But is it haiku? . . .

     The jars of octopus–
brief dreams
     under the summer moon.
                                                  –Bashō (trans., Robert Hass)

Much of what I’ve done so far on this blog is not, strictly speaking, haiku.  After all, where’s the obligatory season word–the kigo?  For that matter, where’s the reference to nature anywhere?  (Unless, of course, you’re willing to extend the definition of nature to humans and all they hold dear in the form of another person, place, or thing . . . but probably not.  I think I’m strongly attracted to senryū . . .  And, yes, I’ll leave you to look it up . . .) 

At any rate, I have, for the most part, stuck to short verses and, I hope, somewhat Zen-like moments of aha on this blog.  In an effort, however, to show that I am more than open to more traditional nature-inspired forms, here are some of my recent atempts (the results of playing in Rick Daddario’s ku-me chain) at English language haiku, starting with a nod, once again, to my pilgrimage poet-hero, Bashō (and the above haiku):

octopus in a jar:
the inky smell of words
on ricepaper . . .

half a nectarine
attached to a silk ribbon–
sunset kite

inside pocket:
wallet keys comb
an old forgotten fortune

Sorry about that last one–probably not haiku . . .




About Margaret Dornaus

I’m a writer and a teacher, as well as a haiku-doodler. I live in a beautiful woodland setting, surrounded by native oak forests, that inspires me to record haiku snapshots of luna moths and our resident roadrunner, and even an occasional black bear as it hightails it across the top of my road, my mongrel dog barking at its heels as I watch with wonder. My work as a travel writer has appeared in publications from The Dallas Morning News to the Robb Report. You can find examples of my travel writing–as well as excerpts from a travel memoir I’m working on–at my other WordPress site, Travelin’ On. What more than that do you need to know? Only that I started this blog with an eye toward collaboration. Got a haiku? Send it my way. . . . I’m all about new visions & voices. Best, Margaret
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8 Responses to But is it haiku? . . .

  1. Van K. Brock says:

    Since we aren’t being strict, your mention of willow reminded me of these images extracted from one of my unpublished longer poems.

    A blue heron glides
    low over Willow, pink landing
    gear trailing, seeking

    calm pools with trapped pike
    hidden in rocks. eyes yearning,
    the feather tree lands

    not fathoming grave-
    yards sliding over Puebla
    villages, greening

    • Beautiful . . . It’s good to hear from you, as always. I love the “pink landing gear . . . ,” the “calm pools with trapped pike . .. ,” “the feather tree . . . ” Extraordinary. . . . Did I mention “willow”?

  2. aloha Margaret and mahalo (thank you) for the nod to the ku-me chaining game – which can be played here:


    (for some reason the link on my name in the blog entry above goes to a WP dot Org page.)

    …way fun, and yes, all level of players are welcome to play. for me the more haiku i attempt the more progress i make with my understanding of haiku. i like that.

    as simple (yet complex) as haiku is, traditional haiku is in some ways easier for me to identify AS haiku than modern haiku is (or may be i’m just more used to it?). …as long as you dont actually ask me to do it too often. i do enjoy many aspects of traditional haiku. i clearly do not hold to traditional haiku in a lot of the ku-ing i do – altho it’s fun to try it sometimes. imo, it’s up to us in our own world – time and place, may be even culture – to define our own haiku and haiku definition/tradition (what actually makes haiku – haiku?). …good luck on that definition reaching universal consensus tho… …because the haiku definition/tradition of our day seems to be evolving at a rate that currently rivals digital and web technology. what is fun, enlightening and awesome (imo) is to jump in and hopefully learn along the way. so, ku on as far as i’m concerned.

    as to your last ku above… i wonder what would happen if the last two lines were switched around in it? would that then become closer to Your definition of haiku? may be not. may be it wouldnt be old and forgotten? i suppose it could still be old… sheesh. (i hope you dont mind me playing in this way, sometimes it’s just way fun to try).

    and i have to agree with you – pink landing gear – is a gem. fun.

    • Whew! Thanks for your thoughts, Rick . . . Like you, I think the “definition” of haiku is as fluid as mercury . . . or megabytes. Speaking of, I fixed the link to your site. Thank you for bringing that to my attention.

  3. Eric says:

    Nice work! I’m a big proponent of non-traditional haiku (a.k.a. 5-7-5 Free-Form). I write lots of them, although I do occasionally stumble and write a traditional haiku.

    I post one almost daily (with pictures) at Haiku-Koo-Koo.

    I also post them in bunches (sans photos) on my WordPress Blog under the title “Haiku-Ku” (listed numberically – Haiku-Ku 1, Haiku-Ku 2, etc.)

    I try to follow all the Haiku blogs I run into (just added yours) and I hope you’ll come around to check out some of my silly posts sometime.

  4. heednotsteve says:

    Hi Margaret,

    You know, I’ve struggled with that same question, “Is it really haiku” and I’ve come to the same conclusion – probably not.

    But, we, in the west, are working on building our own tradition. It maybe isn’t traditional haiku but . . . it’s *something*. Eventually, I figure it will grow and categorize itself and name itself. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Japanese already have a name for Western, english language, digital blog, haiku-esque short verse!

    So, with some misgivings, I just continue calling the ku I write haiku and figure I can keep on doing so until the haiku-police rap on my door!

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