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April 2017, vol 13 no 1

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Lynne Rees

Featured Writer

Some advice on writing haibun

Spend at least a couple of years learning to write haiku first and study the craft of prose writing: point of view, tone, broad and narrow focus, pace and rhythm, structure, significant detail and theme, figurative imagery and symbolism. We need the skills from both poetry and prose camps in order to create haibun that resonate with readers, that make them think and feel.

broken cornets

It is dusk. There are three of us, standing on the kerb in Chrome Avenue, looking up through the sliding window of the pink Tonibell van. One of us asks if he has any broken cornets to give away. We don’t have any money for ice cream. He might have said no, or he might have said, give me your hand and I’ll tell you. Which we will not do. Because we know him.

It doesn’t make sense for an ice-cream van to be doing its rounds at that time. Perhaps my memory has invented dusk for its dramatic effect, that uncertain place between the assurance of afternoon and evening, for the way our faces would have been illuminated by the van’s interior light. But perhaps he was there, at the end of his round, at the beginning of darkness.

Included in that memory are the details of all the other times he stopped in our street. He wore a pink nylon coat. His thin, black hair was smooth against his scalp. His face was plump and red and always seemed to be sweating.

When he hands down our 99s, a cone of soft, whipped ice-cream punctured by a Cadbury’s Chocolate Flake, or when we hold out our hands for change, he presses his fingertips into our palms, lingering there even as we pull away. He leans forward, folds his arms along the edge of the window. Come here, let me tell you something, he says quietly when we're not buying and have no need to get closer.

And we do not tell our mothers. Because it’s not that we fear him exactly. After all, he’s not a stranger we should refuse sweets from. But we know something is wrong. What we don’t know is how to explain it. Or whose fault it is.

what to believe in the rainy streets the sounds of birdsong and traffic

From forgiving the rain (Snapshot Press 2012)

Lynne Rees was co-editor at CHO during 2014 and 2015 and her haibun collection, forgiving the rain, was published by Snapshot Press in 2012. Writer, editor, blogger and writing coach, her most recent books are Real Port Talbot (Seren Books 2013), a psycho-geographical account of her hometown in South Wales UK, and The Hungry Writer (Cultured Llama 2015), 52 food-themed life stories, with accompanying recipes, from France, England and Wales and 365 writing prompts for other writers hungry to explore their craft. She continues to write haiku and haibun sporadically alongside her quiet mission to promote haiku’s power to audiences of unbelievers. You can read a transcript of her presentation, "haiku: poetry of absence or an absence of poetry?" at the PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) 2015 Conference at Canterbury University, Kent, UK on 16th July 2015 at this link. Lynne's homepage is www.lynnerees.com