Poetry in Sounds – Bull Island Haiku


Pat Boran’s haiku sequence (or rensaku) explores the flora and fauna of Dublin Bay’s (North) Bull Island, a land mass formed by the changing currents in the bay after the construction of the North Bull Wall (between 1820–25) in an effort to improve access to the port.

Boran’s rhyming haiku observe the interplay of bird, human and plant life on the island, and celebrate the delicate balance of a biosphere on the very doorstep of Ireland’s capital city.

The book is illustrated by the author’s own photographs of the island, taken over the course of a year of daily visits.



Waves themselves, their wings

flashing silver when they turn

as one – the starlings.


The sky and the sea.

And that faint line in between,

drawn as if for me.


Maids from Cabra West,

Painted Lady butterflies

up from Marrakech …


All day by the sea,

meeting my own footprints now

out to look for me.


Old man in a car

staring out to sea, Tosca

singing from the heart.


Here’s our own selves there

in the water, looking up,

moonlight in our hair.


First, a mystery,

the absence of things. And then?

Then the land, the sea …



The fragility and transience of seascapes

The human–nature relationship



To participate:

Participation is free and open to everyone. For more information and to upload your composition, visit the Poetry in Sounds’ page.


The deadline to submit your composition is 28th October 2021


For the next couple of months, the prizes will be provided by Kilohearts, a Swedish company creating a new generation of audio plugins that focus on workflow, providing artists with all the software effects they need for professional music production and sound design.

1st PRIZE: Kilohearts Toolbox ULTIMATE

Kilohearts Toolbox ULTIMATE contains Phase Plant, Multipass, Snap Heap and Kilohearts’ entire range of regular and premium effects plugins.

2nd and 3rd PRIZE:

1x Kiloheart Standard coupon (worth €30)


Further information:

‘Waveforms: Bull Island Haiku’ is published by Orange Crate Books and distributed by Dedalus Press.

PAT BORAN was born in Portlaoise in the Irish midlands in 1963 and has long since lived in Dublin. He has held a number of positions as Writer-in-Residence, including with Dublin City Libraries and Dublin City University, as well as with the Western Education and Library Centre in Co. Fermanagh. He is a former Programme Director of the Dublin Writers Festival, a former presenter of both The Enchanted Way and The Poetry Programme on RTÉ Radio 1, and continues to contribute to a number of programmes on the station, including the highly popular Sunday Miscellany. He is also a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review.




Pat Boran says:

“Opening with aquatic, rhythmic & almost danceable sounds, this piece explores fittingly granular textures and merges them with an intriguing melody (two small steps followed by a gentle fall), making this a distinctive, positive-feeling and engaging piece, quite some distance from the music I might have had in mind myself when I wrote the book, but perhaps all the better for that. Rather than provide a backdrop to the haiku, Flashing Silver seems to move off in a new direction. In doing so, the fact that it hangs so much on making a groove an intimate part of its response seems all the more welcome: there’s nothing in the ‘rulebook’ that says haiku has to be without play or humour, and of course in these particular haiku I have myself introduced an ingredient that is normally rarely present or there only by accident — i.e., rhyme. The melodic confidence here makes this an unforgettable piece that takes the haiku as perhaps only a starting point but is also a reminder that spoken word and music can be brave and distinctive in trying out new ways to respond to and communicate with each other.”


Pat Boran says:

“Despite what I expect is the natural aversion one’s own voice, this piece quickly won me over, opening with a risky investment in melody and rhythm, counterpointed by the scene-setting of breaking waves. For me the haiku sequence of the original book is very much about rhythms, long and shorter, about how they blend and interfere and surprise each other, and those ideas feel very much echoed in this work which, rather than provide a continuous backdrop, attempts to respond to them in short, focused expressions, varying from the opening, almost spritely mood through an acoustic guitar part to a Satie-inspired piano piece, etc. There’s a risk, of course, in combining many distinct movements, but there’s enough atmospheric and narrative sequencing to hold the piece together and and strongly suggest a kind of mini documentary in itself.”


Pat Boran says:

“Tumbling waves set the scene and introduce dulcimer sounds and chimes, suggestive of the wind, and punctuated by birdsong recordings. A cross between location recording, studio atmospherics and a subtle, evocative score that bravely suggests more drama that the otherwise minimalist setting might conjure.”

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