Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Lynne Rees, Editor
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Hello, and a warm
welcome to the haibun section of Simply Haiku. I have no ‘rules’ as to what
makes a good haibun with regard to subject matter, length, or even as to the
style of the prose, which can, and does, take on a variety of styles, e.g. the
narrative voice, lyricism, a compressed syntax, or stream of consciousness. What
matters to me in haibun matters to me for all good writing, regardless of the
genre. As a reader I want to be made to feel and think. I want to be stimulated
by the unfamiliar, or have my experience of the familiar freshened in some way.
As a writer, I want to see that all the hard work of crafting and editing has
already been done. In addition, absolute factual truth isn’t important to me.
Just because something happened doesn’t necessarily make it worth turning into
literature. It’s the emotional truth, something that feels real, that matters
For me, the power of
haibun lies in the juxtaposition of prose and poetry, something no other
contemporary literary form attempts. In a recent interview the acclaimed English
haijin, David Cobb, said that the haiku in a haibun need to be “good in
themselves and also perform a role within the haibun.” He goes on, “I do believe
that the haiku should retain a link and shift relationship to the prose, which
should also have the capacity to stand alone too. But the essential thing,
surely, is that neither prose nor poetry should upstage each
And that is what I work
towards, often with difficulty, in my own haibun, and what I look for in the
haibun I read. A sense that the different parts of the haibun are both
inseparable and inform each other, and autonomous. Is this a contradiction?
Probably. But the most stimulating things in life tend to be contradictory.
The following questions
might help you in assessing your work with a view to submitting it to Simply
Haiku, but they are in no way intended to be prescriptive, or even proscriptive.
- Does the haibun open
- Does the chosen tense
serve the subject matter?
- Is there an effective
transition between prose and haiku/haiku and prose?
- What is the function
of the haiku?
- Have you made
conscious decisions as to their placing?
- Is any description
more than just decoration? Is it significant and contributing to what the
haibun is doing as a whole?
- Does your haibun
carry meaning for a reader?
I very much look
forward to reading and being inspired by your work.
Please read the Submissions page for precise guidelines and send no more than three haibun
Copyright 2008: Simply Haiku