Conversation 13: THE DAILY HAIKU INTERVIEWS: Phil Barnett

My name is Phil Barnett, I’m a web designer by profession and I live with my partner Jackie in South Lancashire.  

My introduction to writing poetry has been, in large part, through haiku. I’m a very keen photographer and an attempt to write vaguely poetic captions to photographs evolved into haiku-like short poems and then actual haikus.

The challenge then became to write something that would stand up on its own two feet, without the prop of a photo to hold it up. While I’m hopefully successful at this at times, I know that at other times the words collapse into a heap, without their visual crutch.

I love the idea that I can be at home, maybe lying in bed, mentally moving some words around and then….sparks!  These everyday words, the ones we use all the time, the right ones in a certain order, can perform a wonderful alchemy.  From the base metal of the commonplace can come the gold of something poetic.

It’s a magic that everyone has access to – all the time – word magic! 

Unlike musicians, who have to carry to their instruments around or painters with their easels – to produce their art – the poet has ready access to the stuff of creativity at all times. This raw material of words hovers round in the mind just waiting for you to breathe poetic life into it. The words are birds looking for a place to land.

The enjoyment I got from writing these nuggets of haiku encouraged me to try writing longer poems. This is something which I’ve found very rewarding, have had several published and have found a publisher for a book of poems – hopefully next year.

I am a person with wide ranging interests, so am in lots of Facebook groups from ‘Cumbria Lichens’ to ‘Electronic Music’ – well over a hundred in fact!  However The Daily Haiku is the one that I find, by far, the most rewarding.

Being very supportive and easy going it feels like a “safe-space” that every day sees a diverse burst of creativity from the members.  The seed of the day’s theme has the effect of “letting  a thousand flowers bloom”.

I like the fact that it caters equally for beginner and experienced writers. It caters for those purists  who want to dive deep into the rich art of traditional haiku, as well as those who take a more relaxed approach to the “rules” of haiku and regard the theme as just a starting point – a spur to  creativity.

It’s wonderful to see complete beginners – who perhaps have never written anything creatively before – dipping a tentative toe into the haiku pond.  And then being delighted with the results, bolstered by the supportive feedback they receive.

The daily theme is a choice-limiter – in a good way – having too many choices often stifles creativity.  So the theme has the effect of focussing the mind, often taking it in unexpected directions that it wouldn’t have taken if left to its own devices. In this way I find that my “creative itch” gets scratched every day.

Some members haves spoken about the lifeline that the group has provided during the last difficult year. For me it has something of the feel of a Christmas advent calendar that I got as a child. Waking in the morning I’d suddenly, excitedly remember – “oh yes, I’ve got a window to open” –  now replaced now by “oh yes there’s the Daily Haiku theme!”

fishing boat moon hauls
in the catch, silver bellies
last remnants of day

 

 

 

 

Phil Barnett imagesbetween water and fall
between in breath and out
only stillness

 

 

 

9 Comments on “Conversation 13: THE DAILY HAIKU INTERVIEWS: Phil Barnett”

  1. It has been great to read Phil’s haiku and longer poems. As a keen nature observer also I see these written words as another method of observation, looking at the world in a different way and encouraging to reader to view with refreshed eyes.

  2. I love the idea of an advent calendar reveal with the daily themes on THE DAILY HAIKU – it perfectly sums up my own excitement when I see what theme has made it to the top of the poll. I also love the collaborative-reveal that goes on where everyone has been involved in both creating the inspirational prompts and turning them into creative responses. Your work is always very rich in terms of word and image, the photography is extraordinary and something that I would like to learn more about from you. But what is most evident is the way you are deeply tuned into the natural world around you and how this can be something that really nurtures and sustains us. Having just watching David Attenborough’s Witness Statement last night, I feel there is a real sensitivity and desire to preserve this environment within your own creative practice. Your haiku have a philosophical and meditative quality that transcends their earthly roots giving them the power to transport us to new mindscapes within your naturescapes. I look forward to finding a Phil Barnett haiku post, you bring a joyful moment to my day and I am sure many others. This positivity filters through into your empathetic approach to other members in the group, the ability to enthuse, encourage and inspire. Thank you.

  3. It was nice to a chance to read this interview with an experienced Haiku lover, who mentioned everything we were delighted to hear and was encouraging to beginners with no experience too. Inspiring us. Very grateful.

  4. I’d forgotten that I’d written “The words are birds looking for a place to land.’ – but they really are! – I wrote this this morning

    The Dream Thrush

    When I was a boy my grandad told me about the trials he went through. He suffered lifelong serious effects of having been gassed while in the first world war trenches.

    He went a long time without finding work, and with the ill health, things were hard

    One night he dreamt that a song thrush sang “it’s day it’s day” (he loved birds and I got my love of them partly from him).

    He took it as a hopeful sign and shortly after he found work.

    A few days ago I wrote a poem which included words:

    then at last a song thrush sang
    “it’s day, its day”
    the thrush from my grandfather’s dream
    all those years ago
    and because this time I sang along
    it was day

    The full poem is here
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/THEDAILYHAIKU/permalink/418844795850175

    A poem which by the way arrived, unusually, fairly fully formed on Monday night.

    The idea that he had this dream and now nearly hundred years later here it is in my poem – is one I like a lot.

    My grandad connected to his young self in his old-man telling of it. And I connected to my boyhood self in my telling of it. And me to his selves.

    And he’s connected, via me, to everyone who reads this.

    That’s a whole web of connections across the decades.

    And even with the thrush itself, that he dreamt and in a way made real. Almost as if a half thrush was there already he dreamt life it it.

    And with me writing about it, and writing *this* about it, and you reading *this* about it more feathers are breathed onto the thrush – animating it further.

    Thrush – granddad – me – you – like nodes in a web of co-creation.

    Wing feathers finally and it can fly. It’s a hopeful thrush.

    it sings

    “it’s day, its day”

  5. What a great interview! I love your enthusiasm and your description of the magic of writing haiku – ‘ From the base metal of the commonplace can come the gold of something poetic.’ This is so well illustrated in your haiku.

  6. A great read, Phil. With your closeness to the natural world you were bound to find haiku—or perhaps it found you!

    Well done also on your longer poems and I hope the publishing experience goes well.

    marion

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