Conversation 10: THE DAILY HAIKU INTERVIEWS: Donall Dempsey

Donall Dempsey – one half of Dempsey and Windle Publishing with my wife Janice in Guildford. Ireland’s First Poet in Residence in a Secondary School. Four books of poetry and has read all over Britain as well as festivals in France, Ireland and India.

I believe haiku is the art of seeing rather than just mere looking. It is a unique view and perspective and awareness all fused into this tiny moment that can say so much. The ordinary in the extraordinary and the extraordinary in the ordinary captured in a fleeting glimpse. I always carry a camera in my pocket and take it for a haiku walk as well… being made more observant by its presence. Photos will provoke haiku and aid in the art of seeing. I also like to write haibun to extend the observation or backstory to the haiku so as to show how it came about. I like the way a haiku will bleed into the prose and both will inform the other.

I also use haiku to write poems letting the original haiku begat another haiku so that it grows a poem.

Great to have people with like minds and on the same frequency. Friendliness and camaraderie and interaction with others. A very enjoyable and entertaining experience. Always a delight to read and be read and show how others will deal with the same prompt. Vive la difference. People being people and poets being poets. Good for the wellbeing especially in these times!


“…the Spinach Armada…”

“…Anne of Cleavage…”

Year 7 get to grips with history


I originally wrote the poem version of this with its narrative drive and all the elements of the class and the teaching. 

The haiku on the other hand just yokes together the two quotes from the kids and then simply states how these innocents try to grasp what is merely sound (but not sense) to them.


cold grey rain

an old 78 colouring it in

in glorious Carmen


And here is a memory of listening to a gramophone like you see in His Master’s Voice ad on an incredibly wet wet grey grey day beyond compare but the voice of the long dead singer (my daughter calls records “the voices of ghosts” and having the miserable day coloured in like a colouring book with Carmen as if it were an emotional crayon that one could use. 

Dónall of the Dempseys.

NOTE: Haibun is a combination fo two poems a prose poem and a haiku.

6 Comments on “Conversation 10: THE DAILY HAIKU INTERVIEWS: Donall Dempsey”

  1. Thank you both for such a wonderful interview. I feel I know you a little better now. I love your style. The children’s, “The Spinach Armada” but especially, “Anne of Cleavage” made me laugh out loud!

  2. You have got to be the teacher in school who every one admires and loves and respects! I love your humor … your imagination … your playfulness … and the love you openly show with your wife, Janice. What a fine example you set for young people and for us oldies who sometimes forget to laugh and have fun. Thank you!

  3. Thank you Carolyn and Connie…the child learning the world( even if they do get 2+2 to be 5)and the love of my wife are the themes that inspire me….they are my windows on life. Thank you taking to time to like this little “conversation” it’s good to talk!

    Dónall of the Dempseys

  4. Thank you Carolyn and Connie…the child learning the world( even if they do get 2+2 to be 5)and the love of my wife are the themes that inspire me….they are my windows on life. Thank you for taking the time to like this little “conversation.” It’s good to talk!

    Dónall of the Dempseys

  5. Donall your take on haiku really resonates with me, the seeing rather than looking, the extraordinary from the ordinary and vice versa, the playfulness, the wonderful examples of the haiku you chose to share. I began using haiku in my own workshop and teaching work, that is how I discovered the form initially and felt that its brevity brought such riches. Your ‘cold grey rain…’ haiku is so evocative and filmic, I love the extended notes on how this haiku was born. My son’s own hilarious and innocent mistake aged 6 after school one day telling us all he had learnt that ‘Hitler was from Australia’. Anne of Cleavage will be forever etched in my mind now and I expect to mistakenly (or maybe purposefully) use it when the conversation so beckons. Looking forward to more of your gorgeous haiku and thank you for sharing your thoughts in this interview Donall.

  6. Thank you, Donall. Hilarious story from schoolchildren. I have a similar experience of ‘seeing’ when I have my camera with me, similar to walking meditation. Good to get to know you better.

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