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Is haiku just short Free Verse? - Debbie Guzzi's Blog

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Deborah Guzzi writes full time. Her third book, The Hurricane is available through Prolific Press. Her poetry appears in Allegro, Artificium, Shooter, & The Foxglove Journal in the UK, Subterranean Blue, Existere, The Ekphrastic Review, Scarlet Leaf Review & Subterranean Blue Poetry, Canada - Tincture, Australia - mgv2>publishing, France Cha: Asian Review, China - Vine Leaves Literary Journal, Australia - The Scarlet Leaf Review - Greece, Ribbons, pioneertown, Sounding Review, Bacopa Literary Review, The Aurorean, Liquid Imagination, The Tishman Review, Page & Spine & others in the USA. 

Is haiku just short Free Verse?

Blog Posted:4/8/2012 7:49:00 AM is not just short free verse..

It is completely different than free verse.

1. haiku in tone it is objective and most free verse is subjective

2. haiku has a definite structure..

A. haiku is about a MOMENT in time

B. 3 lines
C. 2 of the 3 lines [or parts]  are joined CONCEPTUALLY[they are about the same topic and GRAMMATICALLY [if placed on a single line they would comprise 1 thought.]
D. A single image/phrase/fragment or topic [which may or may not be a complete thought] finishes the haiku. This input adds more sensory information to the MOMENT.

* In Modern/Contemporary/Western haiku a season word is not necessary & man is included more often

Free Verse has no definitive structure

A. Free Verse uses ANY poetic device it wants [metaphor, simile, personification, onomanopepoea, oxymoron's, alliteration ..] haiku uses almost none! 

B. Free Verse can relate any or many or all periods of TIME. haiku is only about a moment.

C. Free Verse is almost totally SUBJECTIVE, it contains personal judgment, analytical thinking, FLIGHTS OF FANCY!

Here is a verse I wrote perhaps a year and a half ago and labeled haiku

Ghostin’ White

The wind chased dry snow
swirled, slipped, and sledded entranced
ghost dancing the pavement.

*This is PURE Free Verse. It is NOT a haiku.
*The image is SUBJECTIVE, fanciful, it involves MANY MINUTES
[for there is MUCH action!] swirling, slipping, sledding, dancing

Let me try to rebirth it as a haiku..for you to see the difference

Snow cover (white) covers the

the wind
swirls the dry snow on the walk --
frozen clothesline

* One MOMENT, 1 action, 1 topic WIND and 1 added bit of input

Why not look back on your old writes and reform the ones LABELED haiku into haiku.

This DOES NOT mean those old writes were BAD, I would bet the farm many, many of them are exquiste! BUT haiku is NOT short Free Verse.

If you want help reforming or rebirthing them post one here in the comment section and we can play!


