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First Year Round Up – New to Haiku 2021

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I started presenting weekly New to Haiku blog posts. My thanks to everyone who has helped me with this column — from brainstorming ideas, to helping me create content and editing, to reading and commenting. I appreciate your help in making our haiku community a more welcoming place.

The goal of New to Haiku is to welcome newcomers into the fold by presenting basic haiku concepts and sharing haiku advice. If you look at the tags for these posts, which usually appear at the bottom of the page, most are tagged as either Haiku Basics or Advice for Beginners.

These are our Haiku Basics posts for 2021. What topics would you like to see explored in 2022?

More than 25 poets generously shared their Advice for Beginners with New to Haiku this year (thank you!). These are definitely worth a second read!

And then, there are those posts that don’t fit neatly into a category yet. In 2022, I’d love to see more book reviews, articles aimed at teens, interviews with haiga artists, editors, and leaders in the field, along with other fun ways to experience haiku.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this year of New to Haiku as much as I have. Thank you for reading!

Unfortunately, I’m going to be cutting back to two posts monthly from now on, in order to get back to writing my own poetry. But that still leaves every other week open for new content! What would you like to see here? Do you want to contribute content? Do you have some great advice for beginners? Do you know of a fun way to share haiku with newbies? Let me know in the comments!

Julie Bloss Kelsey

We’d love to hear from you in the comments. The Haiku Foundation reminds you that participation in our offerings assumes respectful and appropriate behavior from all parties. Please see our Code of Conduct policy for more information.


Julie Bloss Kelsey is the current Secretary of The Haiku Foundation. She started writing haiku in 2009, after discovering science fiction haiku (scifaiku). She lives in Maryland with her husband and kids. Julie's first print poetry collection, Grasping the Fading Light: A Journey Through PTSD, won the 2021 Women’s International Haiku Contest from Sable Books. Her ebook of poetry, The Call of Wildflowers, is available for free online through Moth Orchid Press (formerly Title IX Press). Her most recent collection, After Curfew, is available from Cuttlefish Books. Connect with her on Instagram @julieblosskelsey.

This Post Has 20 Comments

  1. Thanks for all your efforts on these great resources Julie – and all the best for your writing.

    If I were to suggest a discussion point for the future it would be connecting experimental haiku with traditional approaches. As more experimental forms of writing proliferate, when does a modern haiku cease to be a haiku and become something else? Where is the connection between ‘traditional haiku’ and new forms?

    1. An interesting and worthy discussion.

      We know “haiku” actually started in the 1890s. We might know that haiku didn’t start to really take off until just before Japan entered World War Two.

      Haiku is more of a genre than a ‘form’ and adapts itself remarkably well and in an agile manner.

      Remember when Twitter was only 140 characters? 🙂
      A lot of people couldn’t get a grasp on the “limitation” and would send off multiple ‘tweets’ to cover even a simple statement.

      Well haiku says so much in so few words that you could actually two or nearly THREE haiku into a single tweet of 140 characters.

      Why haiku is different and Basho never wrote them in English:

      Writers in the West, and elsewhere (Australia, New Zealand, India, Africa etc…) tend to be more conservative than the Japanese haiku writers. Just looking at Fay Aoyagi’s blog that has Japanese haiku then translated into English, tells us we are being overly cautious.

      An interesting point, after so many experiments with haiku have been done since the 1980s (see The Haiku Handbook edited by Bill Higginson and Penny Harter), that pretty much all experimentation by humans has been done.

      Of course there are now Artificial Intelligence and human partnerships, but they still look a bit conventional aka ‘traditional’ or ‘classic’ approach.

      So what is a modern haiku? If haiku started in the mid-to-late 1890s by Masaoka Shiki (正岡 子規, October 14, 1867 – September 19, 1902) and haiku really picked up just before Japan entered WWII in September 1940?

      ‘Mainstream’ poetry’s modern era is sometimes or often considered from the 1960s onwards. Is the modern period still considered from the 1960s, when that seems a dim and distant past, and we have entered the third decade of the 21st Century?

      The first non-Japanese haiku society, I believe, is the Haiku Society of America, formed at the end of the 1960s.

      I wonder if we might consider ‘modern’ as late 20th century instead? Either from the examples in The Haiku Handbook, or possibly even from the 1990s, which gives us around 30 years of haiku right up to today?

