Haiku: Sunlight on her Wings

an oystercatcher in flight above the water

filled with love
her lasting footprint
in this world

© Xenia Tran

an oystercatcher rising through the sky next to a rainbow

This post is dedicated to our dear haiku friend Kristjaan from Carpe Diem Haiku Kai who lost his mother to Covid-19.

Our thoughts are with him and his family at this difficult time and with all of you who recently lost a loved one.

Wishing you a peaceful Sunday and a blessed week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/6.5 – 1/1600 s – ISO 1000, f/5.6 – 1/125 s – ISO 100 and f/5 – 1/800 s – ISO 400.

Carpe Diem Haiku Kai: Memories of a Loved One

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #131: Emotions

Tanka: New Year’s Day

part of a large driftwood tree on the beach covered in frost

winter moon
her frost flowers
crystallise
ancestral blessings
from this year to the next

© Xenia Tran

close up of part of a large driftwood tree covered in frost

Wishing you all a blessed, happy and healthy New Year!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/200 s – ISO 100, f/5.6 – 1/80 s – ISO 160 and f/5.6 – 1/125 s – ISO 320.

Carpe Diem #1842: End of Year

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #171: New Year’s Day

Tanka Thursday: Year

Looking Back at 2020: Thank you for the Love

The year began full of promise and we had a new pair of swans moving into the river before any of us had heard of Covid-19. Two days into Spring we went into lockdown and travel restrictions weren’t lifted until early July.

Many of us had to find new ways of working and being and I want to thank all of you who shine a light and are an inspiration to others.

The emphasis this year was on collaboration and I contributed forty-eight poems to a variety of journals, videos, anthologies and works of art.

My heartfelt gratitude for all our readers who read, comment and share our posts on social media. Below are the ones you liked best, together with some other highlights from each season.

redshank snoozing and sunning on tidal sands

We went into full lockdown on 23 March 2020 and focused on the beauty found in our local environment. In late Spring we revisited, virtually, a lovely fishing village we had travelled to the previous December in The Pier at Findochty. This was the most popular post in Spring and would become the most popular post of the year.

The other most popular posts in Spring were Lily of the Valley, Pink Flow, Lunaria Annua, Little Blue Flower and Yellow Curve.

Spring also saw haiku poets from around the world contribute to EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 in honour of the Year of the Nurse. I contributed six haiku to this collaboration, two of which were later anthologised.

macro shot of a bumble bee feeding on lavender, seen from behind

Travel restrictions were lifted at the beginning of July and the Highlands were crowded with tourists from other parts of the country. We waited for everything to settle and did more virtual travelling, this time to Belfast, in order to pay homage to one of the teachers who inspired me in A Moment of Inspiration.

The other five most popular posts in the Summer were Angel’s Share, Morning Glory, Earthlight, Sweet Inspiration and Summer Meadow.

Summer also saw me guest-host the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme of Sanctuary.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

In Autumn we entered a Tier system according to the number of Covid-19 infections and people from higher tiers were prevented from travelling to lower tiers. This resulted in a huge reduction of tourists and we could walk more safely throughout the Highlands, which was in Tier 1, without running into visitors from high Covid areas.

The most popular posts in Autumn were Truly Tranquil, Walking Wonderland, Starlings on the Roof, Highland Heather, Along the Loch Shore and Harvest Moon.

Autumn also saw the publication of The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, edited by Robert Epstein, which includes three of my poems, Bundled Wildflowers, edited by Bryan Rickert, which includes one of my poems and the Dutch anthology Aan het Woord 2020, edited by Ferre Denis, Maria de Bie and Nol Hovens, which includes three of my poems. In addition, one new poem was featured in the Haiku-kantelkalender (Haiku Calendar) 2021, edited by Ferre Denis. Falling Petals received an honourable mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and ten haiku were featured in the World Haiku Series with Japanese Translations by Mr Hidenori Hiruta.

a red squirrel on a wooden squirrel feeder in a pine tree

After a busy Autumn we stayed closer to home as Winter rolled in and the temperatures dropped. It became a time for Christmas socials via Zoom and catching up with friends at a safe social distance.

The most popular posts in Winter were Treasures, The Name of the Flower, Making Lemonade, All Souls’ Night, Lines at Dusk and When Winter Melts Away.

Winter also saw forty of my images published in Frameless Sky Issue 13 where I was the Featured Artist and the release of the beautiful anthology Dance Into the Light, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, featuring one of my poems.

A very big thank you to the editors and publishers who featured my work throughout the year.

seagulls feeding in the surf

This has been a year like no other and we sadly lost a number of friends and members of our writing community to Covid-19 and to cancer without being able to say goodbye in the way we normally would.

It has also been a year of growing and connecting in new ways and of communities coming together.

A huge thank you to Frank, Kristjaan, Misky, Ronovan and the team at dVerse Poets for your inspiring poetry prompts, to Brian, Christine, Emily, Heather, Katherine, Ping, Punam, Kristian and Sheryl for your wonderful word prompts and to Becca, Cee, Jez, Lisa, Paula, Sue & Gerry, Terri and Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti & Tina for your fabulous photographic prompts.

We leave with you a song by Show of Hands that seems fitting for our times:

Thank you again for the love and we wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy 2021.

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidings

Word of the Day Challenge: Wishes

Sunday Stills: Your 2020 Retrospective

Haiku: All Souls’ Night

a snowy winter scene in the Cairngorms

all souls’ night
my great-grandparents
play in the snow

© Xenia Tran

close up of branches and heather covered in heavy snow

These images were taken in November 2017 at the start of a beautiful Winter.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/4 – 1/250 s – ISO 320, f/4 – 1/800 s – ISO 100 and f/4 – 1/320 s – ISO 250.

