The other day I tagged yet another post as ‘haiku’. Later, in the comments, I admitted that the description was probably inaccurate, and it occurs to me that any reader who clicks to read other haiku posts on the blog might infer that I don’t actually know what the word means.
There are plenty of factors that may be taken into account when defining a haiku, including number of lines, syllable count, subject, kigo (season word), kireji (cutting word) etc.
Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever written 5-7-5, natural-world poem that juxtaposes two images to produce an “a-ha!” reaction in the reader. That approximately sums up my understanding of the strictest definition of the form, but I happily ignore any or all of the elements when I’m writing.
There are plenty of interesting pages on-line that talk about what is and isn’t a haiku, and plenty that discuss the importance of the different elements of the form when writing in English. I think, though, that there is still some debate about what does and doesn’t class as a haiku in English and I’m aware that I’m using the term ‘haiku’ as a sort of place holder.
What I’m writing would often be more accurately described as ‘imagist fragments’ or ‘short nature poetry’, but I don’t think those are very useful tags for blog-posts. (Often, too, I’m not writing about nature: it’s more like English-language senryu.)
Over on the ‘Bureau of Public Secrets’ website there’s a piece Thirty-one translations and one commentary about Bashô’s pond and frog, one of the best known of all haiku.
The following is certainly not a haiku in any recognised sense of the word. But that won’t stop me tagging it as one.
office worker steps in