It’s mind boggling how much there really is to learn about haiku. The majority of haiku practitioners agree at this point that the 5/7/5 syllable count doesn’t translate into English. Take that away and you could get haiku like this from Arizona Zipper:
or this from Marlene Mountain:
Many people come to haiku from a certain kind of esthetic that includes Eastern spiritual practices or an appreciation for nature. Nature’s role in the art has long been a focal point. But even this has come into question with modern haiku poets. Loosen the stipulation that haiku revolves around nature images and you get haiku like this from Nicholas Virgilio:
my dead brother…
hearing his laugh
in my laughter
What do they all have in common? Is there an essence left?
In my mind, what it boils down to is minimalism and a revelation about the moment. I think Basho, Buson and Issa would approve. It’s important to remember that the reason we talk about their work as being still viable today is that they also walked the line between tradition and breaking tradition.
Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
–Issa trans. Robert Hass
There are so many “rules” for haiku: length, person, tense, images (kind of images and how they interact), number of images, the functions of the lines, the function of the poem, the payoff of the poem, tone, subject matter, punctuation, types of phrasing, context…and that is just off the top of my head.
It’s a far cry from just sticking a frog in a pond in three lines. Does any other poetic form have as many requirements? It’s a bit like playing harmonica. Anyone can grab one in the right key and think they can play it. But to get to the instrument’s real potential…to play the notes that don’t seem to physically be on there…that is a different story altogether! Isn’t it?