What is a Haiku

Discussion in 'Writer's Block' started by Sole Sovereign, Nov 4, 2004.

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  1. Sole Sovereign

    Sole Sovereign Hungry But Never Starving

    Jan 4, 2001
    I think there is some confusion as to what a Haiku really is especially after reading UFO’s Haiku interviews. So I’d like to shed some light on the subject. I am in no way a professional poet nor do I pretend to be. However, I am an aficionado on Japanese culture and almost all original forms of their expressions. Here goes nothing or something you decide.

    It is a common misconception that Haiku’s have to equate 17 syllables in the format of 5 – 7 – 5. This is completely untrue and marks the beginning of the complicated journey of trying to convert a non Latin based literary art form into a Latin based form of expression. In fact a Traditional and or Modern Japanese Haiku would consist of 17 onji. An onji would be best described as Japanese syllables or units of duration and not phonetics. In fact it is estimated that in 90+% of the cases 12 English syllables equate to 17 onji. That is where most of the confusion has set in. Since learning of this and there being no way to accurately translate the art form into a Latin based one, I chose to learn Japanese and express myself in their language to remain as true to the art as possible. However, for most applications in today’s English literary world, people will continue to use the 17 syllable counting and not the 12. This is perfectly acceptable, but I feel if we are going to do that, then we need to follow the other rules for Haiku as well.

    There are two forms of Haiku that exist in Japan, Traditional and Modern. Traditional Haiku’s collectively consist of four firm rules. The first being that it will consists of 17 onji. The second rule states that it needs to contain some reference to Nature. The third rule notes that the Haiku should refer to a particular event and not be a generalization. The fourth and final guideline marks the Haiku as happening now and not in the past. As in most societies, though things and times have been known to change. Though it doesn’t happen as quickly in Japan as it does elsewhere, it happens regardless. Thus we have the art form of Modern Haiku. The history of the modern haiku dates from Masaoka Shiki's reform, begun in 1892, which established haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki's reform did not change two traditional elements of haiku: the division of 17 onji into three groups of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme.
    Kawahigashi Hekigoto carried Shiki's reform further with three proposals:

    1. Haiku would be truer to reality if there were no center of interest in it.
    2. The importance of the poet's first impression, just as it was, of subjects taken
    from daily life, and of local color to create freshness.
    3. The Haiku should be broken into two. There should be a fragment and a phrase, the fragment usually being the first or the third line.

    All this being noted UFO’s Haiku interview would be damn near impossible if you wish to remain true to the art form, unless you could make a metaphor between some nature scene happening right now and your answer to his question. I hope this sheds some light on the greatly confusing Haiku.
  2. UFO the Phoenix


    Aug 10, 1999
    wooooord up

    that clears alot of things up for us for real man thanks

    3. The Haiku should be broken into two. There should be a fragment and a phrase, the fragment usually being the first or the third line.

    ^ was that what you was doing in your interview questions?...as if things weren't hard enough...lol....aight man I'll step it up

    Broke down with more detail then the dictionary:

    n : an epigrammatic Japanese verse form of three short lines

    A Japanese lyric verse form having three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables, traditionally invoking an aspect of nature or the seasons.

    A poem written in this form.

    Good looking out

    this might be moved to the disscussion board but its all love

  3. Sykda

    Sykda New Member

    Jun 25, 2004
    Thanks... I never knew that shit.. But Im still going to consider haikus 17 syllables.. If they are supposed to be 12 syllables and 17 onjiis.. than how many syllables are supposed to b eper sline...? 3-6-3??
  4. ChyllTyrant

    ChyllTyrant AmIEternalOrAnEternalist?

    Oct 18, 2003
    also... i'd like to add some history on the haiku and it's applications...

    haiku was actually the first stanza of a renga... a renga being the party thrown by poets in japan where everyone had to dress in costume of english "bobbies" and they all had orgies at the end. :)

    no really, it was the first stanza of the renga, a party-poem where everyone got one stanza.
    actually, i think we should have those here...

    usually haikus started poppin up when mothafuckas came to they renga-parties with pre-written first stanzas, tryin to impress everyone, and then the renga leader would be like "nah son, yo shit is wack". then the poet would run home in his bobbie uniform, usually crying hysterically, and would try to prove the meany renga leader wrong by getting his stanza published.

    that's when they started getting called haiku, because their "IQ" was so low that everyone thought they were "high" on marijuana or other narcotic substances like pcp, angel dust, and nutmeg. hence, high-Q, or "haiku" if you want to be fancy with it.

    also, a haiku is supposed to always capture an image.
    usually this was the climactic scene from the previous renga-parties orgie, like one time when i took off this guy matsuo basho's bobbie hat and stuck a bayonette up his pooper-hole. he hopped like a friggin frog, thus after that party he came up with the most famous haiku of all time, known as "frog leaps"...

    old pond...
    a frog leaps in
    water's sound

    of course what he meant to say (which was lost in translation over the centuries) was...

    old ponderosa
    a frog leaps in the gravy
    water's sound, pee-pee

    i hope i was helpful.

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