(18 May 1930 – 2 August 2015)
Ken Jones was not only a haiku poet, contributing regularly to UK haiku magazines and represented in British and American anthologies. He also played an important part in pioneering the Western development to the haibun - an ancient Japanese prose poetry genre.
Kenneth Henry Jones was born on 18 May 1930. His career was mainly in higher education, with most of his spare time spent as a peace, ecology and social justice activist, as well as a period on the Samaritans' telephone helpline. He was a founder of the UK Network of Socially Engaged Buddhists, and its president, and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. After many years of Buddhist training, Ken became a Zen and Ch'an practitioner and teacher of 30 years' standing. He published widely and contributed regularly to UK and US haiku magazines, as well as being represented in British and American anthologies.
Ken Jones was until 2013 one of three editors of the print journal, Contemporary Haibun, and the online journal Contemporary Haibun Online. For his contribution to Pilgrim Foxes: Haiku and Haiku Prose, co-authored with Jim Norton and Sean O’Connor, Ken was awarded the Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai. He resided in Ceredigion, Wales with his Irish wife, Noragh.
His recent death on 2 August 2015 was a huge loss both to his family and friends and to the haiku community. The impressive scope of his style of writing deeply moved readers from all over the world. “...He reaches back into history, literature and art for his images, and into Buddhist philosophy for the expression of his compassion … uniting all these themes there is the wit, the style, the insouciance of the writer...”
George Marsh, Blithe Spirit
Awards and Other Honours:
· The Sasakawa Prize for Original Contributions in the Field of Haikai (2001);
· First place in the 2005 English Language Haibun Contest;
· In 2011 won joint first place in the British Haiku Society's Haibun Contest;
· Bog Cottonwas shortlisted for The Haiku Foundation Touchstone Distinguished Book award 2012.
· The Social Face of Buddhism: A Guide to Social and Political Activism (Wisdom Publications, 1989)
· Beyond Optimism: Political Ecology of Buddhism (Jon Carpenter, 1993);
· Pilgrim Foxes: Haiku and Haiku Prose, co-authored with Jim Norton and Sean O'Connor (Pilgrim Press, 2001);
· Arrow of Stones(British Haiku Society, 2002);
· Summer Dreams: American Haibun & Haiga (co-writer) (Red Moon Press, 2002);
· Stallion’s Crag: Haiku and Haibun (Iron Press, 2003);
· Ageing: The Great Adventure- A Buddhist Guide (Pilgrim Press, 2005);
· New Social Face of Buddhism: A Call to Action(Wisdom Publications, 2005);
· The Parsley Bed: Haiku Stories (Pilgrim Press, 2006);
· Stone Leeks(Pilgrim Press, 2009);
· Bog Cotton(Alba Publishing, 2012);
· Beyond Mindfulness – Living Life through Everyday Zen. Talks and Writings (Alba Publishing, 2015);
· Gone Away – haiku stories (Alba Publishing, due for publication September 2015).
Selected haiku and haibun:
pushing my reflection
full of rain
Strolling for miles
arm in my pocket
hoping she’ll take it
Aging address book
the living squeezed
between the dead
(Blithe Spirit 11:1 (2001)
Under a mackerel sky
the running tide
of my ebbing life
(Blithe Spirit 15:3 (2005)
in the raked gravel
a paw mark
(The Parsley Bed, 2006)
the dancing clothes
stiffen into people
(Frogpond 31:1 (2008)
On the swing
back and forth
this short life
(Modern Haiku 40:1 (2009)
the brightly lit interiors
of other people’s lives
Bad day ahead
I spread honey
to the far corners of my toast
HAIBUN - Rusty Iron
A skyline slot in the shoulder of the mountain. Foaming burns, boot-sucking bog, and the gleaming boiler plates of mica-schist.
sinking in the hoof print
of a deer
Finally I make it over into a closed-off upland. Just below is a long loch, an exclamation mark full stopped by a shining lochan at the far end. Late lunch on a buttock-shaped boulder.
Soda bread and honey
the mountain sits
Other mountains have wished me a happy birthday, but not this one, on my seventy-fifth. There is usually at least a marker stone placed on the occasional boulder; faint signs of a path along the ridge; a boot print here and there. But on this one, nothing. As if no one had ever been here before me.
The firm grip
of the world's oldest rock
on a pair of old boots
On the summit the red wink of my time-lapsed Olympus. And then the mist and rain sweep in. I had marked my escape route on the map.
First rain drop
blotched and running
The way lies down a long spur of broken rockfalls. Falling steeply to left and right, the glens are loud with rushing water. Suddenly, quite close below, a hind appears, bounds this way and that, and disappears over the edge.
The nervous flick
of the compass
before it settles
Feeling nothing but the ground beneath my feet. Thinking of nothing but what's next.
Lower down, and the mist thins. Ahead are the remains of an Edwardian deer fence.
On three legs
a rusty iron upright
(Simply Haiku: Spring 2006, vol.4, no.1)
This profile was created in collaboration with Ken’s friend and publisher Kim Richardson. We are very grateful for his help and support!