Stephen Wolfe: Death in Deep Autumn

Michael Dylan Welch: Getting Started with Haiku

Richard Gilbert: Haiku and the Perception of the Unique

Robert D. Wilson: TO BE OR NOT TO BE -
An Experiment Gone Awry

Jane Reichhold: Should Senryu be Part of English-Language Haiku?

Jim Kacian: Skinning the Fish: Interpenetration in Haiku

Michael Dylan Welch: The Practical Poet: On the Art of Writing



Vol. 10, No 17, Summer 2013

Dr Randy Brooks: WRITING HAIKU

Robert D. Wilson: What Is and Isn't

David G. Lanoue: Animals and Shinto in the Haiku of Issa

Interview with Professor Peipei Qiu by Robert D. Wilson

Richard Gilbert: Kigo and Seasonal Reference in Haiku

David G. Lanoue: Write Like Issa


Vol. 9, No. 16, Summer 2012

Chen-ou Liu: Read It Slowly, Repeatedly, and Communally

Jim Kacian: So: Ba


Vol. 8, No. 15, Winter 2011

Jim Kacian: Haiku as Anti-Story

Chen-ou Liu: The Ripples from a Splash: A Generic Analysis of Basho’s Frog Haiku

David G. Lanoue: Issa's Comic Vision

Ikuyo Yoshimura: Kato Somo, the First Japanese Haikuist to Visit the United States

Dr. Randy Brooks: Haiku Poetics: Objective, Subjective, Transactional and Literary Theories

Vincent Hoarau: Suggestiveness in haiku through the work of Svetlana Marisova

David Grayson: The Sword of Cliché: Choosing a Topic

Robert D. Wilson: To Kigo or Not to Kigo

Saša Važić: What's the Use

Tomas Transtromer awarded Nobel Prize


Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011

Haruo Shirane: Beyond the Haiku Moment: Basho, Buson and Modern Haiku myths

Geert Verbeke: Haiku Study & Photo Haibun

David Burleigh: In and Out of Japan: The Contours of Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Kigo – The Heathbeat of Haiku

Michael Dylan Welch: Haiku Form and Content

Richard Gilbert: Kigo and Seasonal Reference: Cross-cultural Issues in Anglo-American Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Study of Japanese Aesthetics: Part I: The Importance of Ma

Matthew M. Carriello: The Contiguous Image: Mapping Metaphor in Haiku

Richard Gilbert: The Disjunctive Dragonfly: A Study of Disjunctive Method and Definitions in Contemporary English-
language Haiku

Bruce Ross: The Essence of Haiku

Robert D. Wilson: Study of Japanese Aesthetics: Part II: Reinventing The Wheel: The Fly Who Thought He Was a Carabao

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Vera Markova’s “Ten Haiku Lessons”

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Tranströmer and his Haikudikter

Anatoly Kudryavitsky: Haiku Poets' Last Line of Defence

Michael F. Marra: Yūgen

Robert D. Wilson: Simply Haiku Winter 2011 issue's Featured Poet: Slavko Sedlar



Klaus-Dieter Wirth, Germany


The Haiku at the Crossroads?



After my active participation for about 25 years in the international haiku life I dare to take stock of what I have learnt by experience. Thinking back over all those fierce arguments about the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern, the influence of Zen, the rejection of the “I”, the acceptance of desk haiku, the discrimination of literary devices, such as personification, comparison, metaphor, or the problematic nature of more or less mere description, So-what? observations, or of a just three-part sentence, I come to the conclusion that things have changed much for the better, not least thanks to the easier interchange of ideas made possible by the rapid evolution of the Internet. We have witnessed an emancipation that helped a lot to widen our view well and truly beyond our nosetips. A fact that is quite characteristic of what has happened for instance in particular in German life. Well then, this is definitely the positive side of the coin!

Its other side, however, has turned out to be, in my opinion, extremely worrying. I do not even want to mention so-called spam haiku – its strength and lasting influence can simply not be argued away. One hopes that the normal reader will be able to distinguish between non-sensical or quite witty everyday garbage hitting out at topical events in politics and society. Oddly enough, its outpourings are nowadays easily recognizable by its strict compliance with the set syllable count!

What are the sources of danger then? First, an increasingly unjustified importance is attached to just crude realities giving readers the fatal impression that they are lacking common sense, a mark of undisguised contempt.

out of nowhere isn’t

Marlene Mountain

a delay in large leaves

Philip Rowland

A road crosses a road another road does not.

Mark Terrill

Second, there is an ominous trend towards excessive brevity based, perhaps, on the belief: the shorter the result the better the standard of quality. Yet a telegram style will never be suited to meet any poetical requirements.

Hungover ignorable
Jerusalem cactus
pissing the cats

Richard Gilbert


Carolyn Hall

why and
why not

Rajiv Lather

Third, we have to deal with a penchant for forced originality. However, extremes do not at all correspond with the spirit of haiku which does search for the extraordinary but within the ordinary! As soon as even native speakers are forced to consult the dictionary, the case is likely to be more of a definite proof that the author only put on that famous jewelled ring in order to focus our view just on itself while diverting us from the essential. The same desire for individual admiration is most probably also revealed in obvious attempts to showcase formal extravagances. Yet pompousness, too, has nothing to do with the spirit of haiku!

body: wash fill empty repeat

S. B. Friedman

the rumble of earthworms
seeding the clouds

Eve Luckring

on his

john martone


Fourth, a continuation in this quirk is resorting to plain surrealist contents, most presumably initiated by the “Flying Popes” of the Japanese Gendai Haiku movement, only too eagerly taken up by those restless representatives who leap on every new fashion. I do not at all deny that every now and then such an example may justify its very existence, yet only in a niche of course, and never ever as a trendsetter in the market itself!

spring mud
I find a comb
left by a nymph

Fay Aoyagi

fireflies are
eating rhinos

Scott Metz

inside the mushroom
the canary builds its nest
of guns and ammo

Greg Dykes

Fifth, maybe a less alarming manifestation, though rather predominant is the almost arbitrary, mostly incomprehensible use of direct juxtaposition. No doubt, at first glance this method satisfies the need of caesura, so typical of the haiku, quite perfectly. But as soon as you have the feeling that you cannot do without the help of three psychologists to figure out some abstruse mental acrobatics, any enthusiasm for the genre will rapidly die down and turn to annoyance: no reader wants to realize that he is being made a fool of.

the numbness
of scar tissue

Peggy Willis Lyles

sun on the horizon
who first
picked up a stone

paul m.

vermillion maples
a man at the bus stop
could be Odin

Ebba Story

All these examples have been taken from “Haiku 21 – an anthology of contemporary English-language haiku” edited by Lee Gurga & Scott Metz (Modern Haiku Press, Lincoln, Illinois USA 2011). We find here a mania for running smugly free in hallucinations. It’s a public nuisance.

As things stand it has to be feared that the dagger is already drawn to stab our beloved haiku in its prime. A dangerous development in two respects: Newcomers will of course only see the present state of affairs, and as English has become the basic language for international exchange the fatal effect will be multiplied. Looking for example at the German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian or Balkan haiku it has not been infected so far – for how long? We surely have to have a care for the general welfare of the genre!



First published in Blithe Spirit, journal of the British Haiku Society.

Republished by the author's permission.