Eel Pie Dharma

Eel Pie Dharma - commentaries and reviews

critical feedback from activists in the fields of literature and haiku,
and general comments from interested readers

"They say that if you can remember the sixties, you weren't actually there. Fortunately, this isn't always the case. In his haibun memoir, Eel Pie Island Dharma, Chris Faiers recounts his adventures as a survivor of those infamous years. Hippies, junkies, bikers and school girls all traipsed through the derelict Eel Pie Island Hotel in the late sixties, and Faiers was among them. If you are one of those who lived through those years, this book will provide you with enough flashbacks to keep you going for quite a while. If you are too young, or too old, or too cautious to have experienced those days firsthand, this is your chance to find out what it was all about... there actually is an Eel Pie Island, and Chris Faiers was there. He even provides the photographs to prove it."

Marco Fraticelli
from  Haiku Review Canada, October 2013

"I have been reading [the chapter] on the Three Fishes, Kingston and just wanted to say thank you. It has brought back so many good memories for me, from sitting under a table one night very stoned and drunk on snake bite combing some dude's hair to meeting so many great people, the sort that parents would warn you of as they looked like trouble, but were in fact the kindest and nicest people I have ever met. I spent a lot of my time there and was even there on the final night sit-in when the Fishes closed.

Thank you for giving me my good memories back."

Heather Stowell - 29th August 2011

"Sorry I am not a publisher but if I was I would publish your writings for sure! I live in the South East of England and I read the Eel Pie Dharma a few months back. I would just like to say that it is now one of my favourite reads, I found it whilst trawling the net looking for stories written about the 60s (as I am only 20 it's a time period I missed out on!). I would just like to thank you for taking the time to write it really as it makes my imagination run wild whilst reading it! It's brilliant and thanks again for writing it.

P.S. Is that the full version? Only I would love to read more!"

Jake Miller - 26th July 2007

"I've been snooping around the internet reading what haibuns I find. I was happy to find your Eel Pie Dharma haibun / memoir and enjoyed reading your personal story. Interesting and fun to read. I'm a few years younger than you, but I still remember the griping fear of getting drafted and all my plans if my C.O. status was to be rejected... Fortunately, in 1972 things started to wind down and my C.O. application is likely buried in some backroom (or a landfill). Anyway...great stuff, good work and hooray for you!!!"

Jeff Winke - 11th May 2007
haiku poet, author and collage artist

"I just read your memoirs of Eel Pie in the '60s & '70s.
I really enjoyed it - I wish more people did this kind of thing.
I've lived in Twickenham and Teddington for 25 years and I always wanted to find out what life was like in the hotel in the period you described.
Thanks very much."

Mike Foster - 6th May 2005

"I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying 'eel pie dharma' - I came across it by accident looking for something about Formentera in the sixties. Unlike most of what I find on the net it's beautifully written - the prose almost as good as the haikus - and for someone who has smoked so much dope your memory is amazing! Also, you managed to be in all the key places at the time. My only complaint is that it's not long enough."

Patrick Cooper - 21st April 2004
children's author

"I've just started reading "Eel Pie Dharma" and I'm really enjoying it. I love the form of haibun, and your poetry is really wonderful. I also like the's a cool form, part way between haibun and weblog. Haiblog? Maybe not. But it is very effective, and I love being instantly transported to Hyde Park, listening to Blind Faith make their debut. Of course I had to stop everything and find my Blind Faith album. I'm listening to Can't Find My Way Home, which kind of captures the moment. It's a great soundtrack for 144 Piccadilly."

Ruth Ozeki - 18th January 2004
filmmaker and novelist

"This is an autobiographical book relating the adventures of a young Canadian/American who came to England in the 1960s in order to avoid the draft. It deals with his life among the London bohemian set: hippies, hells angels and drug pushers all feature as does a brief encounter with George Harrison. He also offers an account of his early development as a poet and his fondness for the haiku form. The memoir is punctuated with examples of his poetry which tend to supplement and illustrate the events that inspired it. A night on the streets in Kingston on Thames, for instance, produced:

            Making camp
            in a vacant lot
            with outcast cats

Though little of the haiku is particularly arresting in its own right it does work to complement the prose quite nicely and, on the whole, I enjoyed the book. Certainly it offers a worthwhile insight into the life of a free-thinker who was lucky enough to be a part of the counterculture at a key moment in history."

Paul McDonald - New Hope International - Review On-line  (Jan 2003)

"I have to say (bearing in mind i've only seen the chapters on-line) the only revision you might consider is historical footnotes suitable for the MTV generation: who the Edgar Broughton Band are (they're still going, just!) and that Dharma has nothing to do with Jeffrey Dahmer, etc etc.

In stylistic terms, don't alter a word. Its got a detatched, lyrical quality: stoned and slightly melancholy. Nothing ever lasts for ever and ou sont les neiges d'antan? It stands as it is, Chris; it's a monument to the era..."

Robert Watson - 6th February 2002

"Thank you, indeed, for your gift of Eel Pie Dharma. Fascinating! - Especially to an 80-year old!

The prose is gripping. - One aspect, though, a large proportion of the senryu or haiku repeat what just had been said in the prose, instead of presenting a new angle of perception or a different factor that nevertheless augments or deepens the previous thought, feeling, or sentiment.

But certainly thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless."

Robert Spiess - 29th October 2001
(haiku poet and publisher of  "Modern Haiku")

"A haibun is a prose work interpersed with haiku. For the most part, English haibun are short, shallow introspections or boring travelogues done in dull prose. There are a few exceptions, most notably Rod Wilmot's "The Ribs of Dragonfly", a richly written "haiku novella", and Hal Roth's "Beyond the Fireflies", a work juxtaposing haiku with found prose about Civil War battles. Faiers' "Eel Pie Dharma" is a substantial work. The subject matter is the poet's inner and outer journey through the psychedelic Sixties and early Seventies. The chapters, with titles such as "The Day We (Sort Of) Met George Harrison" and "The Night the Hog Farmers Got Swamped", are entertaining, and the haiku are quotable:

Used condoms
    crumble on a ledge
        fall leaves

In a courtyard
        plucking flowers."

Leroy Gorman
from "Bogg, An Anglo-American Journal" (circa early 1990s)

Eel Pie Dharma   |   Eel Pie Island (words & pics)

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revised 31 October 2014