Examples of diffeRENT Expressions

It is obvious that publishers cannot be the only judges of the quality of Haiku. We are all as haiku readers affected by a good haiku as well as puzzled by a “nonsense” haiku or, more seldom, put off by a “bad” haiku.

From idea to poem

How do we write haiku? I myself start with an observation or an idea and play around with words to condense the idea into a “ku”.  Let me take two haiku, generated from the same observation and see how the end result differs.

I choose the idea “morning fog”

One writer presented the following shahai (haiku written to a photo) on that topic:

magicians lake house, 
disappears every morning; 
foggy illusions ~

epc 1956-  Ed Crowley

Photo by dbn dixie 

Another one was made by me, made into a haibun, i.e. a short paragraph followed by a haiku:

It happens that I have to get up early in the morning. In sunrise, at half past 3, I met a sight that covered the whole nature around me. It had disappeared when I finally rose, but it is still in my memory.

morning fog clouds
leave shimmering twigs
lake lies still

Now to my experience of the haiku:

The idea that a house disappears every morning is mind boggling and still quite comprehensible, since it is the magician’s house. I remember that haiku can be playful in many ways.

My own haiku is more ‘awe’ inspired. I chose words to alliterate, not for play but for beauty,

Still I am more attracted by Ed’s haiku. Any thoughts about this?

Essentials of haiku

Since the worldwide phenomenon of haiku is under development, we can ask ourselves if there are any particular characteristics of haiku. I will here report what I have read (and hopefully understood) from a book on haiku: The Penguin Book of Haiku, presented by Adam L. Kern.

To quote from page XXXVII, the essence of haiku is ”its extreme, almost excessive brevity”. 

Many people equalize haiku with a three line poem where there should be 5 – 7 – 5 syllables on the lines following each other. In modern haiku the ”rule” rather goes: short-long-short.

Here is one example of 5-7-5, not one of the best:

the grazing robot

no longer works on my grass –

dandelions’ stop


More essential than syllable counting is the requirement that a haiku should contain a season word (Japanese ”kigo”) and a ”cut” (Japanese ”kire”). For modern poetists, the ”cut” is the most important. What is this?

The cut is the pause between two ideas in a haiku. The cut most often appears after the first line or before the last one. The reader is startled and starts trying to get the ideas to fit together. That’s what makes haiku interesting, at least for me

I made one myself like this:

a fallen tree

the smell of broken wood

– into a haiku


This one I made in a satiric mood – I thought that every tragedy might be turned into a haiku.

Note that there is no season word in this haiku. A tree can fall whenever. For me, the idea was more important than the observation. 

The relationship between the two parts (sometimes called ”fragment” and ”phrase” respectively) can consist in:




In my haiku I wanted to contrast the text (haiku) against the natural phenomenon (tree).

There is a lot to be read bout this topic, and I want to recommend the following presentation by Alan Summers:

Examples of Good Haiku

Of course, I forgot the most important: Haiku is an art, not a science.You may be able to make it  into a sience by analyzing various haiku. That’s what I tried. That is like taking all the petals from a flower to see where the beauty lies. Also, I forgot that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. I am the viewer. I am to blame if I don’t see the beauty. 

So, after having read some of the Penguin Book of Haiku, I can say that a good Haiku is up the the reader, although not whatever can be called a Haiku.

Let me only give some good examples of haiku. Good, because they have been published. There is a procedure that guarantees quality in publication.  I have chosen some haiku written by Alan Summers, for several reasons:

– He is well known  in the Haiku society

– He has taught Haiku for a long time

– He is still humble enough to say:” I am learning.”

The examples come here:

why didn’t I

the blue in her eyes

cutting string

Alan Summers. Publication credit:  Sonic Boom, Issue Thirteen 2018



smooth coins

how we slip away

into blue velvet

Alan Summers  

The Haiku Foundation HAIKU DIALOGUE – a smooth coin 

ed. Craig Kittner (February 2019)

Butterfly of the meadows – Mother of pearls

I sat still, hardly breathing. She was not the least shy – until I wanted to take a picture of her.

No! She did not want to be caught -not enclosed in an album, not exposed on Facebook! Haven’t butterflies any privacy rights?

Excuse me, princess, but you are so beautiful. And your name -it carries me away: Mother of pearls of the meadows!

So, instead of a picture I made a poem for you – haiku-ish:

a butterfly

my sandal a landing place

mother of pearl

(The picture is taken from Wikipedia)

Haiku reflections

After two months in various Haiku communities I have made some observations.

It seems that there are different ”schools” within and between the groups. So, when I saw comments as ”personal”, they rather referred to different approaches to haiku.

I have not experienced more than a couple of differing approaches. At the moment I’ll comment on the idea that haiku should be purely ”observational”. This link is a very nice example of that approach: 


I’ll take one image as a point of departure

How does the observational requirement affect my writing?

What I saw was a straw of grass that raised itself up from the collection of peonies. The straw was so beautiful and still not easily observable.

My first reaction was the following:

In the peonies
the head of a grass straw 
a flute among drums

And then I reacted:

Not so! This is a simile

I looked in the book and started with the time of my observation:

a day in July
a straw among peonies
that lost their petals

This is only one observation, let me add another to make it into two observations. I looked at the clouds and felt some soft rain.

a day in July
a straw among peonies
Soft rain

Acceptable but not particularly interesting

Then I wanted to add a text to the photo to make it a shahai:

A day in July
Grass grows
Birds are silent

Acceptable but not particularly interesting. Or – I know! Birds usually stop singing when they expect bad weather.Maybe a reader can see this?

A high grass straw  –
A bumble-bee dives down
into a flower

Which one is OK? You can see the grass but not the bumble bee (that I have got in another picture). I don’t know!

Comments welcome!