Elegant poetry, artistry with words, conveys exquisite ideas

Elegant poetry,

artistry with words

conveys exquisite ideas

One of the oldest forms of poetry is the Haiku.  It consists of seventeen syllables arranged in three lines of five, seven and five. Other related Japanese literary forms are Haibun and Tanka.  Haibun is a form that combines Haiku and prose and Tanka is a five line poem with set number of syllables per line, a sort of Haiku plus.   Another characteristic of Haiku is the cut, the Haiku is divided into two unequal sections.  A juxtaposition is created between the two sections.

Originally Haiku was restricted to subjects relating to nature and the natural world with a link to the seasons. The form gained popularity in the 17th century during the Tokugawa period.  The greatest exponent of the haiku was Basho (1644-1694).  Over time the subject range began to spread but it remained an art of getting an emotional response in a few words.

In the 20th Century haiku influenced many writers like D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Marianne Moore, R.H. Blyth, Ezra Pound to name a few.  Some people put forward Ezra Pound’s poem “In a station of the Metro” as the first successful Haiku in English.  Pound was a member of the Imagism movement. This was a group of poets who favoured clear, sharp language. A feature of Imagism is the isolation of a single image and then to reveal its essence.  This is essentially Haiku.

In the 1940’s the Beat poets, Ginsberg, Kerouac, et al, experimented with the form.  Jack Kerouac’s work The Dhama Bums contains embedded haiku.  This makes it a modern haibun.  Kerouac had a flexible approach to the haiku; as he says “A ‘Western Haiku’ need not concern itself with seventeen syllables since Western Languages cannot adapt themselves to the fluid syllabic Japanese. I propose that the ‘Western Haiku’ simply say a lot in three short lines in any Western Language.

The British Haiku Society was founded in 1990 and is pioneering the appreciation and writing of haiku in the UK.  It also has links with similar organisations throughout the world.


Guest blog by Ian Thirkettle


vauxhall treasure hunt haiku
Park Life – A haiku treasure hunt

Park Life – A Treasure Hunt

The clues for this hunt will all be Haiku’s which will lead to items within the parks of Vauxhall, South London.

Tickets available from Treasure Hunts In London




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