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Date: 4/9/2012 4:32:00 PM
That was a rant. One I am not proud of, but holy shmoly--- this is not the middle ages! We do not need to feel "threatened" if change comes to "quickly" to art. It feels to me as though we are talking about creative oppression, which I'm telling you, makes me see red like nothing else, save for the way man can treat man, and man can treat beast. I say you wanna hold a contest on haiku why not just do what charles does, call it strict? And make it 100 entries. Pick your top 20 faves. No probs. Gotta go. Girl's bath time. Hugs... will send a email addy tonight.
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Date: 4/9/2012 4:26:00 PM
Debbie, frankly I'd prefer in some cases to see txt talk as some people are saying they are writing free verse/ but all they are doing/ is taking/ regular prose writing/ and breaking it up into lines/ as though this is poetry/ but I for one would never / tap someone on the shoulder/ and say to stop labelling something as/ poetry that lacks all or any/ poetic content. This is the first time I have stated this observation on soup, and I am not comfortable in saying this. WHY? Because, simply, IT IS NOT MY AFFAIR. People learn as they go, when they wish, if they wish or HOW they wish. I would personally choose seeing Chris' WOT in his incredible free verse than seeing some colourless, flavourless and insipid redundancy that I have occasionally come across. I read and move on. When you say "JUST" free verse, I literally CRINGE. I KNOW you KNOW how to write free verse, its intricacies and delicate dance of language. SO often I have seen free verse SNUBBED here on Soup. Not by you. But OYE!
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Date: 4/9/2012 3:17:00 PM
No Cyn..Chas is saying everyone should do what they want he doesn't really care, for me in any contest I run on haiku I do care, if I don't see it as a haiku, if I see it as Free Verse, I won't accept it as an entry. That's why I have NOT been running haiku contests. In my mind first you become an expert at something [which I am not yet] and then you fool around with changing it. Why not have all the youngsters write us poems in txt tlk?
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Date: 4/9/2012 2:24:00 PM
nice one, debbie... i'd like to play along but my free verse list is a ton, lol!:) huggs!
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Date: 4/9/2012 12:29:00 PM
Charles: Poetry has always and should rightly be so about the past. Wow. I don't see that at all. I don't think when the first writer of the ENGLISH sonnet thought to himself, better I leave this form alone.Yes, sir, let's keep things how they were, have always been, should remain. Poetry, in my view, in many poet's view I believe, continues to move. It is not based in yesterday, but in the present! In fact, somebody keeps pointing out that haiku IS in the moment, not in the past. Would you care to elaborate on that comment? Perhaps I have (once again) misunderstood you. Poetry is an art form. All art grows and changes throughout history. Also, I am confused by what you've written "It's self defeating to resist change. It comes so slowly I don't see it as a threat, but as a way to broaden the scope of anything." Do you see change/growth/art exploration as a threat to the sanctity of the original form? I think both are possible. I love opera and blues, one didn't disolve the other. :-)
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Date: 4/8/2012 11:49:00 PM
Well, from what I understand it has always been that way. A longer haiku seems pointless when we have tanka, although I'm not saying a tanka is a long haiku. I am trying to bend with the tide but I do like writing traditional. Lately I have been trying to write modern subjects but with traditional form. I think I am going to need that for an interim. At present my mind set just doesn't give me good modern haiku. I just do not understand it. Am going to put up a blog with the latest haiku and senryu definitions out of the Haiku Society of America. Although, official for members the definitions only talk about skeletal form, not how to arrive at good verse. It's self defeating to resist change. It comes so slowly I don't see it as a threat, but as a way to broaden the scope of anything. Usually just a touch of something different adds spice, but in excess is intolerable. I will have my contests well informed so people will know where they stand with what they write.
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Date: 4/8/2012 9:14:00 PM
Good thoughts, Charles. The last comment you said about making them longer than 17 syllables (if need be) shows me that you are ready to perhaps embrace a new future of haiku.
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Date: 4/8/2012 6:59:00 PM
There is a lot of comment about how long a haiku should be. I have always maintained what I have read from only a hand full of haiku notables, but has been my position from day one. "A haiku should only be as long as it needs to be to say what needs to be said." period, end of opinion. Yet, you say, but what if it takes 19 or 20 syllables to say what needs to be said. So what, write the poem!! If it reads well, no one will ever notice. If it doesn't it will die a quick death. But, you will have said what YOU wanted to say in as few syllables as possible.
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Date: 4/8/2012 6:18:00 PM
Concerning metaphore and simile in Basho poems, let me add this. Basho said to spend your time learning haiku and when you arrive to throw out everything you ever learned. I spent several months trying to find one enlightened person who could tell me when I would know how to use metaphore and simile properly in haiku. The closest I ever got to an answer was "Do not ever use it until you are sure you know what you are doing". So, far I have not had one poet tell me that they have arrived at that point and believe me I have asked plenty.
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Date: 4/8/2012 6:12:00 PM
I probably read 30 or more websites in the last two weeks trying to get a handle on the way modern haiku is developing. I saw most of the changes and new ideas that heve been mentioned here. Most that lean toward traditional are inclined to be slow to change and those who like radical free verse will be the first to say it should be this or that. We can't write in the future so all judgement of poetry is done from what is written in the past. Poetry has always and should rightly be so about the past. The future takes care of itself even if we try to slow down change. The problem with putting on a traditional verse and then doing it in a modern way, is that it is still the style and opinion of the individual who wrote it. It is still only their opinion and as I have said before everyone has an opinion. The best we can do is to go by existing "common norms" in saying what haiku is or isn't. No one is completely right or completely wrong.
