It is an enormous pleasure to introduce the talented John Barlow: poet, editor, publisher and designer. I can’t remember exactly when and where we first met. It may well have been at one of the annual conferences organised by the British Haiku Society.
John Barlow is the editor of The Haiku Calendar, which has appeared annually since the 2000 edition, and co-editor (with Martin Lucas) of The New Haiku (2002). His other books include Waiting for the Seventh Wave and Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (with Matthew Paul).
John grew up surrounded by fields and woodlands. A keen amateur naturalist, his haiku appear in Where the River Goes: The Nature Tradition in English-Language Haiku, and he has given talks and workshops on haiku for organisations such as New Networks for Nature, Haiku North America, and the RSPB.
His haiku and tanka have received more than 150 awards, including the Modern Haiku Award, The Heron’s Nest Award, the Haiku Presence Award (in 2007, 2010, and 2011), and British Haiku Society Awards (in 2015, 2016, and 2018), while works he has edited have been honoured by the Haiku Society of America and the Poetry Society of America.
In 1997 he founded Snapshot Press, described in Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years as “the most important English-language haiku publishing house outside the United States.” From his published work John has made this selection. Starting with the inventive vertical haiku, it forms a seasonal progression.
under leaden skies the low-slung belly of a river
through her skin
the baby’s heartbeat
fieldfares in alders
each one on sunlight the yellowhammer’s phrases
the riverbed stones warm
beneath my feet
sparroweight the groundsel bends to ground
a nestful of feathers
and tiny skulls . . .
clouds without rain
a hoverfly moves around
a spot of sunshine
crab buckets along the quay the gait of trawlermen
for the fifth day now
the dead fieldmouse
our shadows holding hands the width of the stubble field
inside the clown’s smile the clown’s smile
calls of marsh tits
in the autumn woods
leaves release their rain
a raven’s croak
echoes through stone
for all the wind-borne spores lungfuls of the wood
a stoat arcs into undergrowth thin winter moon
the faint pulse
of out-of-tune strings—