“Moving Galleries” is an on-going project, initiated by a trio of haijin calling themselves Rooku Troupe. They have been instrumental in getting haiku published on decals in Melbourne’s suburban trains.

Here is an interview with a writer who has his haiku currently riding around the Melbourne tracks.

A writer of poetry, haiku, short stories and novels, Michael de Valle’s poetry has featured in both the Moving Galleries pilot and the Spring 2007 Exhibition. Moving Galleries editor, and poet, Leanne Hills, approached Michael to discuss his influences.

LH: What sort of experiences do you draw on in your writing?

MdV: As you probably already know, haiku/senryu/rooku are the main poetic forms that interest me. Sometimes I draw on my own experiences as a starting point, but more often my writing comes out of human observation and circumstance - being open to those moments and details that make us truly human:

she starts to rewrite
her diary

nativity play
an angel
picks her nose

I also draw on my observations of nature because I’m interested in how we interact as humans with our environment, in particular how we relate to animals, insects, birds and plants:

hospital courtyard
told he won’t go home
he watches a butterfly

our old dog
buried in the garden
with all her bones

LH: Being a stay-at-home dad, how does this influence your work?

MdV: I’ve always been interested in writing about the extraordinary moments to be found in ‘ordinary’ life. Being a stay-at-home dad is great because I’ve been able to develop a deeper relationship with my sons and a better understanding of what is really important in our lives together. It feeds my writing because I get to observe my children at close quarters, the way they interact with the world, their relationships, their dreams and aspirations.

LH: Thoughts on love?

MdV: To me, love is as much a choice as it is an emotion. And love is behind some of the hardest choices we make:

together again
under the bed
her shoes and mine

after she leaves
a hair on the pillow
curled into a question

LH: Have you any advice for aspiring poets?

MdV: I don’t know if I have any real advice for poets except that, like all artists and writers, right now we need them more than ever. In many respects they voice the conscience of the world. It’s no coincidence that when dictators come to power they go after the artists, writers, poets and intellectuals first.

Here is Michael’s haiku as it appears on the decal in Connex trains:

children’s playground
the bird’s song
climbs a tree

Michael de Valle, Selby, stay at home dad, 44


About this Rooku
While watching my children at a playground a bird retreated to a nearby tree and proceeded to sing. The moment said something to me of the relationship between nature and humans. Once the bird felt safe it was able to add its voice to the chorus of children playing.


About Michael de Valle
Michael de Valle writes haiku and short stories and lives in the Dandenong Ranges. His haiku have been published in journals such as The Famous Reporter, paper wasp, POAM.