Vol. 8, No. 14, Summer 2011

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

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



Geert Verbeke, Flanders, Belgium




Close at hand on the writing desk: haiku manuals, a photo of Shiki’s statue, and a bag of sugar-free sweets. The writing room is an island of tranquility, to be alone with words and poems with silence and poetic rapture.

Haiku study is fascinating; the opportunities are great. The study of historical haiku and source books hold a unique meaning for me, one that permeates everything I do by trial and error. Haiku writing happens in the present moment; thus suggestions about books and magazines are always welcome. Trade by barter is a brilliant idea: send your books for mine... Books written by others are like a path in the garden. Haiku are a form of direct joy.

No, you don’t have to follow the experts who refer univocally to, ‘Bashō said this,’ or, ‘Buson said that.’ Saying the whole truth and nothing but the truth, doesn’t exist! Everything is true, and nothing is true.

A haiku writer expects a creative vision with an open mind from magazines, haiku circles, and blogs, without nitpickers or a patronizing or supercilious air.

A Western haiku approach:

1. Haiku is short

2. It has approximately seventeen syllables, written in three lines with word groups of 5-7-5 syllables.

3. It is connected with nature.

4. It is an observation in the present.

5. It expresses less-personal feelings.

6. It avoids too much use of metaphor and rhyme.

7. It usually has a connection with a season.

A contemporary haiku poet, or haijin, knows that the 5-7-5 syllable rule we learned at school is artificial. Our teachers told us that a haiku is a poem with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third. It was just a trick to get us to learn syllables. In the original Japanese form, the 5-7-5 are called morae. A mora is a linguistic Japanese unit (called onji), smaller than an English syllable. Five-seven-five syllables means seventeen in total. Less is possible; more is unusual.

Do not add unnecessary words to reach the ‘magic’ 5-7-5 number; or worse, break the sentence in an awkward place. But it is better to be a poet than an abacus. Childlike amazement is more important than all kinds of hairsplitting subtleties.