Tuesday, December 28, 2004

A Note on Haiku Forms

Most of the books and essays on haiku address the 5-7-5 syllable, three-line
issue. Without re-addressing these issues, I think it's important to understand
that haiku are moments of insight. The poet sees or hears something and it is
like a snapshot or brief snippet of song. It is brief. Haiku should be as brief--the
length of a breath, or less. I usually attempt to be as brief as possible--no extra
words or syllables. Such as:

pet store
nose prints
both sides

w.f. owen
A New Resonance 2 (Red Moon Press), 2001

Other times, there is a rhythmic quality that is part of the meaning (that is, in
concert with, but distinct from the word meanings). Such as:

early autumn chill
the widow brings home a fish
in a plastic bag

w.f. owen
Mainichi Daily News, September 2004, Tokyo, Japan

This poem is one of the few 5-7-5 syllable counts I have written. I think mainly it just
came out "right" that way. Maybe it is because I featured the old woman trudging all
the way home with her new companion. Even though a small package, she likely
was exhausted at the end of her shopping trip. Long poem, long shopping trip.

Also, some poems are best written in one line--often if a line is consistent with
the image(s), such as:

another argument unfolds the futon

w.f. owen
A New Resonance 2 (Red Moon Press), 2001

The whole point is that there are multiple forms for haiku, but that, in my opinion,
must be "right" for the experience of the moment.