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Some Things Which Make a Good Haiku - Charles Henderson's Blog

About Charles Henderson
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Never would I have thought I would start writing at 73 years of age. I have thoroughly enjoyed my voyage into the written spirituality of poetry and am thankful for the opportunity.  In my seven years here I have met many new and wonderful persons. Having them accept me as a friend has been a moving experience.


Some Things Which Make a Good Haiku

Blog Posted:7/19/2012 2:24:00 PM
*The two lines which make up the long phrase should be grammatically linked.

*Parts 1 and 2 should be conceptually linked.

*There should be no misspelled words.

*The poem should only be two parts.

*There should be no caps unless it is a proper name.

*There should be minimal punctuation.

*Both parts should have sensory perception.

*It should exhibit a “poems/haiku'>haiku” look, feel and tone.

*It should only be as long as it needs to be.

*It should not be one long, run on sentence.

*It should be written in the present tense.

*It should have seasonality, a season word if possible.

*It should have a recognizable “cut”.

*It should not have rhyme, metaphor, or simile.

*It should not have “Tonto ism”

*It should show the perception not describe it.

*It should have clear, sharp juxtaposition.

*It may be written about concrete, objectivity which is experienced or observed.

I think all of these would apply to any haiku. However MODERN haiku could usually employ all of these in addition to :

Content may include abstract, subjective attitudes, moods and ideas, which is experienced or conjectured.

Most of this is off the top of my head so if you have any thoughts or comments I neglected, please add your information in a comment.

the willow

bending in the wind

job search

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Date: 7/22/2012 1:39:00 AM
I kindly request your permission to include your list on my private poetry website as an easy reference. I will of course give you due credit for the article and your copyright will be noted. Thank you, Suzette
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Date: 7/22/2012 1:30:00 AM
Thank you for the information, Charles. I'm here to listen and to learn. I must say that I do feel the pinch here at the bottom of the world (SA). We are not readily exposed to things not "African".
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Date: 7/21/2012 9:31:00 PM
Suzette, thank you for your comments whice are all correct as far as I can tell. In the US "on" are not used as the base for haiku because of the reason you stated of their difference from syllables. Therefore all major influences in the US agree that somewhere around 12 to 14 syllables will be closer to the same parameter as the Japanese use to write their poem in "on". All other things being considered the defining trait of haiku is not its form or tone, but its seasonality. However, poems which are written in the preponderence of public expectation of haiku are still considered haiku even though they are not seasonal.
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Date: 7/21/2012 4:59:00 PM
"On" is used to count the sounds in each line - not to be confused with syllables.
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Date: 7/21/2012 4:57:00 PM
WRITING HAIKU POETRY Haiku (??, haikai verse) '''' (no separate plural form) is a very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterised by three qualities: The essence of haiku is "cutting" (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji ("cutting word") between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related. Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae), in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on respectively. Any one of the three phrases may end with the kireji. Although haiku are often stated to have 17 syllables, this is incorrect as syllables and on are not the same. A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such words. The majority of kigo, but not all, are drawn from the natural world. This, combined with the origins of haiku in pre-industrial Japan, has led to the inaccurate impression that haiku are necessarily nature poems. Modern Japanese gendai (??) haiku are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject, but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honoured in both traditional haiku and gendai. There is a common, although relatively recent, perception that the images juxtaposed must be directly observed everyday objects or occurrences. [An extract from a summery found on the art of writing Haiku, which I had found very helpful in the past.] Thank you for your interesting notes on the subject, Charles.
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Date: 7/21/2012 4:53:00 PM
Basho's philosophy in relation to nature is illustrated by this: "Go to the pine if you want to learn about the pine or to the bamboo if you want to learn about the bamboo. In doing so, you must leave your preoccupation with yourself. Otherwise you impose yourself on the object and do not learn. Your poetry issues of its own accord when you and the object have become one – when you have plunged deep enough into the object to see something like a hidden glimmering there." One of Basho's fans, a poetry student, came to him and said, "I've got a great idea for a poem! It goes: 'Pull the wings off a dragonfly, and look - you get a red pepper pod!'" Basho said, "No. That is not in the spirit of haiku. You should write: 'Add wings to a pepper pod, and look - you get a red dragonfly!'" Cruelty, violence and sensationalism have no place in haiku poetry. The natural processes of suffering and death do, but the attitude to creatures that suffer is compassionate. Basho went to visit the site of a famous battle, high on the moors, and found the place. There was nothing there, of course, except the hillside and tall moorland grasses, singed brown by the sun. Summer grasses, All that remains Of soldiers’ dreams
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Date: 7/21/2012 11:56:00 AM
thanks for an interesting and informative blog, Charles
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Date: 7/20/2012 11:52:00 AM
haiku in simplicity is poetic,charles..why?..i guess it has a flavor all of its own, contemporary or not...the seasonal tone in itself lends magic to this form, notwithstanding the juxtaposition...:) huggs
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Date: 7/19/2012 9:05:00 PM
@Ruben, re: two verbs: Basho wrote "with a fan//I drink sake in the shade//falling cherry blossoms If he can do it I guess anyone can
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Date: 7/19/2012 8:58:00 PM
Schneikies! Wonderful guidelines for sure, Charles....as with all good poets, a firm foundation allows the building of art to flourish..for example...I am fond of Jack Kerouac's "pop" haiku...utterly free of restraint...but...the big but....the ability to succintly allow the reader to DREAM with 3 short lines...MAGIC! that elusive wisp of genius separates the obvious from great haiku....I implied most of your above guidelines in my current haiku "dying rose" but not all...and love it! The poet first must satisfy themselves...by doing so...the opportunity for others to concur is greatly enhanced...jimbo
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Date: 7/19/2012 8:40:00 PM
Debbie, HAIL MARY! xox
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Date: 7/19/2012 8:04:00 PM
@Ruben again, In my example my long phrase (line 1 and 2) is something I see, but "job search" is of a more modern application and it could bring up a whole string of emotions, depending on who reads the poem. Most of them would be "feelings" Some might say "patience" might crop up for the person not able to find a job. Another may read into it that in order to get a new job you have to bend with the tide, so to speak, much as th willow has to do the wind. You may not like what you find but may have to compromise. So, the readers personal experience bleeds into the interpretation of this particular haiku. That is what I like about it. Not the words but its versatility.
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Date: 7/19/2012 7:52:00 PM
@Brian, yes that falls under the haiku, look, feel, and tone thing. If you have that it should be poetic. @Ruben, yes the juxtaposition is always in the second part, so since you are comparing esentially two like perceptions, the second part has to also have a perception, not necessarily the same perception as the first, but sensory none the less. In other words the first can be hearing and the second could be seeing. But both have a common thread in that particular haiku.
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Date: 7/19/2012 3:47:00 PM
being poetic...I would have you explain what you mean by that Brian? for in normal poetry, poetic devices are used and in many haiku none are used..HELP
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Date: 7/19/2012 3:19:00 PM
One key point Charles, is that the haiku as a poem, should be poetic,notwithstanding these guidelines you have given above .Rgds Brian
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Date: 7/19/2012 3:16:00 PM
Chas, great blog, I have not forgotten to post you some, I am working hard, and this helps a lot, love the haiku as well...David
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Date: 7/19/2012 2:29:00 PM
Interesting Haiku..Sara
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