Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku

John Barlow & Matthew Paul

Wing Beats

320 pages
177 mm x 127 mm / 7" x 5" (page size)
ISBN 978-1-903543-24-5

Written and compiled by John Barlow and Matthew Paul, illustrated by Sean Gray, and with a foreword by Stephen Moss, Wing Beats features 323 haiku and 131 species of British birds. Extensive informative texts also explore both British avifauna and the history and intricacies of haiku poetry, considering the relationships between these in a global context.

Praise for Wing Beats

‘This volume of haiku about birds and what it means to encounter birds in the landscape achieves the near impossible. It captures the deepest feelings and the most minute observations in the fewest words possible—a triumph of seeing, expression and poetic control.’
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist

‘In Wing Beats, the brief, Japanese-style haiku becomes an absolutely first-rate medium for capturing those fleeting moments all bird-lovers prize. The birds in these poems glide, poke, and zip across the many different landscapes of Britain, punctuating the wind and the sounds of human activity. Substantial appendices discuss how experience and tradition combine to freshen our understanding of the seasons in haiku. I find Wing Beats full of acute observations, artistically moving, and intellectually stimulating—a very important book.’
—William J. Higginson
Author, The Haiku Handbook, Haiku World, etc.

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enough grey light
for the greenshank’s shadow . . .
rain across the bay

   John Barlow

blighted chestnut
the uppermost starlings
trigger a leaf

   Matthew Paul


   John Barlow


‘No other anthology I have seen in recent years offers such a consistently high quality of poems.’

‘The engagement of Wing Beats with the minutiae of birds, their locality and their history is entertaining and illuminating. There is much here that is fascinating, much that is perceptive . . . it is a book that will be studied and mined for its accuracy for years to come.’
Stylus Poetry Journal

‘The poems in this volume are worthy heirs to three great traditions: the British love of nature, especially birds; the poetic approach of John Clare, rooted in observation and reality but taking the reader to a higher plane; and finally, of course, the long and venerable tradition of haiku. By combining these, the writers have produced something truly unique: beautifully written yet easily accessible poetry that helps us reconnect with the natural world in a deeper, more intense way.’
Stephen Moss, from the Foreword