Haiku in English
||The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with North America and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (September 2009)|
A Haiku in English is a short poem which uses imagistic language to convey the essence of an experience of nature or the season intuitively linked to the human condition. It is a development of the Japanese haiku poetic form in the English language.
Contemporary haiku are written in many languages, but most poets outside of Japan are concentrated in the English-speaking countries.
Some of the more common practices in English include:
- use of three lines of up to 17 syllables, traditionally in "5–7–5" form.[a]
- allusion to nature or the seasons.
- use of a caesura or kire represented by punctuation, space, a line-break, or a grammatical break to compare two images implicitly.
English haiku do not adhere to the strict syllable count found in Japanese haiku, and the typical length of haiku appearing in the main English-language journals is 10–14 syllables. Some haiku poets are concerned with their haiku being expressed in one breath and the extent to which their haiku focus on "showing" as opposed to "telling". Haiku uses an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered painting, without "telling all". As Matsuo Bashō put it, "The haiku that reveals seventy to eighty percent of its subject is good. Those that reveal fifty to sixty percent, we never tire of."
Haiku movement in North America 
During the Imagist period, a big number of mainstream poets, including Ezra Pound, wrote what they called hokku, usually in a five-six-four syllable pattern. Amy Lowell published several hokku in her book "What's O'Clock" (1925; winner of the Pulitzer Prize). Individualistic haiku-like verses by the innovative Buddhist poet and artist Paul Reps (1895–1990) appeared in print as early as 1939 (More Power to You—Poems everyone Can Make, Preview Publications, Montrose CA.). Inspired by R. H. Blyth's translations, other westerners including those of the Beat period, such as Jack Kerouac and Richard Wright, attempted original haiku in English.
- Snow in my shoe
- Sparrow's nest
- Jack Kerouac (collected in Book of Haikus, Penguin Books, 2003)
The African-American novelist Richard Wright, in his final years, composed some 4,000 haiku, 817 of which are collected in the volume Haiku: This Other World. Wright hewed to a 5-7-5 syllabic structure for most of these verses.
- Whitecaps on the bay:
- A broken signboard banging
- In the April wind.
- Richard Wright (collected in Haiku: This Other World, Arcade Publishing, 1998)
An early anthology of American haiku, Borrowed Water (Tuttle: 1966) of work by the Los Altos, California Roundtable was compiled by Helen Stiles Chenoweth. The experimental work of Beat and minority haiku poets expanded the popularity of haiku in English. Despite claims that haiku has not had much impact on the literary scene, a number of mainstream poets, such as W. H. Auden, Richard Wilbur, James Merrill, Etheridge Knight, William Stafford, W. S. Merwin, John Ashbery, Donald Hall, Ruth Stone, Sonia Sanchez, Billy Collins, (as well as Seamus Heaney, Wendy Cope, and Paul Muldoon in Ireland and Britain) and others have tried their hand at haiku. Haiku has also proven very popular as a way of introducing students to poetry in elementary schools and as a hobby for numerous amateur writers.
In 1963 the journal American Haiku was founded in Platteville, Wisconsin, edited by the European-Americans James Bull and Donald Eulert. Among contributors to the first issue were poets James W. Hackett, O Mabson Southard (1911–2000), and Nick Virgilio. In the second issue of American Haiku Virgilio published his "lily" and "bass" haiku, which became models of brevity, breaking down the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic form, and pointing toward the leaner conception of haiku that would take hold in subsequent decades.
- out of the water
- out of itself
- picking bugs
- off the moon
- Nick Virgilio (Selected Haiku, Burnt Lake Press/Black Moss Press, 1988)
American Haiku ended publication in 1968 and was succeeded by Modern Haiku in 1969, which remains an important English-language haiku journal. Other early journals included Haiku Highlights (founded 1965 by European-American writer Jean Calkins and later taken over by the European-American writer Lorraine Ellis Harr who changed the name to Dragonfly), Eric Amann's Haiku (founded 1967), and Haiku West (founded 1967).
The first English-language haiku society in America, founded in 1956, was the Writers' Roundtable of Los Altos, California, under the direction of Helen Stiles Chenoweth. The Haiku Society of America was founded in 1968 and began publishing its journal Frogpond in 1978. Important resources for poets and scholars attempting to understand English-language haiku aesthetics and history include William J. Higginson's Haiku Handbook (McGraw-Hill, 1985) and Lee Gurga's Haiku: A Poet's Guide (Modern Haiku Press, 2003).
Significant contributors to American haiku include Hackett, Virgilio, Charles B. Dickson (1915–1991), Elizabeth Searle Lamb (1917–2005), Raymond Roseliep (1917–1983), Robert Spiess (1921–2002), John Wills (1921–1993), Anita Virgil (b. 1931), and Peggy Willis Lyles (1939–2010).
