A Brief Haiku Glossary (updated)



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A Brief Haiku Glossary (updated)

“When you compose haiku, observation is necessary,
but your own imagination is the most important
element. If you imagine the close relationship between the
natural world and human beings, your haiku will teach your
heart to grow in love.”

-Itsuki Natsui, 2015 (Haiku Guide Book 3)

7-accented-syllable Haiku: An English-speaking haiku variant that distributes seven accented syllables across three lines, usually following a pattern of (2-3-2) accented syllables per line.

12-15-syllable Haiku: A shorter variant of the 17-syllable English-speaking haiku which still distributes twelve to fifteen syllables across three lines in the format best-suited to content and design. The variant exists to mitigate the perceived wordiness of the 17-syllable Haiku variant.

17-syllable Haiku: The most popularized English-speaking variant of the haiku. This form of the poem distributes seventeen syllables across three lines, with the recurring pattern being (5-7-5) syllables per line.

Free Verse Haiku: A variant of the English-speaking haiku designed for situations which require more conciseness and less rigidity.

Ginko: a haiku-walk, or “foraging for haiku.”

Haijin: A haiku poet.

Haiku: A form of poetry originating from Japan. It typically comes in four variants in English: 17-syllable, 7-accented syllable, 12-15 syllable, and free verse. The popular conception (though not absolute) is a poem containing seventeen syllables distributed through three lines. Five syllables go on the first line, seven syllables go on the second, and five syllables go on the third and final line. It contains a kigo word and a kireji.

'kacho fuei': ‘the beauties of nature and the harmony between nature and humanity.’ One of two essential qualities for the haiku, the other quality being ‘kyakkan shasei’ (Haiku Guide Book 5)

Kake-kotoba: Pivot words; “words that suddenly change the meaning, or the expectation of meaning, of a sentence … a kind of grammatical double exposure” (Hass 312).

Kigo: A word in the haiku that establishes weather or atmosphere.

Kireji: A caesura, or pause, felt at the end of the first or second line of the haiku.

'kyakkan shasei': ‘an objective portrayal’ (Haiku Guide Book 5). One of two essential qualities for the haiku, the other being ‘kacho fuei’

Saijiki: an extensive but defined list of kigo, or ‘season words.’

Senryu: A haiku which contains no kigo word and focuses on human nature rather than physical nature.

Shasei: the snapshot moment that the haiku attempts to capture.

Works Cited/Works Referenced

Hass, Robert. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa. New York City, HarperCollins, 1994.

Fry, Stephen. The Ode Less Travelled. New York City, Gotham Books, 2005.

Higginson, William J. “Guidelines for Writing Haiku in English.” 2003.

“The Haiku Path.” Mercy Center Four Seasons Haiku Kai, 2008.

Haiku Guide Book. Cool Matsuyama! (Tourism and International Exchange Division, Industrial Economy Department, Matsuyama City), 2015.


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