The Haiku Conundrum

Over the past couple of years,  a good number of my poetry publications have been haiku. I got another one today. Don’t get me wrong. This post is not complaining about anything. In fact, I’m very grateful to all the publishers of my haiku. I have one coming out in Bottle Rockets I think next month. In fact, this has opened up a whole new area for my poetry. Haiku has allowed me to keep producing in a period I worried would be the death knell of my writing.

But I’ve always felt odd about haiku. Yes, it is part of my cultural heritage. Yes, it is poetry. And yes, my old advisor Jim’s question on whether it really was a suitable form for English language poetry is valid too (I’ll get into that another time because I agreed with him, my own English language haiku aside). I felt funny about these little three (and sometimes two) line poems. I spend less time with each one. This gives them the sense that they’re “easy.” But that’s not right, is it? Because the other effect, not counting speed, is compression. I’m having to write in a way that is more compressed than ever. And that’s good. No, that’s great. It’s affected my prose and my “regular” poems. I’m producing “S” draft material that is much tighter. My brain sets off alarms when I let up a bit.

I started working more on haiku over the past couple of years more and more because my life is much busier with two kids in it. A full time job. Other avocations, like aikido and tai chi chuan. Time is tight. William Carlos Williams had prescription pad. My notebook, which needs to be tiny for me to carry everywhere is perfect for haiku. As writers, we are always adapting, always evolving, always needing to find that new outlet that allows us to keep doing what we’re doing. Mine, for the moment, happens to be haiku. What’s yours?

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