      Just a thought.

      The Haiku Handbook is brilliant! 🙂 You get the history of ‘haikai literature’ from several hundred years ago all the way up to the mid-to-late 1980s:

      warm regards,

    2. Hi John, Thanks for your comment. I don’t have the answer to your question, but I’m not sure that anyone does! A roundtable discussion on that topic would be great – maybe for an HSA or HNA talk. For New to Haiku, a dabble into experimental forms might be fun, but I wouldn’t want to overwhelm a new reader.

  2. Hi Julie, as the THF Digital Librarian, i would be glad to write an article on the Digital Library as a resource for those new to haiku if you think that would be useful.

    1. I am so happy that you did this! Can’t wait for your interview to come out tomorrow on New to Haiku! Thanks again for helping our readers. 🙂

  3. I’ll second Valentina’s suggestion and go one further — I’d love a post on two-line haiku, which I feel have been a bit neglected. I could only find one essay on it (in Frogpond 38.3), which I currently can’t get my hands on.

    Thanks for all the work you’ve put in this year!

      1. Thanks, Alan, for always providing such helpful information for New to Haiku. I really appreciate it.

    1. Hi Cain, I love that Alan gave you some resources to look into. I also like 2 line haiku, but you are right, you don’t see them very often and they do seem neglected.

  4. I would like to see an article on the monoku. It could cover –
    What is a monoku?
    How does a person write a good monoku?

    1. Valentina,

      That’s a great idea!

      I gave a presentation at the Japan Writers Conference 2021 (October 16-17, 2021, Tokai University, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa) called “The Pull of the Lonely Single Line of Haiku” which will have aspects of that shown at the sold out monoku class for next year.

      In the meantime my “Travelling the single line of haiku” article contains many varied and wonderful approaches to ‘monoku’ plus I give mini-commentaries, and an insight into this intriguing approach with haiku in English.:

      warm regards,

      Alan Summers
      founder, Call of the Page

  5. Thank you Julie for the segment and your work past, present and future. So pleased that going forward you are factoring in some time for your own writing which is very important. I have found many ideas and much valuable inspiration for use with my small haiku group in Australia. Hard to offer any new ideas as these seem to naturally come from each writer’s interview.
    All the best for the festive season, have a break and look forward to the reduced segment in 2022.

    1. Thank you, Carol. I’m always glad to know that people are finding the posts useful. 🙂

  6. Julie,
    A standing “O” for this effort. The anticipation of reading a new one every week is tempered by the disappointment that the series will be sliced in half. But I get it. I realize what a time commitment it is. I’m wondering if it would be possible for you to sign up a co-editor to keep the weekly spicket open. Just sayin…

    As for ideas, I think you’re pretty much doing this already, but a set group of questions for each poet would be helpful, with of course room to roam. Things like: how long you’ve been writing; do you have a writing protocol (every day, when the spirit moves you, etc) ; what books or mentors influenced you; what process do you follow, if any, for creating poems; what overall advice to you have for newbies; what was the best advice you received as a newbie; which are the favorite poems you have written, and why; how do you revise; if you were to start your climb up the learning curve all over again, how would you do it, knowing what you now know; are there any rules or chalklines for writing haiku; and finally, in your opinion, what makes a poem a haiku? These just off the top of my head, and I’m sure others can improve on the set pattern of questions for each poet.

    Again , great work Julie! Those older, archived interviews are on my “to do” list


    1. Hi Sam, Thanks for the tips. I like the idea of asking each poet what they think makes a poem a haiku. That ties in with John’s suggestion above and I’d bet we’d see a lot of different answers to that question. Thanks for reading!

  7. Thank you Julie and to all who contributed to the columns and those behind the scenes that make this possible. I have looked forward to your ‘New to Haiku’ column every week and always discover little gems in the Haiku Basics; Advice to Beginners; and what you call the uncategorised articles. These little gems have given me the confidence to come out of my shell and start interacting . . . Thank you again. Sue.

  8. Many thanks Julie and to all who contributed for the interesting, educational and inspiring articles!

    1. Thanks to you, too, Dan, for all of your work on Book of the Week and Librarian’s Cache. Many hands make light work!

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