- my "I-Thou"
- Raymond Roseliep (Rabbit in the Moon, Alembic Press, 1983)
- an aging willow--
- its image unsteady
- in the flowing stream
- Robert Spiess (Red Moon Anthology, Red Moon Press, 1996)
Other figures still active in the American haiku community include Jane Reichhold, Marlene Mountain, Ruth Yarrow, George Swede, Vincent Tripi, Alexis Rotella, Christopher Herold, John Stevenson, Lee Gurga, Gary Hotham, Michael McClintock, Alan Pizzarelli, Jim Kacian, and Michael Dylan Welch. Examples:
- Just friends:
- he watches my gauze dress
- blowing on the line.
- Alexis Rotella (After an Affair, Merging Media, 1984)
- meteor shower...
- a gentle wave
- wets our sandals
- Michael Dylan Welch (HSA Newsletter XV:4, Autumn 2000)
- Little spider,
- will you outlive
- Cor van den Heuvel (Haiku Anthology, 34d ed. 1999)
Pioneering haiku poet Cor van den Heuvel has edited the standard Haiku Anthology (1st ed., 1974; 2nd ed., 1986; 3rd ed. 1999). Since its most recent edition, another generation of American haiku poets has come to prominence. Among the most widely published and honored of these poets are Fay Aoyagi, Roberta Beary, Connie Donleycott, Carolyn Hall, paul m., Scott Metz, Chad Lee Robinson, Billie Wilson, and Peter Yovu. Newer poets exemplify divergent tendencies, from self-effacing nature-oriented haiku (Allan Burns) to Zen themes perpetuating the concepts of Blyth and Hackett (Stanford M. Forrester) to poignant haiku-senryū hybrids in the manner of Rotella and Swede (Roberta Beary) to the use of subjective, surreal, and mythic elements (Fay Aoyagi) to emergent social and political consciousness (John J. Dunphy) to genre-bending structural and linguistic experimentation and "found haiku" (Scott Metz).
The American Haiku Archives, the largest public archive of haiku-related material outside Japan, was founded in 1996. It is housed at the California State Library in Sacramento, California, and includes the official archives of the Haiku Society of America, along with significant donations from the libraries of Elizabeth Searle Lamb, co-founder Jerry Kilbride, Jane Reichhold, Lorraine Ellis Harr, Francine Porad, and many others.
Publications in North America 
The leading English-language haiku magazines published in the USA include Modern Haiku, Frogpond (published by the Haiku Society of America), Mayfly (founded by Randy and Shirley Brooks in 1986), Acorn (founded by A. C. Missias in 1998), bottle rockets (founded by Stanford M. Forrester), The Heron's Nest (founded by Christopher Herold in 1999, published online with a print annual); Brussels Sprout (edited from 1988 to 1995 by Francine Porad), Woodnotes (edited from 1989 to 1997 by Michael Dylan Welch), Hal Roth's Wind Chimes, Wisteria, moonset (edited from 2005 to 2009 by an'ya (Andja Petrović)), and tinywords (founded by Dylan F. Tweney in 2001).
Publications in other English-speaking countries 
John Barlow's Snapshot Press is a notable UK-based publisher. In the UK, the British Haiku Society publishes Blithe Spirit, and the World Haiku Club publishes The World Haiku Review. Another leading haiku magazine in the UK is Presence (formerly Haiku Presence) edited by Martin Lucas. In Ireland, twenty issues of Haiku Spirit edited by Jim Norton were published between 1995 and 2000. Shamrock, the online journal of the Irish Haiku Society edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, currently publishes thematic issues on the haiku movements in various countries, as well as international haiku. Paper Wasp is published in Australia, while Kokako is published in New Zealand.
Variant forms 
Although the vast majority of haiku published in English appear in three lines, a number of variants can be seen.
One line 
The most common variation from the three-line standard is one line. It emerged from being more than an occasional exception during the late 1970s. The one-liner was lent legitimacy by three people:
- Marlene Mountain was one of the first English-language haiku poets to regularly write haiku in a single horizontal line;
- Hiroaki Sato translated Japanese haiku into one line in English;
- Matsuo Allard wrote essays in its favor and published several magazines and chapbooks devoted to the form.
The single-line haiku usually contains much fewer than seventeen syllables. A caesura (pause) may be appropriate, dictated by sense or speech rhythm, and usually little or no punctuation. It has been practiced by Marlene Mountain, John Wills, and Matsuo Allard, and has been used more recently by poets such as M. Kettner, Janice Bostok, Jim Kacian, Chris Gordon, Scott Metz, Dennis M. Garrison, Charles Trumbull, Stuart Quine, and many others.
- pig and i spring rain
- Marlene Mountain (Frogpond 2.3-4, 1979)
- an icicle the moon drifting through it
- Matsuo Allard (Bird Day Afternoon, High/Coo Press, 1978)
Mountain (formerly Wills) also writes collaborative one-line linked haiku and sequences.
One word 
At its most minimal, haiku may occasionally consist of a single word:
- Cor van den Heuvel (the window-washer's pail, 1963)
- John Stevenson (Live Again, 2009)
Four or more lines 
Haiku of four lines (sometimes known as haiqua) or longer have been written, some of them "vertical haiku" with only a word or two per line. These poems mimic the vertical printed form of Japanese haiku.
