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The Modern Haiku Form Updated

Updated on June 21, 2012
The Ampersand a musical note means more to come
The Ampersand a musical note means more to come

A New Kind Of Haiku

The ampersand tells

us that more words will arrive

after the notation

Breaking the rules we

don't expect Japanese

culture to do

Discomfort feels ugh

like a punch in the stomach

where it hurts the most

Even melodic

natural themes of trees and

sky disappear now

In this modern era

when we do as we please with

out regard for limits

Someone Told Me

I have been told that since the origin of haiku comes from the Japanese culture and written in the Japanese language, not English, we may use other than the traditional 5-7-5 syllable form.

The Flow

Because the melody, rhythm and beat in Japanese flow sweetly like water rippling in a pond, the translation into the English language loses the sound. The tongue movements clanking and the ears listening may not catch the sound like the ringing of a bell.

Freedom Rings

Thus, many modern poets have become unbounded by the number of syllables. This has struck me as both wonderful and freeing, plus strange for one used to rules and adherence to a form that describes the making of a definition.

Bindings Like Japanese Feet Create Restrictions

I suppose those who do write in this unbounded less strict way for their haiku must be recognized and once known for their intention can be given a name, "modern haiku." When finding a way to accept what appears different and not familiar we can see how it fits within the overall label. So, calling an apple and an orange both fruits makes sense to me, but not giving each the name of the other.

How many lines is that?

In fact, many astute masters of the haiku form prefer to use fewer words and thus few syllables to create their three lines of poetry. Now, wouldn't it be strange if someone came along and said, I am writing haiku, but instead of three lines, it can be two lines or even one line, since it carries the 17 syllables all together in the number of lines? Ponder that conundrum for a moment. Do we now include them into the haiku form without the three lines?

My question poses
rules that make up the structure
of the poetry

Form that makes it so
inclusive elusive to
feel in your body.

Notes In Every Season

On another note, must the content adhere strictly to 'nature' and a 'season' as we have been told? I've read books of haiku that contain pure humorous ditties about life, ideas that make us laugh, or some other topic serious in nature. I ask again, do you feel that content reigns king in this form of poetry? Can we write whatever springs forth in the line and or syllable form and call it "haiku?"

References for the original author

For those who wish to submit an origin free form modern haiku that has never been published either in print or on the internet visit The Heron's Nest.

For those who want to see even more examples, please take a look at Basho's Haiku where some editors have compiles works of this Japanese artist.

Let's give it a new name, shall we?

After some consideration, I'm thinking that to differentiate the authentic and original Japanese style Haiku in its own language from those written in English, perhaps we could give the contemporary style form written in English a new name. It appears that the Japanese works, so mulit-layered with double entendre and inuendo embedded in its form a particular quality and richness that perhaps English can only approximate.

Research into the definition of Haiku

The last resource for those who want to read more about this new form of poetry that frees the bonds of syllables as chains and restrictions to create three lines of musical poetry, visit Jane Reichold and delve into a wonderful new world. You will learn much about how to construct your poetry, how to break the lines and create meaning with so few colorful and descriptive words. Play with them and see.

The humble crocus  awakens in the springtime bursting through the snow
The humble crocus awakens in the springtime bursting through the snow | Source

Humming like crickets
the furnace warms the night time
in our winter home

Even if I try
My lines like ribbons flow in
habitual breaks

* * *

Didn't the crocus know
February was much too
early to bloom?

Hunt and Peck Haiku | Grabbing words and ideas from the imagination to create haiku. An experiment in allowing the subconscious mind to wander and write the words.

This Hubpages expands on our concept of strict style and form for a haiku written in the English language. We may take "liberties!" Does that ring a bell?

About the Author

Debby Bruck, CHOM loves to write about various topics on Hubpages. Playing with poetry, discussing serious subjects about the environment, health and sometimes dabbling into politics. Spending too much time on Twitter and writing tons of blogs.

All rights reserved © copyright Debby Bruck 2012

Thank You For Your Comments, Poetry and Thoughts

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    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Thanks so much Doc, I will have to check out this other combination art form you call Haiga. Many blessings, Debby

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      6 years ago from UK

      I love this form of succinct expression. It helps us to say so much with so little. This is a great, informative hub on the haiku : I have recently discovered that a combination of haiku and pictures ( Haiga) is also an exciting format- I have written a couple of collections here in the hub- 'Ten Haiku for love' and 'More Haiku for love'... here's an example

      Waves try, try again

      Sand beach yields some, some more

      My words and your love

      voted up/awesome!

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Charles ~ So pleased to meet you. Thank you for leaving your personal experiences. Perhaps the more people who feel this way and tell others, will liberate and sway more people to use haiku more freely. Blessings, Debby

    • profile image

      Charles Hilton 

      6 years ago

      I've taken liberties in the past with haiku that haiku purists have taken me to task for. I still do the 5-7-5 format, as a rule of thumb, but, prefer to experiment.

      Excellent hub!

      Voted up!

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Lesley ~ I will have to check out your efforts to create some haiku poetry. So lovely, simple, sweet and easy. Blessings, Debby

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Debby, I do like this form of poetry and have enjoyed having a go!!

      Very informative and I loved your crocus haiku especially.

      Voted up, thank you.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Melis ~ Such kind and supportive words much appreciated these days. Blessings, Debby

    • Melis Ann profile image

      Melis Ann 

      6 years ago from Mom On A Health Hunt

      Outlined very simply and inspirational too. Wonderful to see this creativity available to the masses - thanks!

