Poetry Form - The Haibun

The haibun is prose (or a prose poem) interleaved with one or more haiku:

Make each word count in the prose text, as in a prose poem.

Compact micro-haibun limit the prose text, such as to 20-to-180 words. Most commonly only one haiku is included, placed after the prose, and serving as a climax or epiphany to what came before.

Many haibun include more than one haiku and longer text than the above range, as long as the resulting work is strong enough.

The juxtaposition of prose and haiku is important.

You could think about getting some "air" (as the skate-boarders and snow-boarders say) between the prose and the haiku.

Robert D. Wilson, editor of the e-magazine Simply Haiku, includes these features for a haibun:

J. Zimmerman Essays on haibun:

Haibun Sample
by J. Zimmerman.

    Missing Man
    Mid-November after I rake the leaves I stand at Central and First, 
    holding the Stars and Bars. All of them died in Nam — my brother Joe, 
    my cousin Freddy, mom's youngest brother Jack. Sometimes I just have 
    to come out on the streets and stand with my flag. There's no parade.
            The smell of burning 
            could be diesel
            could be napalm

First published in Frogpond 34:1 (Winter, 2011)

Haibun Revision Checklist
by J. Zimmerman.

Is this a strong haibun, or:

Other Books on Haiku.

Buy Essential Haiku The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa edited by Robert Hass. The past-poet laureate of the U.S.A has compiled this enthralling collection of his own essays in which he summarizes the lives of three masters and inventors of the haiku tradition in Japan:
  • Matsuo Basho (1644-94), the ascetic and seeker,
  • Yosa Buson (1716-83), the artist, and
  • Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827), the humanist.
He presents their lives, their prose, and 300 of their poems.
Buy Haiku Seasons The Haiku Seasons: Poetry of the Natural World by William J. Higginson.
Buy Haiku World Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac by William J. Higginson, Meagan Calogeras (Editor)
Buy Japanese Haiku The Japanese Haiku, by Kenneth Yasuda.
Buy Haiku Handbook Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku by William J. Higginson, William S. Higginson.
Buy Introduction to Haiku An Introduction to Haiku: An Anthology of Poems and Poets from Basho to Shiki by Harold Gould Henderson (Editor).
First published in 1958, it analyzes the development of Japanese haiku under the leadership of Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki. Includes the Romanized ("Romaji") transliteration of the original Japanese, indicating the sounds of the original poem. Henderson translate mainly into 5-7-5 syllables (heavy compared to the 5-7-5 of the quick Japanese onji) and rhymes the first and last lines (sometimes feels a bit forced).

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