Angelee Deodhar: Haiku Silence 

Steve Wolfe: Bards of a Feather Lost Between Heaven and Earth

Klaus-Dieter Wirth: Haiku in German-Speaking Countries

Beverley George: Haiku and the Seasons

Bruce Ross: Haiku as an Absolute Metaphor

Klaus-Dieter Wirth: The Haiku in Europe

Ferris Gilli: The Power of Juxtaposition

Toshio Kimura: A New Era for Haiku

Steve Wolfe: Pilgrimage: On the Road to Shikoku


Vol. 11, No 18, Spring 2014

Stephen Wolfe: Death in Deep Autumn

Klaus-Dieter Wirth: The Haiku at the Crossroads?

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

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

Tatjana Stefanović: A branch with birdsong

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




Jim Kacian, USA


The Way of One


Japanese haiku poets, almost without exception, write their haiku in a single vertical line. The consequence of such practice is considerably different from what has become the standard form in western haiku—three lines creates its own set of expectations and timings. In my efforts to regain something of what is attained by the original Japanese practice, I have discovered some effects that, for a variety of reasons, are not available in Japanese. To make my findings public (I am, as Ezra Pound insists serious poets do, taking “the risk of printing the results of [my] own personal inspection”), I have written a short book (though not a book in one line, as perhaps my critics would prefer) on the topic.

This chapbook focuses on three of the more interesting effects to be found in English language monoku, which I tentatively term “one line–one thought,” “speedrush,” and “multistops.” Of course there are other effects, and the use of one does not preclude the use of others in any given poem. Many of the poems I provide as examples are indeed not so simple as to be classified even within my own system.

In this online synopsis of that book, I include a few new examples, but none of the poems from the print volume. This is because that book seeks to persuade as a book of poems, as well as a primer in this technique, and must be taken whole. This version, on the other hand, hopes to whet your appetite, to think more deeply on the topic at hand, and perhaps to seek out that other book. In any case, I hope my study will prove a stimulus to other poets for further experimentation.


One way the English-language monoku achieves its affect is through “one-line one-thought.” Rather than a piling up of images upon the imagination (phanopoeia—Pound again), a single image is extended or elaborated into a second context, stated or implied. Think of the scene near the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey where the ship is hurtling through the atmosphere of some unknown planet: the astronaut is a single image, but the context around him is changing all the time—that's the kind of effect we get from one line, one thought: Kubrickian rather than Poundian.

riffing on Wittgenstein one train hides another

the endless loop of the men’s room towel this morning

the whirr of the hummingbird all i could see


A second way monoku work in English is through sheer speed. The rushing of words past the imagination’s editor results in a breathless taking in of the whole, only after which the unexpected “sense” contained within the imagery asserts itself. The pivot of a poem might occur in the first word, but having met it so early in the reading the reader can hardly be blamed for not recognizing it as such. And another might work in exactly the opposite way, postponing its pivot for the last line, and then asking the reader to decide how to read it.

after the moth the flame

the end before the end September rain

in the glass of cheap red sun


A third way western languages can exploit monoku to novel effect is through the use of multiple kire, or cutting words. Certain critics, such as Hasugawa Kai, feel that kire is the most critical poetic technique exploited by haiku. The advantage of one-line poems in English is that any of several stops can be made by the reader, even a different stop or stops each time through. Multiple stops yield subtle, rich, often ambiguous texts which generate alternative readings, and subsequent variable meanings. Each poem can be several poems, and the more the different readings cohere and reinforce each other, the larger the field occupied by the poem, the greater its weight in the mind.

subverting itself October snow

iron stains the roadkill of the godless month

walking among old stone cattle out in the rain


This is not advocacy for the one-line technique for all English-language haiku. The needs of each poem must be determined individually, and those needs met. However, the one-line technique offers some very cogent reasons to consider it in the right circumstances.

after millions of floating-point operations a tomato i grew myself

And what techniques would you say are at work in poems such as these?

in heavy fog light as particle and wave

mulling it over the legs of the brandy

the raised napes of wolf and I to I


Thank you for playing.