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by Louise Robertson

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Well, we’re not doing the haiku, per se, but the American haiku. The traditional haiku (with its special syllable count, reference to nature, and other traditional Japanese elements and context) is well and good, but the American haiku is a form onto itself.

The one big rule — and many break even that: The American haiku must be 17 syllables
The lesser rule: Set up the lines in a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.

Example of haiku are all over the internet. Look here’s a set of haiku devoted to a freshly neutered dog. Look here’s a whole set of erotic haiku that’s not all that erotic and uses none of the rules I listed above, and yet, they still seem like haiku, aye?

Haiku head-to-head matches are usually featured at Poetry Slam, Inc.’s (PSi) national events (National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Women of the World Poetry Slam). Logic, a poet based in East Lansing, MI and PSi haiku champ, says he used the form to help his craft. Jerri Hardesty, an Alabama poet and another PSi haiku champ, writes haikus that are as full of content as many three minute poems — sometimes more full than many three minute poems.

Here in the home town of Writers’ Block Poetry (Columbus, OH), the First Draft Open mic (a monthly Writers’ Block event that features only never-performed work) has made the “Haiku Nuku night” into an annual event and celebration. So if your question is: when would I need to write a bunch of haikus? The answer is: all the time!

How about some more haikus? Whose haikus are better to feature than the Beat poet who was instrumental in popularized the American haiku: Jack Kerouac. (And between you and me the brevity and concision of language look really good on him.)

[ Audio of Jack Kerouac reading haiku with jazz background added ]

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