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Hi Frank ~ Haiku is not for everyone. At least not for all writers, but many may appreciate the form. Blessings, Debby

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      6 years ago from Shelton

      i don't know much about Haiku.. but you seem to given clearity here for me LOL thank you.. I think

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Haha thank you for such a very sweet and kind compliment. I sometimes feel like a prickly old thorn. Lol

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Thank you so much Rosemay. I think of your name as poetry every time I read and say it. A flower that blooms in the springtime. Blessings, Debby

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      6 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A very informative hub. I must admit that I find it hard to break from the standard rules. It is a long while since I wrote any Haiku. Thank you for the link to Jane Reichold.

      I enjoyed your hub and your Hauku, I love the crocus one. beautiful

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Thank you Moonlake for letting me know how much you enjoyed reading these Haiku poems. Appreciation is as much an art as writing. Blessings, Debby

    • moonlake profile image


      6 years ago from America

      I'm addicted to Haiku, love reading them. I know so little about Haiku but enjoyed reading your hub about Modern Haiku. Voted Up.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Hello Dear Raciniwa ~ I hope your spirit lifts after visiting Hubpages and our wonderful supportive community. Just pour out your thoughts on paper poetry. Blessings, Debby

    • raciniwa profile image


      6 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      ah, the sweet respite from the sadness that grips me today...

      Basho is one of the well known Japanese writers thank you for sharing...i guess you are right, we shouldn't just contend with nature, but on the outpouring of emotions too...

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Elena ~ Three simple lines of poetry. Just a few syllables and words. Some people find it daunting to approach minimalism. Somehow, I feel at ease as I allow thoughts to flow from the heart. Being in nature creates the "awesome" ah-ha of spirit. I believe this shines through each murmur. Blessings, Debby

    • Lady_E profile image


      6 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for sharing. I enjoy writing Poems but still haven't got the hang of writing a Haiku - and it's just 3 lines.

      This was interesting to read... Cheers.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Hello Audrey ~ I need to revisit some of your poetry pages. I bet you've done your share of haiku. One little birdie told me all about Jane. blessings, Debby

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      This is a wonderful and informative hub--and thank you for including the link to Jane Reichold's site--the Japanese language has a flow and elegance about it that English lacks to some extent---but the sense of beauty and flow in English can be found and probably should be important to all the forms extracted from Japan: haiku, senryu and tanka--at least that would be what I would look for--I think--I am rambling a bit--(not elegant at all!)

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Cardisa ~ You have more talents than we can shake a stick at and I give you permission to sit back, relax and simply read for the enjoyment.

      Dear Finance - Thanks for taking a look at this type of literature. Many things in life we can simply 'appreciate' and not be the ones 'doing' the arts.

      Dear Sue - Thank you for the additional information which helps put things in perspective. As you also maintain the recognized count, it seems to flow from me in the same pattern. Breaking the regulations takes extra effort, but if I can let my mind 'let go' of the restrictions, then perhaps I can also accept the differences.

      Blessings to all my Hubpages friends


    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Debby

      I have always followed the 5-7-5 rule.

      The following is from Wikepedia.

      Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae), in three phrases of 5, 7 and 5 on respectively. Although haiku are often stated to have 17 syllables, this is incorrect as syllables and on are not the same.

      Some translators of Japanese poetry have noted that about 12 syllables in English approximates the duration of 17 Japanese on.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Take care

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      6 years ago from Jamaica

      I don't have the discipline for Haiku so no desire to write it but I must admit that when I see a Haiku hub, I skip over everything else to get am addicted to it but I think I would lose the awesomeness of it if I wrote it myself. Thanks for the lessons.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Hello dear Vinaya ~ You poetic talents excel. Perhaps weren't born into English, so this may be why you have the syllable difficulty. I'm sure I couldn't write even one poem in your language. And, so, I my skills in Japanese nil. Thus, I try to stick to the strict English form, but may attempt some freedom with syllables in the future and call it "Modern" Haiku. Blessings, Debby

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Ann ~ Practice makes perfect!

      Dear Ruchira ~ Is this your first introductions to Haiku? Well, I've written a good number of articles over the past three years on Haiku, so take a look and learn a bunch more. Blessings, Debby

    • Ruchira profile image


      6 years ago from United States

      Hi Debby,

      You have good introduction of Haiku. loved reading it.


    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Discipline in words,

      Haiku helps the mind choose well

      so mind is fruitful


      Why not free the bonds?

      Look at what springs eternal

      from the pen left to run

      Ok so it's only one extra sylable, but I'm trying! I love the discipline but will definitely experiment with a looser version. Thank you. Voted up and interesting.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      6 years ago from Nepal

      The discussion about the syllable and the the form can go long. The purist think that you have to strictly follow the Japanese pattern and only write about nature. However, many tend to break the traditional notions.

      I have done haiku, I follow the three lines format but cannot always maintain the syllable.

    • Debby Bruck profile imageAUTHOR

      Debby Bruck 

      6 years ago

      Dear Bob ~ I am truly honored by your visit and gleanings here, since I know you have an eye for beauty.

      Dear Breen ~ Such a faithful followers one has never known. You make my heart leap. Love, Debby

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 

      6 years ago

      Very interesting, far from my capability to attempt but an art form I admire for the awesome simplicity.

      As you know my art is complex and detailed..I have a huge respect however, for the uncluttered, and as I age I seek that more and more.

      Your talents keep inspiring, Debbie...well done and beautiful work.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      "Rose by any name

      Smells sweeter by the minute.

      Paint the garden gate!"



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