A Walkative Haik(u): a walking workshop that makes the essence of haiku accessible to English speakers

SUNDAY 12th MAY 2019

Many thanks to everyone who came along, experienced and contributed poetry to ‘A Walkative Haik(u)’ (Haiku Ginko) in Hyde Park on Sunday 12th May which was led superlatively by haiku poet and critic Yuzo Ono. The images are a selection taken by Simon King, Emma Harry and Ryan McDonagh.

Here are the haiku that we wrote on the day – not all conforming to the content and structure of the classic Japanese form …

BIRDS ON THE FIELD
THE DOG RUNS
FEATHERED SMOKE

STONE COLD MORTALS
REFLECT THE GOLDEN SUN
MEANWHILE, A CONSORT TOPPLES

DISTANT PLANE ROARS
CUT GRASS AIR DRIES
DAISIES PUSHING THROUGH

LURKING TREE BY DAY
BRIGHT PAGE IS QUITE HUMBLE
THE PARK’S STATIONARY

HIDDEN BEHIND TREES
THEN WOBBLING
SNEAKING UP FROM BEHIND

“I AM NOT HERE”
IS A TREE STRIPPED BARE?
OR TWO THOUGHTS HALF FULL

IN PILED FORMATION
EIGHT KNEECAPS CHEER
AGAINST THE YELLOW HEADWIND

THE WIND MEETS
THE GRASS
THEY APPLAUD

STARLING CUTS SKY
DECKCHAIRS REST IN STACKS
MEMORY OF SNOW

PURPLE KNIGHTS
PLANT THEIR FEET,
MAKE THOUGHTS TOO

A LOUD CLICK IN
CONDENSED TIME
TASTES LIKE APPLE

IN THE BOWER SHADE
MUFFLING GRASS HIDES
CADENT RHYTHMS, DISTANT VOICES

HOW THE TREES ARE FOR ME
THE FLOWERS ARE
FOR THE BEE

THE GOLDEN STATUE IS
WAITING FOR THE REVOLUTION
– OR JUST SMILING?

THE TREE TRAPEZE SCHOOL
ADMISSIONS OPEN
FLY NOW

ARE TRAPEZE BOYS
LOVING THEIR BLUE
IN THIS WAY?

HELLO SQUIRREL
NICE THAT YOU CAME TO MY BENCH
WHY RUNNING AWAY?

FRIENDS OF THE GARDENS
DOG TAILS WAG
ROOTS PLANTED TO STAY

A COOT CLICKS
PATTERNS SHIMMER ON THE SURFACE
JUMP AND SPLASH

A LITTLE GIRL TOUCHED MY LEG
HER MUM SAID: “SHE IS A STRANGER, DON’T TOUCH HER”
I’M NOT A STRANGER

I SEE YOU BINOCULAR CHILD
RUSHING, RUSHING

SMILING UP AT LIGHTNING
SOME SAY IT’S LUCK

Walking in Circles. A Walkative drawing on Archaeology at Hampstead Heath led by Fay Stevens.

Sunday 10th March 2019

The Walkative Society gathering around the Hampstead tumulus

‘… the subject of walking is, in some sense, about how we invest universal acts with particular meanings. Like eating or breathing, it can be invested with wildly different cultural meanings, from the erotic to the spiritual, from the revolutionary to the artistic.’ (Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust: A History of Walking).  

‘Perhaps everything lies in knowing what words to speak, what actions to perform, and in what order and rhythm; or else someone’s gaze, answer, gesture is enough; it is enough for someone to do something for the sheer pleasure of doing it, and for his pleasure to become the pleasure of others: at that moment, all spaces change, all heights, distances; the city is transfigured, becomes crystalline, transparent as a dragonfly.’   (Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities)                                                                

The Walkative Society met with the archaeologist, curator, artist and writer Fay Stevens to participate in ‘Walking in Circles: Drawing on Archaeology at Hampstead Heath, London NW3. These were Fay’s pre-walk instructions:

“Hampstead Heath, often referred to as an island of countryside, is a palimpsest of London’s history and landscape. We will focus on the circularity of a feature known as a ‘tumulus’ experimenting with a range of recording / drawing techniques. We will also make a live ‘walking in circles’ performance work. Please bring with you drawing materials (paper, pencil etc.), any other walking/drawing /performance devices you might be working in and a piece of text (either yours or by another author) that you will be happy to read aloud as part of the live performance work.”

Sunday 4th November: A Murmuration of Starlings, Kenji Lim

In what could have been described as a ‘welcome to the neighbourhood’ walk from the RCA Kensington campus to the Battersea campus, we gathered a group of walkers ready to flock together. We were to travel down the streets of Kensington and Chelsea toward and over the Thames, to the bridge where the starlings of London roost, murmurating above the rush hour traffic. 

