Week Twenty-Two: The Haibun

Introduction

The Haibun features a fascinating paring of prose poetry and haiku. It was invented and popularized by 17th century Japanese master poet Matsuo Bashō. The prose and haiku of the haibun are often in communication with each other in direct or subtle ways.

Haibun Example

LAKE SADDLEBAG by marie a. mennuto-rovello

I walk the north end of the lake this time every summer. Listen to the murky green waters slap up against the weather beaten dock. In the distance, the sound of children skinny dipping.

from a navy sky
sound of cicadas calling
full moon on the rise

Requirements of the Form

Structure

– Titled, unlike traditional haiku

– Begins with a small number of short paragraphs (typically one to three) written in prose poetry style

– Ends with a traditional haiku that reflects or is in some relationship with the introductory prose poem

Content

Common elements and themes include:
– Strong sense of place through natural imagery and sensory detail
– Travel or sense of journey
– Autobiographical elements
– Economy of language
– Sense of presence and immediacy typically found in haiku
– Haiku follows other rules typically found in form

Syllable Count

– For the haiku, syllables needn’t be counted 5-7-5 as in the English Haiku. Rather, aim for a short first line, followed by a longer line, ending with another short line. This approach more closely reflects the spirit of the traditional Japanese form.

An Original Haibun

October 28, 2019 [a haibun]

October is ending. The blazing reds of the sugar maple have begun to yellow. I stand at the front window, still in my bathrobe though noon approaches, still fighting a cold with rest and medication. A small grey cat brushes against my leg and then the curtain. Beside her, a fat tabby dozes on a quilt on a rocking chair. Beside the rocking chair, a wastebasket full of crumpled tissues waits to be emptied.

I refill my coffee mug, warming my hands with it as I return to the window. The leaves on the lawn are beginning to brown, reminding me of the promise to rake. Last year we let them lay and they choked the irises. At the feeder, only the occasional finch returns. The water in the birdbath is not yet frozen.

October ends
orange leaves and white snowflakes 
fall together

Links to Online Resources

Haibun – Wikipedia
Haibun Poems – Writer’s Digest
Matsuo Bashō – Wikipedia
A Closer Look at Writing Haibun – Poets.org
Haiku – Wikipedia

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~ Creative works are owned by the author and subject to copyright laws ~

Write your own and share in the comments!

One thought on “Week Twenty-Two: The Haibun

  1. Pingback: The Haibun – Adam of the Universe

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