Episode 45: Brent Hagen – Jimi Halloween and Spooky Senryu

The Japanese tradition of Jimi Halloween sees participants celebrate the mundane moments in life from taking a sip of coffee while wearing your face mask to mistaking a plastic bag for a cat or hesitating to board an elevator. You can find more examples here.

For today’s guest, Brent Hagen, this celebrating of the mundane is in the same spirit as senryu. Senryu is a Japanese form similar to haiku but which focuses on human foibles, often in a humorous way. A couple of famous examples are:

Bury me when I die
Beneath a wine barrel In a tavern.
With any luck
The cask will leak.
Morikya Sen-an (d. 1838)

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house casually
Kobayashi Issa

And some by Brent:

aren’t nearly as anxious
as they seem

having to wear glasses
isn’t depressing
anytime I want
i’ve got impressionism

thanks, sequoia
for rescuing
the color orange

Exercise: Write a spooky senryu

If you try to observe and pay attention to the world around you, you will start to notice the small moments that are celebrated in senryu and Jimi Halloween costumes. Things you hear in conversation and read in the paper can also spark ideas. For Halloween try writing something with a spooky twist, but which is also frightfully mundane. Here’s an example from Brent:

Do you hear that?
That sound?
It’s the
of drip

We’d love to read your senryu so please share them here for possible inclusion on the blog or on future podcasts.

Brent Hagen is a poet who enjoys teaching English in Tokyo. He has a particular fondness for puns, which he views as haiku on vacation.

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Poem: A Photo From ’68 by Will Ingrams

Will Ingrams responds to Alan Parry’s prompt to write a poem in response to an old photo. It’s always good to get poems inspired by the podcast and nice to share another one from Will who contributed his own prompt for the NaPoWriMo podcast.

A Photo From ’68

You, with the freckles and mole,
your not-long-enough hair and
that old donkey jacket, flashed
in the photobooth; Geoff there
too, looking equally vacant, what
in a teenage hell were you at?

We’d ridden the miles into town,
Lambretta, him, a Vespa me,
searching for something (shoes,
or a record?), but crammed in the
booth for a strip of damp photos;
this the survivor, and me.

But Geoff? I would tabulate
tunes for his guitar, hits of
the day, and feel less unwanted.
Was not of the in-crowd, that
dull Sixties Dick; we’d scooter
to Exbury, halves at the club.

A life totters, standing on
shells of friends cast-off,
deceased or mislaid, left behind
when your bus pulled away,
rattled on to the next stop,
a cold, draughty station.

Will Ingrams

Event: Monuments – Art and Poetry at Norwich Historic Churches Trust October 22 2022

I’m excited to be reading at this art and poetry event on Saturday, October 22, having been invited by former podcast guest Alex Russell. It’s being held in one of Norwich’s many ancient churches from 10am to 8pm with performance and poetry from 3-6pm.

Monuments is an exhibition of art, performance, and poetry at Norwich Historic Churches Trust headquarters, St Martin-at-Palace Church. As the church is listed we are unable to attach anything to the walls, so artists involved will have to think outside the box about how to utilise the space. The exhibition is interested in how things persist through time, how the way we interact with them changes, and how they may last far into the future. We are looking for work that considers the passage of time, decay, and restoration. The pasts in our future, and the futures in our past.

Art –
Lauren Richeda
Ken Hurst
Niki Medlik
Tori Ames
Ian Chapman & Jon Page & Tim Sillence
Jazz Owen
Chloe Lees
Cara Lees
Jessica Copping
Jonathan Trayner & Jamie Dyson
Jo Morton
Stevie Maguire
Alicia Rodriguez
James Kessell & Joe Hedinger

Readings and Performances from –
Annie | Angus Brown
Nick Ward
Honor Ash
Alex Russell
Jakob Millard
Patrick Widdess


If you have any spoken word events in Norwich or nearby you’d like to share please send the details here.

Event: Last Poet Standing Poetry Slam with John Osborne, October 12, 2022

John Osborne Picture: Katie Pope

It’s the monthly poetry slam at Last Pub Standing, Norwich hosted by former podcast guest Olly Watson and with another former guest John Osborne headlining.

Olly writes:

“It’s Poetry Jim, but not as we know it.” Poetry for people who don’t like poetry, or can’t even read. Loud, raucous, heart warming, tender, might even make you cry. 
6 poets battle it out for your votes. 3 minutes each to capture your hearts and minds.

Headlining this month we have the incredible John Osborne. 

‘His work has a winning gentleness, a seductive voice that draws you in, ensnares you and captivates you.’ – Ian McMillan.

“Yes, I like these poems. There is a warmth, as you’d expect with a balaclava in the title.” 
John Hegley.

“John writes with the intelligence and wit of your favourite teacher but with the soul of a five-year-old boy. His poems capture the ‘un-finger-put-on-able’ moments.” 
Laura Dockrill.

Think that says it all, too good to miss. 

If that wasn’t enough, we have the soon to be world famous Vegan Meat Raffle.

All hosted by local poet, comedian and National Poetry Slam Finalist Olly Watson.
If you would like the chance to slam gives us a shout at: thelastpoetstanding@outlook.com 

If you have any spoken word events in Norwich or nearby you’d like to share please send the details here.

Event: Café Writers with George Szirtes and Jane Wilkinson October 10, 2022

The always excellent Café Writers returns for its first in-person event in nearly three years with two outstanding poets.

George Szirtes’s twelfth book of poems, Reel (2004) won the T S Eliot Prize for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest is Fresh Out of the Sky. (2021). His memoir The Photographer at Sixteen (2019) was awarded the James Tait Black Prize in 2020. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a co-winner of the International Booker translator’s prize, with his own books in various languages including Italian, German, Chinese and Hungarian as well as individual poems in many others. His international prizes include the Déry Prize in Hungary, the People and Poetry Prize in China, and the Bess Hokin Prize in the USA. He has also written for children, radio, stage and texts for music.

Jane Wilkinson currently lives in Norwich, and is a landscape architect and writer. This year she was shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Portfolio Prize. She won the Poetry Society’s Hamish Canham Prize in 2021; was placed 1st & 2nd Guernsey International Poetry Prize; placed 1st in the Strokestown International Poetry Prize and received Norfolk Prize at Café Writers competition in 2020. She was shortlisted for the Alpine Fellowship and placed 1st in the Against the Grain Press competition 2019 and is published in magazines including Under the Radar, Magma, Lighthouse Journal, The Alchemy Spoon, Ink Sweat & Tears, Envoi, Finished Creatures, Fenland Reed and anthologies with Emma Press, Live Canon and Dempsey & Windle.

This event will be held at the Maddermarket [Entrance St John’s Alley, Norwich NR2 1DR]. Doors will be open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. We are suggesting a donation of £3 for those who attend. The venue includes a bar.

More details of other events and the Café Writers competition available here.

If you have any spoken word events in Norwich or nearby you’d like to share please send the details here.

Event: Toast Poetry – Norwich Arts Centre, October 9

Toast Poetry returns to the Norwich Arts Centre this Sunday (October 9, 2022). There are no acts listed but you can be assured a friendly, entertaining evening with some of the top spoken word artists in the country and local talent on the open mic.

Tickets available here

If you have any spoken word events in Norwich or nearby you’d like to share please send the details here.