Déjà-ku . . .

blue moon
all the words we’ve left

Recently an editor wrote me that he would have selected the above haiku for his journal . . . but, looking back, he discovered that he had printed a very similar-seeming haiku several years before.  One of the (many) challenges of writing haiku has to do with the fact that it is only three lines long and, when combined with common kigos (i.e., “blue moon”), there is often overlap between writers of haiku.  Thus . . . déjà-ku–a term the editor credited to the highly respected haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch.  I’ve noticed this phenomenon before, especially when submitting haiku to kukai contests where many writers are given one phrase or theme as a prompt to come up with something original.  Not an easy task.

It is a little frustrating to be told that your poem would have been selected if only it didn’t sound so familiar.  But the lesson . . . and challenge . . . for me is to try to write in a more original way while respecting the form.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

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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6 Responses to Déjà-ku . . .

  1. I’ve never come across that term before, but yes, very easy to write similar three-liners. I think it shows the beauty of how much more alike we all are as human beings than we sometimes think.
    At the end of the day, if the haiku means something to you then it was worth recording. And thank you for sharing it with us here 🙂

    • Hi, Kirsten. I never had either, but I think it’s clever. I like your take on things, as always. And appreciate your thoughts. It was not my intention to sound as if I were whining, and I hope I did not. I was simply making an observation about the challenge to stretch myself . . .

      • No, you didn’t sound like you were whining at all, Margaret. I justed wanted to be sure that you were still ultimately enjoying the process of writing haiku, and not only basing whether your work was good or not on an editor’s say so. Just write what your heart wants to write because once you find your voice in haiku then that is your originality, it is unique to you.

  2. I’ve even run into déjà-ku (Great term!)with my own haiku, but not too often.

    I guess it helps that my haiku often aren’t strictly traditional.

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