At Famous Reporter, we receive
many submissions that almost make it into our haiku pages, but miss out on acceptance
because of one or two details that don't fit our criteria.
So, what are we looking for in a
Although the traditional
format of 5/7/5 is welcome, the syllable count alone doesn't make it qualify. In the 5/7/5
style the syllables should preferably be short ones, as long vowel sounds can make the
poem exceed an acceptable length. (Japanese syllables are much shorter than ours). Never
pad the poem to make it fit the count - economy of words is important. Haiku in English
can be as short as ten or twelve syllables - sometimes even shorter - provided they meet
the other requirements of this genre. Although most haiku are written in three lines, the
second being longer than the first and third, variations of line arrangements are used
today. Some haiku are written in one line, some in two.
The haiku should present
one or two, contrasting, clear images that recreate a keenly-perceived moment of
experience, using a minimum of words. It should not tell the reader how to feel, or how
the poet feels: the images that provoked the emotion will arouse similar responses in the
reader. The action should be in the present tense, and the place should be specific. Avoid
abstract nouns and philosophical comment. A good haiku will resonate in the reader's mind,
suggesting deeper meanings.
Traditionally the haiku
is about nature, linked to human nature, and contains a seasonal element (often implied).
While we prefer such haiku at Famous Reporter we are also interested in those that deal
lightly with human nature (senryu). We do not use titles, and prefer haiku without simile,
metaphor or personification. Those that reflect an Australian experience are more likely
to be accepted, as are those that offer a fresh way of seeing. (We acknowledge that this
describes only one framework for writing haiku and we are also delighted with haiku that
succeed in communicating the haiku experience, when only some, or none, of the above
Suggested texts for those wanting
to learn more about writing haiku:
- A Haiku Handbook; William
J. Higginson and Penny Harter, Kodansha International, 1989
- Haiku in English; Harold G.
Henderson, Tuttle, 1967
- Getting Started with Haiku;
John Bird, HaikuOz. http://www.haikuoz.org