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What is Haiku? How Has Haiku Changed?

by Edward A. Weiss

The venerable haiku has been around for centuries. And seemingly little has changed over time...except the form. Haiku form in the West traditionally uses a combination of 5-7-5 syllables to create the poem. This has now given way to what is called "free form" haiku. A good thing from my perspective.

Form is a very useful concept because it can aid a poet in constructing a finished poem. But forms can become dry and stale as well. Usually this isn't the case as haiku form has retained a remarkable resiliency over the centuries. Quiet amazing considering the strict rules one has to adhere to. But somewhere along the way, haiku poets here in the west abandoned strict 5-7-5 protocol creating a new haiku form.

Created by using something called fragment/phrase theory, the new haiku form allows modern day poets to express the unique haiku sensibility in new ways. For example, take a look at this haiku poem from the author:

Dusk --

A pelican dives

And catches a fish!

The first thing you notice is that the 5-7-5 arrangement of syllable is gone. Instead, we have just one syllable for line 1, five for line 2 and five again for line 3. The interesting thing about this haiku poem is that it retains the important haiku aesthetic. That certain reverence for nature that can only be captured in a few lines. Haiku, at their best, capture moments in time. Little snapshots of something happening in nature that otherwise may have been missed by the constantly roving eye. Haiku form may have changed over time, but fortunately, the haiku sensibility is still being practiced here in the West.

Learn How to Write Haiku! Let haiku poet/author Edward A. Weiss show you how to create your own beautiful haiku poems!. Visit to learn more.

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