Brian Pike

1. Please share a haiku you have written.

Brian Pike

Catches angler
Fishing for sky

2. Why did you pick this one?

Most of my favourite pieces have an unexpected twist, discontinuity or abrupt shift of viewpoint in them. This one has two — and in just six words.

For purists that makes it too elaborate, but then I’m already a long way off the map for anyone who thinks haiku should conform to a strict recipe. Fourteen syllables? A seasonal reference? A kireji? Those sorts of technical requirements don’t interest me. In fact they barely make sense. Fourteen syllables in Japanese is something very different from fourteen syllables in English, and the whole notion of an English language haiku that has to abide by Japanese rules is a questionable one in the first place.

Just to annoy the purists a bit more, here’s another one that only works if you’re prepared to forget the theory and hold on tight around a couple of hairpin bends:

To hear a glimmer of dawn
In the blackbird’s eye

3. How many have you written? How often do you write? What inspires you?

I would imagine I must have written two or three hundred. To be honest I haven’t counted. As for how often, the answer is ‘very irregularly’. I might jot down a dozen in a day and then none for three months. What inspires me — and what gets me writing — is walking in the fields and woods around the North Yorkshire village where I live. Virtually everything I come up with is written when I’m out and about, and nowadays I try never to leave home without a pen and notebook. Not that writing outdoors is always easy in the British climate:

Rain and I
Both trying to write
On the same page

4. Why do your write haiku? How did you get started?

Well the composing bit of it I just can’t help. Fragments pop into my head unasked, along with all sorts of other stuff. This has been happening for years, but until a year or two ago, when I bought some nice, slim, easy-to-slip-in-a-pocket notebooks, I didn’t actually write any of it down. I just promptly forgot it.

5. Do you work with other forms related to haiku, like renga or senryu or haiga?

Probably half of what I write might equally well be classified as senryu, although that’s as hard to pin down as haiku. For example, how do you categorise this?

Holds my head on
In the gale

Renga and haiga, no, I’ve not been drawn to those forms. Although I do think that my paintings – I’m a professional artist – have a certain amount in common with my poems. You can see them on if you want to judge for yourself.

6. What advice would you give to aspiring haiku writers?

Stop trying so hard.

7. Where can people read your haiku?



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