Miss Pelican's Perch

Looking at my World from a Different Place

Why I like Japanese-style Poetry


I am not an expert on Japanese poetry.  I don’t read or speak the language, and I have not studied the history of the genre.  I could not tell you the difference between a hokku, a haikai, a renga, or a waka.   I do know a bit about haiku and haibun because I  have tried my hand at writing these two forms in English.   I enjoy reading translations of the most famous haiku writers: Basho, Issa, and Buson.

Why do I like these forms of poetry?   It is simply that I like the clean brevity of these poems.   Only a master of the written word can convey an entire scene in just 17 syllables or a paragraph of prose poetry.    Haibun in general, and haiku in particular,  capture moments of clarity, mundane actions of ordinary people, and subtle movements of animals and plants in their natural settings.  They evoke, sometimes in just single words, the physical experience of entire seasons.  These forms are like a Polaroid snapshots of time and space.

Such poetry is often imbued with subtle, engaging humor or deep emotion.   For example, these two haiku by Basho:

Morning Glories-
Even from unskilled brushes
They look elegant


The first day of the year:
thoughts come – and there is loneliness;
the autumn dusk is here.

Haiku and haibun are elegant, timeless, and completely human.

Here are some links if you care to learn a little more about these forms

A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry
The Japanese section of Shadow Poetry
About Haibun
About Haiku

4 thoughts on “Why I like Japanese-style Poetry

  1. Besides a limerick, the haiku is the only poem I can sort of write. Great post

  2. I recently read a book about Zen Culture and I found the information on poetry really interesting. When I was studying for a Creative Writing course, we had to write haiku. I went through a phase of writing little notes for things at work in the haiku format to amuse myself, hehe.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    • I find writing poetry in general to be beneficial to my overall writing. Writing them helps me focus on an idea and carefully choose words. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. The ability to convey so much in so few words is a skill and an art form, and i admire it tremendously.

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