Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Captain Haiku to the Rescue

Can haiku save the world? Nope. But it can be a rewarding and addicting literary pursuit. By haiku, I don't mean all that pseudo-haiku out there on the Internet, not to mention all those haiku error messages, Haikus for Jews, or Honku. No, there's a serious and complex literary tradition in haiku (both in Japanese and in English), and haiku in English is widely mistaught and misunderstood. If you think haiku is 5-7-5 syllables in English, then you might want to investigate the matter further and learn why this perspective is in error. And if you think that haiku is 5-7-5 syllables in Japanese, again, some research will show that the Japanese don't actually count syllables at all, but sounds (for example, the word "sign" counts as three sounds in a Japanese haiku, yet of course just one syllable). There's so much more to haiku than most people realize. For an overview of some of the basic essentials, see "Becoming a Haiku Poet," an essay of mine online at