Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011

Zlata Bogović, Pjesma slavuja / Nightingale's Song: Vladimir Devidé, Vasile Moldovan, Đurđa Vukelić-Rožić, Zvonko Petrović

Petar Tchouhov, Safety Pins: Morelle Smith

Slavko J. Sedlar, Таквост 3 (Suchness 3): Mileta AĆIMOVIĆ IVKOV, Nadja Brankov, Zoran Raonić

Ljubomir Dragović, Uska staza/A Narrow Road: Vladimir Devidé, Mileta Aćimović Ivkov, Dragan Jovanović Danilov, Dimitar Anakiev



Anatoly Kudryavitsky, Ireland

Helen Buckingham, Christmas City: A Haiku Sequence; Othername Press, 2010; 16 pp.; ISBN 978-0-9521806-4-7; Available from Othername Press, 14 Rosebank, Rawtenstall, Rossendale BB4 7RD, England; Priced at £ 1 (£ 1.40 for mail order customers) USD 4.50; Cheques payable to J.C. Hartley & not to Othername Press 









Helen Buckingham was born in  London and now lives in  Bristol. She authored quite a few collections of her haiku, and has had a number of poems published in Shamrock. This time she has had a collection of her Christmas haiku out; it contains 28 texts, all previously published in haiku periodicals. The glossy white cover has an ink drawing by the author on it. This little book follows her critically acclaimed full-length haiku collection, Water on the Moon, published earlier this year.

In this particular collection, all the poems are centred on Christmas. As we all know, Zen Buddhism and Shinto were an integral part of traditional Japanese haiku. Since then, haiku poets rarely align themselves with any other religion, therefore Christianity and haiku is not a usual pairing. There were numerous more or less successful attempts to write Christian 5-7-5-ers, especially in  Ireland, but texts of that kind are destined to remain outside the haiku genre. 

However, we wouldn’t describe Helen Buckingham’s collection as a book of Christian poems. Christmas tree, if appeared there (surprisingly, it doesn’t), would rather be a kigo than an object of worship. Instead of a Christmas tree, we have a cactus in the following lovely piece:

church cactus
its own advent

The author herself is a keen observer, and the results are often amazing:

the snowman’s 
lopsided smile

The reader can ask himself  why we do what we do at Christmas time.

taxi stand
the man in a rabbit suit
fumbles for his watch

Pre-Christmas haste gives place to New Year’s idleness:

New Year’s fireworks –
waking again
with the dog

The author takes us on a short journey in Christmas-time England, and her poems form an interesting mosaic of snapshots. Witnessing life at that time of the year most certainly was an indescribable feeling for the poet. 

Many, if not all, haiku are poems describing our way of living. At the same time, they are a way of living, as R.H. Blyth stated in Haiku, Vol. 2. He went on to say the following: “Haiku offers itself to mankind, not as a substitute for Christianity or Buddhism, but as the fulfilment.” Of course, this is more about writing haiku, however reading them, e.g. going through this collection of Helen Buckingham’s poems, is also a very fulfilling thing to do.


(Published in Shamrock No 16, 2010)