulations, Alan. I like to dip into those two haiku recordings now and again—the TEDx one as recently as last week, in fact.

    I have possibly said it before, but the following monostich from ‘Forbidden Syllables’ is a new favourite!

    the female thrush keeping company on the clothes line of despair

    I would also like to thank you for all your guidance and encouragement over the last decade. It is very much appreciated.

    Thanks for sharing this, Dan.


    1. Thank Marion,

      For your kind words and for your new favourite! There was indeed a thrush, as I was filling the clothes line, who kept me company, and upbeat at that moment so early on in the covid pandemic.

      Thank you for liking the TEDx presentation, and isn’t it true we can spare at least six seconds in a day for deep gratitude, and to write a little poem?

      And again, many thanks to Dan for making this feature possible.

      warm regards,

    1. Thank you!

      It’s great that Dan compiled so many links together.

      Sometimes, some of us, we just don’t realise we’ve done a few things otherwise! 🙂

      warm regards

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tedx Talk and the Japan documentary. The editor of the documentary really captured something in a few short minutes. Alan has been a positive influence since the beginning of my haiku journey. This seems like a good place to say thank you.

    1. Wow, thank you!

      Yes, the woman who lived and breathed (and even slept) in the small editing room (can’t call it a suite, as that was upstairs) completely caught the spirit. I think NHK TV flew her in as it had been an all-male film crew up until then!

      A real dynamo of a person!

      warm regards,

    1. Thanks Keiko!

      I hope you enjoying the filming, the final edit was by a Japanese woman who actually slept in the editing room until the NHK TV feature was done!

      warm regards,

      1. Maybe she was tired due to jet lag or overwork?

        I enjoyed the film very much and leaned something!

        1. Dear Keiko,

          Not tired or jet lagged! 🙂 She was an amazing dynamo. A little over five feet tall, she was the boss in some ways when she joined one of the shooting days, and when she did the editing! 🙂

          She was at the recording studios owned by the company who were hired by NHK TV. So I saw the small room (downstairs) and the sofa. It was so she could go through FIVE DAYS of footage and narrow it down to 20 minutes, and quickly but expertly. I wasn’t allowed to see any of the editing as she wanted it as a surprise for me. Just pure dedication and professionalism.

          Full of energy!

          warm regards,

  4. Congratulations, Alan!

    Also, I’m happy I could finally saw the movie which I’d been looking for.

      1. You did look like an actor in a BBC drama(I’m a big fan of them), especially in the platform scene😎

  5. Congratulations, Alan,

    The haiku mentioned above as one of the best 100 poems of 2020 is well-deserved. Not to mention your new journal. ( I cannot make the macron on this iPad.)

  6. Thanks Dan, delightful surprise!

    It was wonderful to be picked for the THF re:Virals feature which showcases, with commentary, some of the finest haiku ever written in English. That was a wonderful honor!

    I slide a kigo
    into the gun

    Alan Summers

    The poem has been selected as one of the best 100 haiku from 2020 as well, wow!

    Anthology credit:
    Haiku 21 (Lee Gurga & Scott Metz, editors (Modern Haiku Press)

    The first publication was by tinywords 20.2 (November 2020)

    And the poem featured in the 2021 Southern California Haiku Study Group Zoom Presentation.

    Many thanks for everyone who supported this possibly ‘unusual’ haiku.

    warm regards,

    1. I’d like to say that I am the founding editor of Blo͞o Outlier Journal which launched on Christmas Eve/Christmas Morning:

      The successive issues will focus on specific genres.
      The second issue is prose+poetry genres haibun, tanka story, kyoka story, and zuihitsu, with guest co-editors Grix and Kat Lehmann!

      The Autumn (third) issue will focus on ‘natural history haiku’ where I will be sole editor again!

      2022 will focus on a tanka only issue, possibly including kyoka, with Karen Hoy; and a senryu only issue where Tia Haynes will be a guest co-editor.

      1. Thanks again Dan, for adding the macron symbol over Blo͞o re “Blo͞o Outlier Journal”, much appreciated!

        It’s sometimes forgotten, but you didn’t forget!

        warm regards,

        1. Hi Alan, I am glad you enjoyed the feature, thanks for all of your contributions to the haiku universe!


          1. Thanks Dan, that’s deeply appreciated!

            I also have two other eBooks

            Glint by Alan Summers
            published by:
            Proletaria politics philosophy phenomena (February 2020)

            And a collaborative collection:

            The Comfort of Crows
            Alan Summers and Hifsa Ashraf
            (Velvet Dusk Publishing, December 2019)

            I hope you and others enjoy!

            warm regards,

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