a door left ajar
an exit an entry
You would not believe how I have agonized over the format of haiku and what is acceptable haiku poetry! I have learned that although Zen philosophy is in essence haiku, I still need to focus on ALL the aspects of what a haiku poem entails. Many thanks to all who had been my teachers, especially Debbie and Charles. Herewith is a reply to a letter which I have found very helpful in my learning process. I hope that it may be of help to other aspiring poets as well. ~ Love, Su
I apologize for my delay and writing. We are just now beginning to review
the work submitted for the winter issue of Frogpond and your email was
This is such a good question. On examination we have 3 lines and 18 syllables.
Haiku and senryu can be written in 1 to 4 lines and contain 17 or fewer syllables,
though once in awhile an extra syllable is written. (It's best to stay within the
17 or less syllable structure.) So if we are looking at structure alone, this would
appear to be a haiku, although the ellipsis in the middle of the line is unusual.
The caesura is most often set at the end of the first or second lines, but once
in awhile we see deviation.
Now the bigger question is content. Haiku is a poetry of images, suggestion, conciseness,
juxtaposition, and often contains seasonal references, or human references that may or
may not suggest season. Nature images are also a big part of haiku, though not always
necessary. So you see there is quite a bit of leeway.
What haiku should not do is lead the reader or tell the reader how to reason or what to or think. Again,
we rely on the power of suggestion through the images and words we choose. I feel that
what the third line here does is tell the reader what the writer thinks the door left ajar does,
so in that respect, though this looks like a haiku, the content leaves me feeling a distance
between what we are presented with and the true nature of haiku.
I hope this helps settle your dispute with your friend and that you are both inspired to continue to
study, read, and write haiku, as well as longer poetry.