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haiku - What is it?!
By Douglas W Bentley   


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  haiku -  What is it?

 

Everyone seems to have a different definition.

I can see why a poet would have trouble defining it.

Think I’m joking, just go to your computer and ask the question.

Lots of different people and organizations have their own interpretation and

guidelines.

 

First of all, I would like to make it perfectly clear . I have NEVER entered

a haiku contest – I have NEVER received any awards for my haiku. And

probably never will because there are so many different rules and opinions

about how to write haiku I don’t plan to.  

 

With the utmost respect to all of them ---

These are just my guidelines I use I’ve been taught over the years.

 

I start at the source: Webster’s Dictionary.

 

Webster’s defines it as “ An unrhymed Japanese poem of three lines containing 5,  7 & 5 syllables respectively and referring in some way to one of the seasons of the year.”

(That it was a noun and the plural was “haiku”)

 

From the internet I went to the source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

One can read for themselves their definition. There is no point in me repeating all they say about haiku.

 

From this I learned  about the “kireji” and “kigo” of  haiku.

 

Quoting Wikipedia it states about the “kireji”:

 

In English, since “kireji” has no direct equivalent, poets SOMETIMES use punctuation such as a dash or ellipse, or an implied break, to divide into two grammatical and imagistic parts. The purpose is to create a juxtaposition**, prompting the reader to reflect on the relationship between the two parts.

(**) juxtaposition – the act or an instance of placing two or more objects side by side; also: the state of being so placed.

 

I personally do not use any punctuation (other than a hyphen at the “kireji”)

I‘ve read there should be NO capital letters.

With the exception of proper nouns (ie: cities, places, rivers, mountains etc)  

 

The “kigo” is the seasonal reference. It is usually understood by the wording used. It does not need to be told but can be.

 

On the  syllable count there are many opinions. I’ve discovered the 5/7/5 count can be modified if need be to suit the haiku. That it can be all written in one line also.

 

I have been told they should not be titled. This I don’t really agree on  - for how could one ever keep track of them all. I’ve seen some numbered. To compromise, I personally call  it “ haiku”  then  put  my  title  in  parenthesis’s.

 

I’ve also read you should have a  ‘nom de plume’. Most authors already have one.

 

According to Webster’s & Wikipedia’s definition – most haiku written today are actually “senryu”. But I’ve found most poets have their own opinion and don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong.  If it’s 5/7/5 it’s haiku.

 

 A word of advise, if you ever what to submit a poem to a haiku Contest – check out the rules and guidelines.  

 

With all that said, I leave you with one of my favorite haiku ~

 

 ******************************************************

 

    haiku (anticipation of spring)

 

      plum blossom abound

      beetle appear on the bark –

      bluebird will return

 

          ~DragonFly~



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