haiku

Haiku101

What is haiku?

Haiku is a Japanese form of short poetry developed by Matsuo Basho in the early 17th century. In Japan, it usually consists of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables in a five-seven-five pattern. While modern literary English-language haiku is often composed of even fewer syllables, Haiku for Life books follow the five-seven-five pattern. Good haiku usually aims to connect two distinct images that leaves the reader with an "a-ha!" moment of understanding.

What is the difference between haiku and senryu?

Japanese poets often make a distinction between haiku for nature poems and senryu for poems about human nature and personal experience. Haiku for Life books are much more senryu than haiku. However, Basho Press avoids the term senryu simply because it is so unfamiliar to most American readers. The proper term to describe all types of short poetic forms of Japanese origin (including haiku, senryu, tanka, renga, and others) is haikai.

Where can I go for more information on haiku?

For an excellent introduction to the history and forms of literary haiku, check out William J. Higginson's The Haiku Handbook or Cor van den Heuvel's The Haiku Anthology.

The Haiku Society of America's website (www.hsa-haiku.org) has a number of good resources and can help direct you to your local haiku club. Consider becoming a member!

© 2007 David Ash Basho Press