All Souls’ Night was first published in Autumn Moon Haiku Journal, Volume 4:1, Autumn-Winter 2020-2021. A very big thank you to Bruce Ross for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Sunday Stills: Winter Wonderland

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Leaves and Trees

Your Daily Word Prompt: Optimism

Tanka: Ambient

an abandoned shed in the woods

blackbirds sing
around the cobwebbed shed
a key turns
for a glimpse of you
tapping and chiselling wood

© Xenia Tran

an abandoned shed in the woods

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 400, f/2.8 – 1/160 s – ISO 500 and f/2.8 – 1/80 s – ISO 250.

Ambient was first published in Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3. A very big thank you to Michael McClintock and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #125: You Pick It

Your Daily Word Prompt: Ambient

Word of the Day Challenge: Architecture

Tanka: New World

close up of a small firepit on the beach

words of old friends
create new worlds …
by the firepit
we marvel as the sun sets
in fading lines of surf

© Xenia Tran

a lensball on a rock in the water at sunset

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful new week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/4.5 – 1/40 s – ISO 250, f/5 -1/8 s – ISO 1600 and f/4 – 1/20 s – ISO 800.

New World was first published in Ribbons, Fall 2020: Volume 16, Number 3. A very big thank you to Christine L Villa and the team at Ribbons for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Earthweal Open Link Weekend #43

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #122: The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidbit

Tanka: Only Silence

a church lit up at night with reflections in the water

there is no sound
from the puddles in our street
only silence
where the wind just blew
and rattled all the rafters

© Xenia Tran

light falling through the night sky

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and a peaceful rest of the week,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/5.6 – 1/8 s – ISO 1600, f/6.5 – 1/15 s – ISO 4000 and f/6.5 – 1/1 s – ISO 800.

Only Silence was first published in The Bamboo Hut, Number 4 – 2020. A very big thank you to Steve Wilkinson for featuring my poem and putting this beautiful edition together.

Carpe Diem #1837: Blowing in the Wind

Haiku: Falling Petals

detail from a piece of pastel art featuring a woman

falling petals
he finds his mother
behind the rain

© Xenia Tran

pastel art of a woman appearing through a rain of cherry blossom

Working with pastels has been a hobby for many years and in my younger years my pieces were on display in cafés, art centres and at a local hospital.

My poems are mostly inspired by real-life experiences and sometimes by a dream or meditation. The above haiku was inspired by a dream and I tried to re-create the moment that sparked the poem in this painting.

I am deeply honoured and delighted that this poem was awarded an Honourable Mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. A big thank you to judges Agnes Savich, Beth Skala and Gary Hotham for selecting my poem and many congratulations to all the winners.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs and original art (soft pastel on glass paper) by Xenia Tran.

Word of the Day Challenge: Hobby

Haiku: Harvest Moon

zoomed image of Harvest Moon behind side of a pylon

harvest moon
climbing a pylon
in the night sky

© Xenia Tran

harvest moon glowing gold in a dark night sky

Thank you again for all your good wishes before we went on our blogging break and we hope you had a good week too.

These images were taken a couple of nights ago when the moon had a lovely glow.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and happy moon-gazing when we see the full moon tomorrow,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Frank J Tassone’s Weekly Haikai Challenge #158: Harvest Moon

Word of the Day Challenge: Sustain

Thursday’s Special: Pick A Word 2020-2 (Lunar)

A Moment of Inspiration

Regular readers of this blog will know that the natural beauty of our world is a constant source of inspiration to me and today I am showing you what lies behind the way my photographs and poems are shared together.

It all began during a week’s Summer School at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast, and my visit to the Linen Hall Library in July 2007.

a man with a hat reading a paper in a library

Images and Reflections, both as book and exhibition, was one of the landmarks of the Linen Hall Library’s Open Door Millennium Festival and also marked the opening of the Library’s extended premises. It brought together vivid photographs of the Ulster of the last century with powerful contemporary writing by many of the province’s leading literary figures.

Seamus Heaney selected a photograph from the 1930s of a threshing scene that fitted perfectly with his poem Threshing Day. Michael Longley chose a photograph of a towpath of the early 1900s to accompany his poem In Memory of My Parents. Brian Keenan selected an old photograph of children at a cottage in Glenoe and created the poem Album to sit alongside it. Gerald Dawe immediately decided on a photograph of an emigrant family leaving Derry in the 1930s and knew that was the image he wanted to write a poem for.

Graduation Hall at Queen's University, Belfast

Gerald was leading our poetry workshop on writing poems for and from photographs as part of the Summer School. He told us that the photograph of the emigrant family leaving Derry was pinned to a board above his writing desk for months and he enjoyed spending time with it, growing familiar with the faces inside the photograph and when the Linen Hall Library asked him if they could have a poem for the exhibition he approached it from within the image and wrote it in the mother’s voice. It is a beautiful poem called Snap, symbolising both the idea of a snapshot and the being snapped away from a life they knew.

The poem has since been included in his Selected Poems (published in 2012).

Queen's University Belfast with Summer flowers

Prior to my week in Belfast my photography and my writing had been separate interests and I rarely brought the two together. Since then I’ve written poems to accompany photographs from a variety of angles and taken photographs to accompany existing poems. I will always be grateful to Gerry for sharing his insights during his wonderful workshop.

Images and Reflections is a book I treasure to this day and it continues to inspire me. It is available from the Linen Hall Library and from Amazon.

Wishing you a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #115: Inspiration

Your Daily Word Prompt: Vivify