Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Is Haiku?

     I read a book about of one of the greatest haiku masters, Kobayashi Issa. In the author’s introduction, I came across these lines. I love the way he describes haiku.

Like many of the delicate Japanese ink drawings, haiku uses clear outlines of thoughts in order to convey a multitude of images, moods, and sensations. Every word is carefully balanced by every other word and no word, thought, or image is ever used to excess. In one respect a haiku poem is like a tree in winter without leaves, suggesting through its shape, nakedness, and the imagination of the reader what it will look like, full-bloom, in the summer. What is not said in a haiku poem is as important as what is said- or as one poet put it: “It is a hand beckoning, a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean.”
Richard Lewis
Of This World: A Poet's Life in Poetry      


  1. Hello Christine
    I am enjoying my time going through your blog and such beautiful haiku that you write. Congratulations for all those ocassions where your haiku got published.

    I am a beginner and just wondering if you have a few suggestions regarding books that a beginner can start off with. I did ask this same question on NaHaiWriMo and got a few suggestions. I have bought one of the books suggested and am going through it slowly. Would like to know what your thoughts are on this.

    Thank you

  2. Hi, Jayashree! Thank you for visiting my blog and for the generous compliments. :-)

    Have you started reading Writing and Enjoying Haiku by Jane Reichhold? Have you also checked out her website ahapoetry.com? If you read her Bare Bones School of Haiku, you'll learn a lot of basic things about haiku.That's how I started. It helped me understand the fragment and phrase part of haiku, techniques, punctuation,etc.Check out my resources too which is at the righthand side of my blog. I listed a a few things there for beginners. :-)

    I'm glad that you're interested in writing haiku. Just be patient and don't give up. Keep on reading examples from haiku books and journals. That's how you'll get the feel of it. I love reading haiku on NaHaiWrimo, too. The group is very supportive.

    Oh, by the way... these are two other books that have helped me a lot.

    Haiku in English by Harold G. Henderson
    The Haiku Anthology by Cor van den Heuvel

    Just write me if you have any other questions.:-)

    1. Thank you so much! I just learnt through your blog how Svetlana Marisova and Ted van Zutphen met. All I can say is WOW! Must have been the most beautiful experience.

      I have bookmarked quite a few weblinks and sometimes it is too tempting to keep skipping from one to the other. I have watched a video of Jane Reichhold. ahapoetry.com is also in my list of bookmarked sites!

      I am currently reading The Haiku Handbook by William J Higginson and Penny Harter. Sometimes I wish I had more hours in a day to sit and read but thats ok..I do it when I have time on my hands. Your blog is really very resourceful and the haiku of course.....they are all great! I have added your blog to my Google Reader so that I can browse through in my free time. Thanks for the books. Will keep them on mind when I go looking for my next book to read.

      NaHaiWriMo has been a great find and I enjoy taking part and reading others. I have seen you too! Will take your advice on board.

      Take care,

  3. Yes, it's incredible how people can find their own soulmates. :-) I wish I had a chance to meet her.

    Oh, I know what you mean. That's what I always say - I wish I had more time in my hands to read. So much stuff to learn!

    Why don't you try printing them out? I have a folder where I organize my favorite haiku essays, haiku from different journals, guidelines for submission, etc. It makes it easier for me to read and highlight important parts.

    Thanks for finding my blog resourceful and for appreciating my haiku. It feels good when a reader finds them significant.

    I've not been posting lately at NaHaiWriMo. I'm not as prolific as the others. Also, once I've posted my haiku there, it limits my opportunity to submit it elsewhere. Most journals consider that published. When I have time, I love reading the haiku posted by poets, though. I also try to keep track of what's the latest on Graceguts. Michael Dylan Welch's has a wealth of information on his blog. Have you ever read any of his haiku essays? I've learned a lot from him.

    Well, I hope I've given you more advice. Let me know if you need any help. You can email me at chrissi731(at)hotmail(dot)com.

    Have a blessed day!