Scroll further down to see my own published 5-7-5 haiku.
One pitfall is the awkward enjambment, which can work so well in other genres of poetry, but not so much in haiku.
The running-over of a sentence or phrase from one poetic line to the next, without terminal punctuation; the opposite of end-stopped. William Carlos Williams’s “Between Walls” is one sentence broken into 10 enjambed lines:
Where enjambment might work well in free verse etc... it can work against a haiku poem, especially if it is used merely to make a forced syllable count, for its own sake, and not for the sake of the poem itself.
Cutting a line off abruptly just to make a 'syllable count' in a particular line such as the attempt to make a 575 syllablic stanza/verse might be good for a longer poem of many such verses, but it can lose the ability to be called a haiku.
Here's a made up 575 verse/stanza that I've created as an example and would never call a haiku.
It might be 3 lines, and five syllables, seven syllables, and five syllables respectively for each line, but it's not a haiku.
Neither could be called any kind of related haikai verse such as hokku (as written by the Classic Japanese poets like Basho, Chiyo-ni, Buson, Issa etc...) or internal renga verses.
deep blue and very
soon there will be another
cloud along the way
The example above is deliberately clumsy and clunky. It may well work as a funny standalone poem, or part of a longer poem of many verses, but it is definitely not haiku or hokku, or an internal renga verse.
Here's an example selected for one of the world's top haiku magazines outside Japan:
a part of the underworld
becomes one heron
Publication Credit: Modern Haiku Vol. 45.2 Summer 2014
ed. Paul Miller
The night of small colour haiku was also selected as one of the top 100 haiku (out of thousands) of 2014 to appear in:
The short verse poem is a haiku NOT because it has a pattern of syllables in 5-7-5 as much as it secures kire and vertical axis.
The vertical axis deals with the under-story, or sub-text, or extra-narrative strings, of a haiku, whereas the other axis, (the horizontal axis) is the surface story (or a part of the deeper, embedded, narrative) that we can read on a surface level.
Regarding the under-story of the haiku:
Herons are connected to folklore:
And of course the underworld :
A reader does not have to see beyond the surface level of this haiku to feel it's a particularly dark and badly illuminated night that followed twilight, and that can feel like a netherworld, separate to our normal day to day existence.
The haiku is also anthologised in this anthology that has a section on 575 haiku by numerous poets, and all proceeds go to charity, and Yanty's family.
Just because we are going to make contemporary haiku (in English) longer by going for the 575 syllable count, we should still pay attention to various useful devices.
Award Credit: Best of Mainichi, Japan 2014
1st Prize, World Monuments Fund 2012 Haiku Contest (New York, USA)
Battersea Power Station:
The life, death and rebirth of a London icon
Jake Wallis Simons, for CNN
through the eye of a needle
the dragonfly’s glint
another of the red leaves
caught on an easel
From 5-7-5 to 8-8-8
Haiku Metrics and Issues of Emulation
RICHARD GILBERT and JUDY YONEOKA
Publication: Language Issues: Journal of the Foreign Language Education Center (vol. 1)
Prefectural University of Kumamoto, Kumamoto (March 2000) Japan.
As co-founder of Call of the Page (with Karen Hoy)
we also regularly run online courses for haiku (and related genres): www.callofthepage.org
For more information contact Karen at: