Dear Haiku Maven, A haiku poet I admire keeps telling me my haiku is old-fashioned because I write 5-7-5 three line haiku and I always use a season word. That poet is starting to get on my nerves. Is it okay to keep writing my kind of haiku? Or do I need to change even though it isn’t who I am?
Signed, Don’t Make Me Over
Dear Don’t, Your sign-off indicates you are familiar with the pop music world of the late 1960’s. So I will speak to you in your language. You and the haiku poet you admire, “travel to the beat of a different drum.” No one told the organizers of the well-known Yuki Teikei Society’s annual Tokutomi contest that they were being old-fashioned when they launched their long-running 5-7-5 haiku contest, which also mandates a specific season word. But my guess is that you are writing to me because a part of you thinks the haiku-poet-you-admire may have a point. If you are stuck in the 5-7-5 haiku universe because it is a cozy place and one you know well, challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone every so often. Try a one line haiku without a season word. Or limit yourself to a 10 syllable haiku. And you can always ask for feedback from the haiku-poet-you-admire. The outcome may surprise you.
The Haiku Maven posts each Friday to The Haiku Foundation blog. Haiku Maven offers advice about awkward situations involving haiku poets. Please use our Contact page to send a question. Haiku Maven will select a pseudonym for you based on your question. Click this link to see the Haiku Maven archive. Feel free to leave comments.