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Date: 4/8/2012 6:05:00 PM
I like what you said here in this last comment, Cyndi. In your definition, my bunny "verse" IS a haiku.
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Date: 4/8/2012 5:07:00 PM
I am very interested in haiku and have been reading where and what I can. I'm NO expert, but I have even read JAPANESE professors teaching haiku that metaphor has been a part of haiku since basho! Now, that being said, in what we see as traditional haiku metaphor is (I agree can you believe it?) best left out. But I am reading so many different takes on the modern haiku. MOST do adhere to the juxtaposition/2 parts of a haiku. But I've read some GREAT haiku which did not. When I looked into the definition of haiku I found a fantastic article which gave something like 40 definitions by haiku notables (societies, editors of magazines etc) and the common statement was that haiku catches a moment in 17 or fewer syllables. THAT IS IT. That is what modern haiku is. Some choose to retain as much as traditional haiku as possible--others do not. That is what I'm reading. I can see if I can find the article again. Will send you HUBBY'S EMAIL-- ugh long story, mine is defunct till next week. Hugs
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Date: 4/8/2012 3:32:00 PM
glad to see a haiku workshop, debs. i know i wrote dozens that were utterly wrong. i'll find one...
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Date: 4/8/2012 2:57:00 PM
Hey Cyn! I think we disagree a wee bit on the Western/ Modern/ Contemporary haiku thingie..I'm not exactly sure where we are parting ways though..Ok let's assume they can have more than 3 lines..would the verse still loose its two part concept>juxtaposition..I think most of the Western ones I read [I think that's what they are anyway..still hold to the 2 part concept & the momentary view. Do you agree with that? Just wondering? And soup mail me your email I have to send you sonnets!
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Date: 4/8/2012 12:41:00 PM
haiku is a tight rope walk.Free verse is falling from it after losing the balance:)
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Date: 4/8/2012 12:40:00 PM
I leave the labelling to writers as MODERN haiku continues to evolve and is being accepted as more than 3 lines, allows-allows-allows-allows-allows for metaphor and simile. Yes, to all you said, for tradional haiku. Abso-bloody-lutely (one of your contest words :-) ) I have often thought of putting two haiku to a page, both on the same subject, one written tradionally, the other written with modern touches. I'll be sending Soup that petition this week. Then people could just select 'Modern Haiku' when they are writing for this GROWING MARKET. Hope you're well, hon. Like both writes.
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Date: 4/8/2012 11:29:00 AM
spring warms to dazzle/ dew moistens the erect stems/ timid buds will blush ...would be more haikuey like this [the buds/ of rising tulips turn pink/dew glistens] what do you think Rueben?
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Date: 4/8/2012 11:27:00 AM
Brian I have given the simplist definetion I can give..I could have gone on & on but the point is,not all unrhymed verse without meter or rhyme [even if it is short] is haiku. I see all the following terms as describing the same type of verse Western/ Contemporary /Modern ...the syllable count is actually the least important of the can make a tradition haiku, one which has the actual intent of a tradition haiku with 17 syllables. Just making it less than 17 syllables does not make it Western or make it a haiku. I would say a more common sign of a Western haiku was the lack of SEASON WORD, and OR the more fequent use of man, both these traits still can be done in a a 2 part structure and would NOT be considered Free Verse my me. Alot of my current haiku would be labeled Western because they do not have a season word.
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Date: 4/8/2012 11:16:00 AM
Andie there is no point at all in calling a write which is simply short and uses all the conventions and devices of poetry a haiku, just as if there is no point in painting an orange red and calling it an apple. I don't see the problem with calling it what it is VERSE.
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Date: 4/8/2012 9:50:00 AM
That will depend on how one defines both terms Debbie.Yes for the Western Haiku in English ie an open verse without traditional metre.No for English 'imitations' of 'translated style' of Japanese haiku.Hence the need for a separate category here on PS.Does it matter anyway,both need to be poetical to be a poem.Just my two cents.rgds Brian
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Date: 4/8/2012 9:23:00 AM
I think I know what inspired this blog, Debs. hahaha. I hope you know that I realize the difference. I only meant by what I said to you yesterday in the sense that haiku is unrhymed and the way it "looks" to the eye, like a mini free verse poem in its format (like that poem you showed us above here). Of course, true haiku needs to have the structure of "moment in time" with juxtaposition on the end, etc. The modern haiku with no need to count exact syllables is in itself a bit "free." You just have to make sure you do a very short poem and use the haiku style of seeing things. I have a friend who would probably look at almost anybody's haiku here at Soup and say "nope, not haiku." Everyone has different standards on them. I have one about a bunny that for me, IS a haiku, but not the kind that would be up to par for the haiku experts because my bunny symbolizes something and symbols are a no no; however, for me, I enjoy personification and symbolism in a haiku. I hope one day those elements will be accepted by all the haiku community.
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Date: 4/8/2012 8:16:00 AM
I don't want to mislead anyone into thinking I am writing better than average haiku I AM NOT. I am just now getting beyond the point of mere description. What I have done and what you can do is SEE the difference!
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Date: 4/8/2012 8:07:00 AM
I think my Ku's are coming along nicely, well i say think but ive not had Charles critique any for a while.. Hugs xxx
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I'Ve Seen So Many Sonnetintrospectionnight,night,
Searching For Michelangelo Free verseart,hope,life,people,imag

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Carolyn Devonshire United States Flag United States Read
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