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Saturday 13th October: Sailing on a Plastic Sea – Foreshore walk, Laura Copsey & Emma Harry

Our drift walk meandered along the River Thames Foreshore between the Alderman Steps and the Prospect of Whitby on an unusually sunny and warm October Saturday. Timed to coincide with an event co-hosted by Sail Britain and The Artist Expedition Society at St Katharine Docks, we aimed to explore the foreshore and raise awareness of the tragic extent of plastic pollution. 

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Sunday 18th March: (Or)Landscape(s): Time Travelling in Bloomsbury, Noble & King

A select and hardy group of wind-whipped Walkativists defied the exceptionally cold weather on Sunday 18th March to gather with walking arts collaborators Noble & King under an oak tree in a Bloomsbury graveyard. This solitary and paradoxically ancient young English Oak in St George’s Gardens served as both a literal and metaphoric starting point for a wild goose chase around the landscape of Bloomsbury. The walk – (Or)landscape(s) – an allusion to Bloomsberian Virginia Woolf’s time travelling and gender switching protagonist in the novel Orlando, but also loosely inspired by the episodic mise-en-scène in Sally Potter screen version – was structured around a performative and dialogic narrative that drew upon literary, historical and psychogeographic quotation as well as palimpsestic and serendipitous fragments encountered by the walkers along the route. Continue reading

Sunday 11th March: A Walk About Architecture and Things, Phil Smith

The walk was surprisingly personal for me. I tried something I have been wanting to for a while. To break away from the prepared (and rehearsed) walk. So I chose an area I did not know well, having walked through it just the once before, a while ago, and a starting point about which I knew very little, but had something – an art deco-ish ornamentation with devils with breasts – that could be a pushing off point. I had no particular theme in mind. I had brought with me various objects – a snowglobe, some raffia-like tape, lobster toy, and so on – most of which I did not use. We did not move very far, over almost 2 hours we covered a couple of hundred metres; I think we probably journeyed further looking for a bar after the walk. Despite the corporate and controlled nature of the space (sometimes because of it) the textures of the spaces were very rich: its prohibitions, world-visions, little gifts (the child’s message that generated such varied interpretations) and draincover symbols. I was surprised how certain shapes threw up such personal associations for me; I have no autobiographical connection with the area and yet kept snagging on the wrinkles in the space. I enjoyed the way that some things performed for us – the TESCO delivery van that reversed across our vision and provided us with a food and produce map of Britain to question – and how other spaces took some effort to squeeze a hint from. It was quite a cold day, perhaps that helped in finding a calmness as we contemplated broken human figures, sewage, the spectacle of state terror, the unreliable origins of freemasonry, among other things. Meaningfulness seemed to be important; how the seemingly trivial, banal, vague or routine in imagery or materials can disguise eccentricity, venal intentions, deep emotions and the numinous.

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Sunday 4th March: Edge Effects, Kenji Lim

After the snow and biting cold of the preceding week the comparatively balmy weather of Sunday morning was a relief for the group of walkers gathered in Richmond Park. This walk was to be somewhat unusual for the Walkative schedule being eight miles through parkland with not a pavement in sight: a circular walk around Richmond Park. The concept of the walk was to examine the ecological characteristics of the park’s environment, its history as a royal park founded on confiscated land, and the experience of following this wall — originally built by Charles I — all the way around until we arrived back at Richmond Gate.

Over the next few hours we followed the paths as close to the wall as we could, at times through mud and on makeshift bridges over small streams. There were sightings of deer, frozen ponds, and ancient trees. We talked about fractured landscapes and fractured monarchy, always with the wall on our left until we arrived back at the beginning.
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Sunday 25th February: Poetogeography, The Death of Christopher Marlowe, Niall McDevitt

Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight And burned is Apollo’s laurel bough – Dr Faustus

The death of Christopher Marlowe is one of the most bewildering stories in the history of English literature. Though Marlowe was murdered by government agents in a government safehouse in Deptford Strand, it was misrepresented as a pub brawl, a myth that persists to this day. Join poet Niall McDevitt for a thoroughgoing exploration of the story, and immersion in Elizabethan history, with a stunning riverside backdrop. We will begin at Island Gardens at the so-called ‘Omphalos’ of the Isle of Dogs; walk under the Thames – yes! – to Greenwich Palace; visit the site of Marlowe’s death and coroner’s inquest; and see his burial place in a pauper’s grave in Deptford Green. We will finish by discussing the 1001 Marlowe conspiracy theories in a Wetherspoon pub in Surrey Quays – hopefully without any poets being murdered.
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