Poet of the Week: Warren J. Devalier

Poet of the Week: Warren Devalier

Warren lives in Japan. I met him on Twitter and was impressed with his style, photography and graciousness.   I asked him to send me some of his poetry.  He sent so much beautiful work it was really difficult to choose. I just selected a small amount to put here. I have not included the usual question and answer format because Warren expounded on poetry in such a wonderful way I thought you would like to read what he offered as is. 

If you know of anyone who would make a good Poet of the Week, please let me know. See below how to be one of Warren's almost 33,000 followers on Twitter!


If truth be known I am a day laborer, an MBA consultant and leadership coach. Poetry is an avocation.

I have traveled to most places on this planet, at least to the ones I want to visit, and studied or worked in a lot of countries, including Italy, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Japan, US (in a long list of cities). Most of the poems I have written have been lost, misplaced, or discarded.

I have written poetry all my adult life— as usual based on experience and as a catharsis of the soul, a creative outlet, and a relief from the quotidian tasks of everyday life.

My favorite poets are Dante Alighieri and Pablo Neruda. Perhaps no one will ever top Dante for the profundity of his poetry in the Divine Comedy, and Neruda, the so-called surrealist poet, is inimitable in his ability to capture in poetic language the beauty of natural things. Both poets wrote natively in phonetic languages, enabling them to capture sound with a certain rhythm that speaks for itself, a kind of beautiful music to the ears, even without understanding the lyrics that go along with it.

I’ve appreciated Japanese haiku ever since I came to Japan, most particularly that of the masters Bashô, Buson, Issa (technically haikai artists) and Shiki, who coined the term haiku.

Haiku  benefits from the phonetic characteristic of the Japanese language.

Like most things in Japan there is a strict form for composing haiku, classically, 17 mora, or units of sound, in three praises of 5, 7, and 5 moras each. Traditional haiku also contain a kigo, or seasonal reference.

In English, this traditional structure is not strictly observed. For one reason, more meaning can sometimes be captured in a single English word consisting of one syllable than in its Japanese equivalent with more units of sound. For example, dance (noun) is one syllable; its Japanese equivalent is odori (3 syllables) or dansu. In a free-form style English haiku writers may not include a seasonal word either.

I generally stick to a 5-7-5 structure or a 3-5-3 structure. The beauty of haiku is that they are concisely expressed short poems that lend themselves to twitter, fitting the twitter 140 character format.

I especially enjoy writing haiku with an attached photograph, combining a hobby interest with poetry.

Warren Devalier's Poetry

Thus I wrote this haiku to accompany a classic Japanese screen painted during the Tokugawa era (feudal Japan) of a samurai warrior and his partner:

Samurai swords,

the warrior’s métier

in halcyon time.

What does Buddha think

of all the tourists basking

in the skyline bliss?

Everest Challenge

Please take my hand,

walk with me,

or let me carry you on my back

into the high cordillera,

or better still

to the Himalayas,

to the Heavens

where the gods play

and angels dance through the eye

of a needle, resplendent and quintessential.

On one side India

on the other Nepal:

look at the village kids,

their eyes velvet with curiosity;

their longing for knowledge;

their search for a level playing field;

a chance to beat the odds

of the wannabe slumdog millionaires—

light up their eyes with the splendor

that is you, with your magnificence.

Fuel their hopes,

nurture their dreams,

kindle their imaginations.

They need nothing but

equal opportunity.

A penny for their thoughts,

a pencil for their minds:

little-by-little, the tiny steps

that fire the magical journey to

a better world. 

Micropoetry by Warren J. Devalier

2011 All rights reserved.

 Follow Warren Devalier on Twitter @devalier_warren to see more of his lovely work!

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