- she watches
satisfied after love
looking up at nothing
- she watches
- pw (Blithe Spirit 10:4, 2000)
- Marlene Wills (the old tin roof, 1976)
The highly prolific poet John Martone (b. 1952) specializes in vertical haiku along the lines of the examples above.
Haiku have also appeared in circular form (sometimes known as cirku) whereby the poem has no fixed start or end point.
Fixed form 
- buoyed up on the rising tide
- a fleet of head boards bang the wall
- John Carley (Magma No 19, 2001)
Notable poets 
- Lewis Grandison Alexander
- John Brandi
- Ross Clark
- Cid Corman
- Lee Gurga
- James William Hackett
- William J. Higginson
- Jim Kacian
- Jack Kerouac
- James Kirkup
- Anatoly Kudryavitsky
- Lenard D. Moore
- Alan Pizzarelli
- Paul Reps
- Kenneth Rexroth
- Raymond Roseliep
- Gabriel Rosenstock
- Sonia Sanchez
- Gary Snyder
- George Swede
- Cor van den Heuvel
- Nick Virgilio
- Gerald Vizenor
- Paul O. Williams
- Richard Wright
See also 
- Haiku—history and development of haiku in Japan
- Haikai—genre of haiku-related forms
- Hokku—opening verse of the renku, from which haiku derived
- Renku—form of linked poetry from which haiku is derived
- Senryū—satirical verse similar in form to haiku
- Scifaiku—science fiction pseudo-haiku
- Zappai—humorous verse similar in form to haiku
- Matsuyama Declaration
- Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Awards
- Comprising 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second and 5 on the third
- Definition of haiku by the Haiku Society of America
- "How to Write a Haiku Poem: Haiku Examples and Tips". Creative Writing Now. William Victor, S.L. Retrieved 2013-05-14. "Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line."
- "Send your name & message to Mars!". Going to Mars with MAVEN. University of Colorodo: Boulder. Retrieved 2013-05-14. "For the MAVEN contest, we are defining a haiku as a poem made of three lines; the first and last lines must have exactly five syllables each and the middle line must have exactly seven syllables."
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition. Houghton Mifflin Company. 2009. "A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons."
- Haruo Shirane and Lawrence E. Marceau, "Early Modern Literature," in Early Modern Japan, Fall 2002, p27
- Shirane, Haruo. Love in the Four Seasons, in Acta Universitatis Carolinae, Orientalia Pragensia XV, 2005, p135
- Ross, Bruce; How to Haiku; Tuttle Publishing 2002 p.19 ISBN 0-8048-3232-3
- Gurga, Lee; Haiku - A Poet's Guide; Modern Haiku Press 2003 p.16 ISBN 0-9741894-0-5
- Spiess, Robert; Modern Haiku vol. XXXII No. 1 p. 57 "A haiku does not exceed a breath's length." ISSN 0026-7821
- Reichhold, Jane; Writing and Enjoying Haiku - A Hands-On Guide; Kodansha 2002 p.30 and p.75 ISBN 4-7700-2886-5
- Gurga, 2003, p.2 and p.15
- Reichhold, 2002 p.21
- Gurga, 2003 p.105
- Garrison, Denis M. Hidden River: Haiku. Modern English Tanka Press. p. iii. ISBN 978-0-615-13825-1.
- Yasuda. Kenneth. Haiku. Tuttle, 1957. p6
- Biography of Lorraine Ellis Harr on the Aha Poetry website
- Van den Heuvel, Cor. The Haiku Anthology 2nd edition. Simon & Schuster 1986. ISBN 0671628372 p10
- Gill, Stephen Henry et al., editors. Seasons of the Gods Hailstone Haiku Circle, Kansai, 2007. ISBN 978-4-9900822-3-9 p.2
- Zip School on Carley's website
- Zips in Magma No 19 - Winter 2001
- The Lune: The English Language Haiku by Holly Bliss at GoArticles.com
- Lipson, Greta B. Poetry Writing Handbook: Definitions, Examples, Lessons. Lorenz Educational Press, 1998. ISBN 9781573101080 p53
Further reading 
- Henderson, H. G. An Introduction to Haiku. Hokuseido Press, 1948.
- Higginson, William J. and Harter, Penny. The Haiku Handbook, How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. Kodansha, 1989. ISBN 4-7700-1430-9.
- Higginson, William J. Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac. Kodansha, 1996. ISBN 4-7700-2090-2.
- Sato, Hiroaki. One Hundred Frogs, from renga to haiku to English. Weatherhill, 1983. ISBN 0-8348-0176-0.
- Suiter, John. Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen & Jack Kerouac in the Cascades. Counterpoint, 2002. ISBN 1-58243-148-5; ISBN 1-58243-294-5 (pbk).
- Yasuda, Ken. Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History, and Possibilities in English. Tuttle, 1957. ISBN 0-8048-1096-6.
- Hirshfield, Jane. The Heart of Haiku (Kindle Single, 2011)
- A Guide to Haiku Publications, 2008 from HSA