Skip to content
David Cobb

David Cobb

March 12, 1926 - November 6, 2020

Career in teaching languages (EFL English, German) and literature, initially UK, Thailand, but since 1968 adviser/author of over 100 school books used worldwide. Since 1985 freelance in same field, now with time to write/publish literary stuff (to taxman, ‘hobby that got out of hand’.) Large family, but five years lone parent vain of multi-tasking skills, yet unable to master cling film.

At the good old age of 94, David Cobb, co-founder of The British Haiku Society with Dee Evetts and James Kirkup, died peacefully last Friday (November 6, 2020) in his sleep of natural causes.

Awards and Other Honors:

First Prize, Cardiff International Haiku Competition (1991); Third Biennial Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai (2004); Ashiya Takahama Kyoshi Grand Prix Award (2006); three Haiku Society of America Book Awards.

Books Published:

A Leap in the Light [ISBN 0-9517103-0-3] (Equinox, UK, 1991); The Haiku Hundred [ISBN 0-906228-42-5] (ed. with James Kirkup &Peter Mortimer, 1992); Mounting Shadows[ISBN 0-9517103-1-1] (Equinox, UK, 1992); Chips off the Old Great Wall [ISBN 1-870653-18-1] (Hub Editions, UK, 1993); The Genius of Haiku; readings from R H Blyth [ISBN 0-9522397-0-1] (BHS, UK, 1994) and [ISBN 4-590-00988-9] (Hokuseido Press, Tokyo, 1995); Jumping from Kiyomuzu [ISBN 0-906228-56-5] (Iron Press, UK, 1996); The Spring Journey to the Saxon Shore [ISBN 0-9517103-3-8] (Equinox, 1997); The Iron Book of British Haiku [ISBN 0-906228-67-0] (ed. with Martin Lucas, Iron Press, UK, 1998); Plops! mal englisch, plops! mal deutsch [ISBN 1-870653-89-0] (Hub Editions, UK, 1999); A Bowl of Sloes [ISBN 0-9526773-3-4] (Snapshot Press, UK, 2000); Zomaar een haiku alphabet (Marginale Uitgeverij, Netherlands, 2000); Palm [ISBN 0-9517103-4-6] (Equinox, UK, 2002); Haiku [ISBN 0-7141-2401-X] (ed. British Museum Press, UK, 2003), [ISBN 0-7893-0826-6] (Universe Publishing, USA, 2003); and [ISBN 91-501-0277-X] (Alfabeta, Sweden, 2002); The Dead Poets’ Cabaret [ISBN 0-906228-88-3] (Iron Press, UK, 2003); Forefathers [ISBN 0-9747229-1-X] (Leap Press, USA, 2004); Business in Eden [ISBN 0-9517103-5-4] (Equinox, UK, 2006); Im Zeichen des Janus[ISBN 1-903746-61-2] (Hub Editions, UK, 2006); Euro-Haiku: a bilingual anthology [978-0-9552450-2-2] (ed. Iron Press, UK, 2007); Veter se Obrne / A Shift in the Wind [978-6644-04-4] (Društvo Apokalipsa, Slovenia, 2007); Spitting Pips [ISBN 978-0-9517103-6-4] (Equinox, UK, 2009).

Selected Work
a moment between
lighthouse flashes
cold smell of fish
a poky hotel
no room for my shadow
to stretch out
the frost holds
Friesians in the byre
chew steam
old friends send me
letters they forget to sign
cold wind in the trees
drip by drip
the moonlight lengthens
in the icicle
even here a child
searching for four-leaf clovers —
on Culloden Moor*
eclipse of the sun 
a snail slides out 
from under a stone
spring sunshine
my dead wife’s handprints
on the window pane
running downhill
to see the sun rise
a second time
on the misty pear
all of a sudden buds
burst into sparrows


"a moment between" - A Leap in the Light (1991); "the frost holds" - Mounting Shadows (1992); "drip by drip" - Jumping from (1996); "a poky hotel" - A Bowl of Sloes (2000); "old friends send me" - Spitting Pips(2009); "even here a child" – Palm (2002) [*Note: At Culloden Moor, in 1746, King George II’s English-Hanoverian army massacred Bonny Prince Charlie’s Scots and effectively brought to an end the old Highland clans’ independent way of life.]; “eclipse of the sun” ; “spring sunshine”; “running downhill”; “on the misty pear” – Anchorage, Selected Haiku 1991–2013, Winchester, VA: Red Moon Press, 2014

Additional Reading:

A Slice of David Cobb by Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy.
The BHS Committee's combined thoughts
We had many good memories of him, having been involved in helping him to organise various BHS Gatherings since 1990, during the course of which he always led inspirational, challenging & lively workshops from which we all benefited.

We well remember his enthusiasm for engaging in haiku-conversations and valued the constant help & advice he gave to members both at home and across the sea. The contacts he established were many and wide-ranging, especially the association we had for many years with the Anglo-Japanese Foundation at Daiwa House in London where we used to meet regularly.

David wrote English Haiku: A Composite View which may be found on our Website, still a uniquely solid statement of BHS beliefs about haiku which has been taken up by many haiku societies world-wide. His haiku have had a lasting formative effect on all of us for thirty years.

Together with Ken Jones he was a leader in putting the writing of modern haibun on the world map and his many articles about the history of, and techniques involved in, writing haiku and related genres have been globally influential. We shall miss him.

in the bedroom mirror
the old slow bowler
bowling at himself

Sources Biography:

David Cobb Haikupedia; David Cobb.

Back To Top