to explore what I view as some of the orthodoxies made about English-language haiku composition, pronouncements that tend to bind writers into a straight-jacket like haiku structure. Issa’s haiku tend not to follow these commonly stated orthodoxies. And yet they are so charming!
to encourage deep readings of the works of Japanese masters like Issa and Basho, and particularly to showcase some of their haibun compositions which are difficult to find online.” Basho’s Haibun “Hiraizumi”: A Commentary” is another example.
I also do this type of writing for my own development as a writer and reader. Deep readings of the work of haiku and haibun exemplars helps me expand my own writing repertoire and enjoyment of poetry.
Early on in my haiku and haibun journey, editors rejected my haibun and several advised me to read haiku, saying that I’d not be able to write a good haibun until I had mastered the haiku part of haibun’s prose-haiku partnership. I had already looked at the many definitions of the two related genres (haiku and haibun), but found definitions lacking in specifics and mostly useless except as a rough guide, particularly the formulaic definitions like number of lines and syllable counts.
So I read a lot of haiku, both those of the Japanese masters and of the published works contemporary haijin and learned I simply didn’t get much out of them except that most didn’t follow the 5-7-5, 3-line, short-long-short structure learned in English classes.
And I mostly wondered why the editors picked the haiku featured in their journals. I concluded that haiku are not only difficult to write, but they are also difficult to read and understand, to “get the poetic spark,” so to speak. A problem was that I had a tendency to read them once quickly and to read too many at a time. In short, I was merely glancing at them, expecting a spark to jump out at me. I wasn’t engaging in what might be called “deep reading.”
I decided that in order to better understand haiku and thus, to be better able to write a worthy haiku and haibun, I had to first hone my haiku reading skills. In this way, I might be able to appreciate and understand why the editors selected some and not others, and particularly why they didn’t accept mine. And that’s what this three-part series is about – How to do a deep reading of haiku for better understanding of the nature of haiku.
Welcome to presentations about the whats and hows of Haiku, Haibun (a mix of title, prose & haiku) and Haiga (a mix of image and haiku).
The focus is on contemporary English-language writing and artwork in these genres.
Examples and discussions of exemplars in these genres from both contemporary writers and artists & Japanese masters like Basho and Issa are offered.
Comments and questions are welcome. If you send a comment, I’ll consider posting it on a C&R (comments and responses) page. -> email@example.com
This is not a place to submit your work for publication.
I plan to gather a collection of a large variety of writers’ favourite published haibun or haiga on this site. If you send me an example of your favourite published work, either haibun or haiga, and I’ll discuss it with you and consider posting it. By published, I mean work that was submitted to a journal with independent editors. Regardless of its quality, I won’t post self-published work (e.g., posted on your own blog or website) or work that has been posted on forums or blogs where there isn’t a serious independent editorial process in place.
If interested, send one, two or three published pieces to me at -> firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject line: Ray’s Blog, My Published Work, Your Name, Date
Email Body: Include along with your piece(s) provide Title, Name of Publication, Date of Publication. e.g., Day’s End, Haibun Today, 11:2, 2015.
Email Body: Your Name and country and state/province/region of residence.
Email Body: Your blog or website and/or email if you wish to have them listed.
courtesan and monk,
we sleep under one roof together,
moon in a field of clover
“A Monk’s Journey” is haibun with a mix of my prose intertwined with translations of Basho’s haiku. It was first published in the journal Simply Haiku. I present it to show how writers can work in conversation, so to speak, with the Japanese masters and other contemporary poets. . . .