I’m in the middle of preparing a workshop for the Dunbar writers’ group. The majority wanted to know about Japanese forms, so I’m developing a narrative on which we can hang a variety of forms. I’m hoping we might be able to develop this into a performance piece for later in the year. I’ve taken the theme from the life and times of Thomas Blake Glover – the Fraserburgh-born merchant who made several fortunes in Japan in the 19th century, helped his friends to overthrow the last Shogun, and who to this day is lauded as a hero in Japan. I’m changing his story and transposing it to Dunbar, and I’m calling it ‘The Dunbar Butterfly’, in honour of Glover’s mistress (who was Puccini’s model for Madame Butterfly). Those who want to read more of the real Glover story in novel form could do no better than to get hold of Alan Spence’s fine book The Pure Land.
I’m hoping to cover haiku, senryu, haibun, tanka, sedoka, somonka, a short renga and a death poem in the course of the workshop.