Haibun Poems: Poetic Form

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The haibun is the combination of two poems: a prose poem and haiku. The form was popularized by the 17th century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. Both the prose poem and haiku typically communicate with each other, though poets employ different strategies for this communication—some doing so subtly, while others are more direct.

The prose poem usually describes a scene or moment in an objective manner. In other words, the pronoun "I" isn't often used—if at all. Meanwhile, the haiku follows the typical rules for haiku.

Here is my attempt at a haibun poem:


In the shadow of the Nevado del Ruiz, rice farmers woke as if on any other morning. Their daily pleasures and worries were the same as always. Even the smoke and eruptions that afternoon were familiar—though masked by a thunderstorm—no one aware of the approaching lahars.

not the sound
but drops of rain
scatter ants


As you may have guessed, a new poetic form challenge is around the corner. It'd probably be a good idea to work on your haibuns today and share them tomorrow.


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Learn more about poetic forms...

...with The Poetry Dictionary, by John Drury. The book is loaded with poetic forms, poetic terms, poetic schools, poetic history, and poems!

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