Haiku and Away!

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haiku-verticalHaiku: a traditional form of Japanese poetry consisting of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, usually concerned with nature.

Okay, dramatically oversimplified. I’ve left out cutting and kigo. And I’ve left out how haiku been imported to half the languages on the planet, doesn’t have to conform to the traditional 5-7-5, and how it doesn’t have to be seasonal in nature anymore.

I love haiku, reading and writing. One of my writing goals this year, and the one I’m most likely to hit, is to compose 500 of them. As of this writing, I’m over 100 so far for the year, and there are two books on the form in my reading list for this year.

I mostly like the forced 5-7-5 structure, even though you can argue that English has a higher information density so that should be cut back a bit to a total of either 11 or 12 syllables. While I’m considering experimenting, the 5-7-5 is easily recognized by pretty much everyone as “standard haiku”.

For subject matter, however, while my haiku don’t always reflect the natural world, there’s nature everywhere. Sometimes (fairly often) it’s nature. Sometimes it’s human nature. Sometimes it’s (science) fictional nature.

The thing is, I’m not sure where the fascination came from. There was a time, ten years or so back, when I was in the middle of a long term experiment with a variety of poetic forms, as much to stretch myself as to find forms I like. (Side note: free verse, so beloved of modern poets, is not poetry. No structure = not a poem. Feel free to argue if you like.)

I did find other forms I like, but the haiku keeps coming back, so this year I’m embracing it.

Three of my favourites from January:


Multiple mushrooms

Dance to fall under the knife

Protein for the soup


A fistful of rage

Denied the right to oppress

True righteous anger


Bound by gravity

A thousand spinning stars wait

Pale, blue-tinged cotton

Be well, everyone.

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