Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Syllabic Haiku Bibliography

Good Friends:

I am just starting a project to gather a bibliographic reference list of Haiku in English that follow the traditional syllabics of 5-7-5. I am interested in the following:

First, books of Haiku that are written in 5-7-5, original work, in English. This kind of book would resemble Richard Wright's "Haiku: This Other World". Not every single Haiku in the book has to follow the 5-7-5 syllabics; some of Wright's Haiku drift from that count. But the Haiku in the book should be weighted towards that traditional count.

Second, translations of Haiku into English that adhere to the 5-7-5 count; that is to say that when translating the translator uses the 5-7-5 count in the English translation.

Third, books by a single poet that include Haiku, along with other forms and types of poems, with the Haiku in the traditional 5-7-5 format. Examples would be Hayden Carruth's "Collected Shorter Poems 1946 - 1991", Mary Jo Salter's "Open Shutters", and Yeshaya Rotbard's "The Calligraphy of Clouds".

Fourth, anthologies of poetry that include Haiku in the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic form. An example would be the Fourth and Fifth Editions of the Norton Anthology of Poetry which includes some of Richard Wright's syllabic Haiku.

Fifth, magazines that were or are published that use the 5-7-5 syllabic form as a criteria for selection.

Occasional publications, such as chapbooks, or saddle-stapled endeavors, or other self-published efforts, that follow the 5-7-5 syllabics.

I am not interested in:

Single Haiku that follow the syllabic form but appear in an anthology of Haiku, or poetry in general, dominated by free verse Haiku.

Magazines that may have one, or a few, Haiku that happen to be in 5-7-5, but are otherwise dominated by free verse Haiku. An example would be "Modern Haiku".

If you know of such publications I would appreciated being contacted. You can contact me at:

Please put "Haiku Information" or "Haiku Bibliography" in the subject heading so that I can spot it when it arrives. I have a lot of filters on my email so putting this in the subject will tag it for me.

Thanks in advance for your help with this project.

Best wishes,



Dan Gurney said...

This would be a great resource to have! Thank you for your effort to compile it.

Jim714 said...

You are welcome, Dan. I'm not sure why this has happened, but those who compose haiku using a free verse approach have organized themselves into associations. In contrast, those who compose haiku using syllabics have not done so. It seems to me there is some insight buried here, but it remains opaque to me. The one exception might be the Yukki Teikkei Haiku group near Palo Alto; but there advocacy of syllabics is muted. They are more accepting of syllabic haiku, more open to publishing it, and less minimalist in their esthetic, but they do not push syllabics in the way that the free verse haiku associations push a free verse approach.


Dan Gurney said...

It IS interesting to wonder why people pushing non-syllabic Haiku would organize while those writing syllabic Haiku would not. Perhaps it is because the non-syllabic crowd felt like rebels in a righteous cause and needed to associate with one another to "oppose" the established order?

The dominance of the once-dominant view that Haiku had to have 17 syllables is reflected by this story:

I remember that my first formal exposure to Buddhism occurred in 1974 in the converted garage of Los Altos resident, Les Kaye. The zendo he built in his garage was called Haiku Zendo. The original teacher was Shunryu Suzuki who was replaced by the time I got there by Kobun Chino Otogawa.

The zendo was small; it had room to seat, you guessed it, 17 students, hence its name, Haiku Zendo.

Jim714 said...

Dan, I think you hit upon an important aspect when you mentioned 'righteous cause'. I plan to post about this in the future, but briefly, modern free verse (as opposed to the older free verse found, for example, in the Psalms) has a strong ideological element. I trace this back to Ezra Pound and his influence on the birth of free verse. Pound saw everything in terms of ideology and regarded free verse as a cause; not just an option but a movement into the future. I think that the free verse haiku associations have absorbed a similar attitude; they are not neutral observers, they really believe, at some level, that it is wrong to write syllabic haiku.