Skip to main content

Haiku Revisited

Haiku poet Michael Dylan Welch shares some thoughts on writing haiku the right way.

Michael Dylan Welch, who wrote on haiku for the 2005 Poet's Market, stopped by and offered some great advice in the comments to my "Haiku: Easy or Hard?" post from earlier this week. While it's probably best to read the comments first-hand, I figured I'd make it easy on people since the advice is very useful.

Some highlights:

  • "My sense of things is that practically no current literary haiku writers believe the 5-7-5 pattern of syllables is applicable in English (in Japanese they count sounds, not syllables, which is why a one-syllable word like 'scarf,' in English, is counted as FOUR sounds when said in Japan, something like 'su-ka-ar-fu'), so I'm not sure I'd call 5-7-5 a 'traditional' viewpoint in English. More like a traditional misunderstanding."
  • "Rather, what matters most in the tradition of haiku is kigo (season word) and kireji (cutting word), as well as objective sensory imagery (thus one wouldn't say that rain 'stampedes' the mud, because, as interesting as that is, it shows your interpretation and lacks the objectivity that lets readers have their own reaction to a carefully crafted image)."
  • "At any rate, I always like to quote philosopher Roland Barthes on haiku. He said that 'The haiku has this rather fantasmagorical property: that we always suppose we ourselves can write such things easily.' Paradoxically, haiku is both easy and hard."

Welch also provided to links to check out:

  1. His essay "Becoming a Haiku Poet" at http://www.haikuworld.org/begin/mdwelch.apr2003.html
  2. Keiko Imaoka's essay "Forms in English Haiku" at http://asgp.org/agd-poems/keiko-essay.html

I would like to thank Welch, who is an expert in his field, for sharing so much great information with everyone. This is what having a community of poets is all about as far as I'm concerned.

*****

The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Award-winning author, playwright, and journalist Mark Kurlansky discusses the experience of channeling Ernest Hemingway in his new memoir, The Importance of Not Being Ernest.

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

Things To Consider When Writing About Ghosts and the Supernatural in Fiction

From maintaining subtlety to visiting haunted places, author J. Fremont shares everything to consider when writing about ghosts and the supernatural in fiction.