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Temporarily closed due to the pandemic

Hello and thank you for your interest in retreating to Anam Cara. From where I sit in my cocoon, it seems that the best we can do at the moment is wait each day to see what the latest developments and instructions are. Because of that, I think we will have to postpone booking retreats until we can find a time that will work safely for everybody. Right now, it sounds like none of us should be going too far from home as well as we should still be spending as little time as possible in close proximity to others. Please let me know how best to reach you, and I'll be in touch as soon as it will be safe to open the retreat for residencies and workshops. In the meantime, I send my best wishes for your safety and good health, Sue

Sue Booth-Forbes, Director
Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat


As announced on the Poetry Ireland web site (https://www.poetryireland.ie/)  in celebration of Ireland's Poetry Day, 2 May 2019, the Winner of the one-week residency at Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat is:

Ella Wagemakers
The Netherlands

apple harvest
how my hands
have ripened

From Maeve:  This haiku was something of a slow burn for me: it was the one that grew on me the most throughout the judging process, if you’ll forgive the pun! The unusual image of hands ripening – alongside the apple crop – is highly original and memorable, with strong wabi sabi. I also love the economy of language in this haiku, with just ten syllables in total, neatly presented in three lines of even length. I enjoyed and appreciated, too, the assonance of the ‘a’ vowels in all three lines and the alliteration of the ‘h’s in Line 2. A worthy winner!

From Kim: This deceptively simple haiku presents, in two clear images – the apples being harvested, and the ageing hands of the poet – the poet’s reflections on a life reaching its own time of ripeness. The kireji is beautifully and subtly done; we follow ‘how my hands’ over the cliff of the end of the second line into the unexpected and luminous image in the third line:  ‘have ripened’, opening up the possibilities of our own interpretations of what the poet’s life has been or is becoming.

And the Runners Up (awarded a selection of haiku editions from Alba Publishing) are:

Lynne Rees
Offham, Kent, UK

turning sixty
I throw another chilli
in the home-made stew

From Maeve: This strong and witty senryu struck me on first reading and continued to do so each time I read it during the judging process. I love the spontaneous abandon with which the speaker is determined to ‘spice up’  his or her later years, the chilli providing the perfect metaphor for this act. There is great assonance with the ‘i’s in Lines 1 & 2, also with the ‘o’s in Lines 2 & 3. The inclusion of the adjective ‘home-made’ underlines the speaker’s  commitment to self-nourishment.

From Kim: A fine senryu that conveys the ‘devil may care’ attitude that can creep up on all of  us as we reach our own ‘pantaloon’ – Shakespeare’s sixth age.  The poet has given us an image to which we can relate, bringing the human experience right into the personal and home-spun (‘home-made’).

Julie Warther
Dover, Ohio, USA

each place
you've touched me
in the sand

From Maeve: This was another haiku that grew on me over the judging period. The poet here uses 2-3 types of imagery: one of touch, one image, and a third one in the suggestion of wave sound, all without using any regular adjectives or adverbs. The poet also creates a subtle erotic and emotional resonance, as well as the suggestion of impermanence, both geographical and interpersonal. All of these techniques result in a very effective and moving haiku.

From Kim: The unusual four-line structure gives emphasis to the ‘ripples’, the turning point of this delicate and very personal haiku. The understated eroticism implied in the image is tempered and opened up by the final line ‘in the sand’. Sand implies the passing of time and the transient nature of life  (the hourglass held by the figure of Death) – and, perhaps in this case, of relationships.

 Highly Commended

Goran Gatalica: 

falling petals…
too many shapes
of my solitude

Mary White: 

herbaceous border
an old woman tamping
in divided roots

Andy McLellan:  

plum blossom
the easy part
of dying

Cezar Ciobika:

petals in the wind
my mother puts on again
her old wedding dress

Anton Floyd:  

mackerel clouds
crazing the blue enamel
summer day

Julie Warthe:  

still growing wings
a breeze lifts and lowers
the chrysalis

Tracy Davidson:  

copper pheasant
a hint of metal
in the poacher’s stew

William O'Sullivan: 

last orchid flower
a child’s winter jacket


Mary Lavery Carrig:

turning noiselessly
in the hospital chapel
a soft bible page

Jay Friedenberg:  

ivy-covered monument
the slow death
after death

Breda Wall Ryan:  

mother's burial
under the church gable
broken nest

Dan Julian:  

out of the blue
a cricket song among
the skyscrapers

Anne L. Curran:  

he reaches
for her hand –
school dance

Ciarán Parkes:  

a single magpie
my eyes can’t rest
until they find his mate

Sandra Simpson:  

country cemetery –
the lamb’s mothering cry

Alan Summers:  

oak and alder
the firecrest weaves
a restless song

Eduard Tara:

winter twilight
her words still
inside the silence

William O'Sullivan:  

new year's eve harbor
inside the wind

Judges’ Comments on the Anam Cara 2019 Haiku Competition

There were 108 sets of entries to this competition, yielding around 250 individual haiku. The standard of our longlist of 65 was very good, and we had a number of conversations via email and Skype,  and one in person, before whittling it down to a shortlist of 21. From this selection, the overall winner and the two runners-up emerged with a high level of agreement between the two of us. We also decided to award a ‘highly commended’ status to eight of the shortlisted haiku/senryu and a ‘commended’ to the ten others.

Time and space don’t permit a detailed commentary on these 18, but we found all of the haiku/senryu on the shortlist to be very enjoyable and thought-provoking to read. They all had memorable imagery and original, expert use of language, presenting what the late Martin Lucas referred to as ‘haiku as poetic spell’, in his essay of the same title. It’s striking how many of them involved flowers, blossoms and petals. Well done all of you!

About the Judges

Maeve O’Sullivan works in further education in Dublin. Her poems and haiku have been widely published, anthologized, awarded and translated. She has published four collections with Alba Publishing: Initial Response, Vocal Chords, A Train Hurtles West and Elsewhere. Maeve is a founder of the Hibernian Poetry Workshop and Haiku Ireland and performs with the Poetry Divas. She also leads workshops in haiku and writes book reviews for various literary journals.

Kim Richardson works in publishing and lives near London, England. He mostly writes and publishes haiku and haibun, his work appearing regularly in haikai journals. He has also had work anthologised and is a past winner of the Museum of Haiku Literature Award. Double Rainbow (2005) – co-authored with Maeve O’Sullivan – and Night Ferry (2018, shortlisted for The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Books Award 2018) constitute his published collections. www.albapublishing.com

Both Maeve and Kim have writtten about their own creative processes in Diving into the Mystery: Studies in the Creative Process, published by Anam Cara Publishing to raise funds for Pieta House, whose mission is to support those dealing with suicidal and self-harm ideation.  It is on sale for €12 plus postage at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and all proceeds go to Pieta House.