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Hi and welcome to dVerse, today I will introduce you to a form of poetry called the haibun. It goes back to the 17th century Matsuo Basho. For those accustomed to haiku, he is also the inventor of haiku in it’s modern form. The form combines prose with a haiku poem. I will not dwell here on how to write haiku, but now it’s sufficient to say, that it’s not about counting syllables at all. If you prefer other short poetry such as tanka, american sentences, or maybe be a pioneer and use the tilus.

The prose can be in any form, it can be an autobiography, an excerpt from a diary, a recipe, a prose poem, a short story or a travel log. The importance is how the haiku and the prose interact to form a unity.

Let’s first look at Basho and an excerpt from his “Narrow road to the interior”

The months and days are the travellers of eternity. The years that come and go are also voyagers. Those who float away their lives on ships or who grow old leading horses are forever journeying, and their homes are wherever their travels take them. Many of the men of old died on the road, and I too for years past have been stirred by the sight of a solitary cloud drifting with the wind to ceaseless thoughts of roaming.
Last year I spent wandering along the seacoast. In autumn I returned to my cottage on the river and swept away the cobwebs. Gradually the year drew to its close. When spring came and there was mist in the air, I thought of crossing the Barrier of Shirakawa into Oku. I seemed to be possessed by the spirits of wanderlust, and they all but deprived me of my senses. The guardian spirits of the road beckoned, and I could not settle down to work.
I patched my torn trousers and changed the cord on my bamboo hat. To strengthen my legs for the journey I had moxa burned on my shins. By then I could think of nothing but the moon at Matsushima. When I sold my cottage and moved to Sampū’s villa, to stay until I started on my journey, I hung this poem on a post in my hut:

Even a thatched hut
May change with a new owner
Into a doll’s house.

Certainly the text is poetic, but without the haiku, it’s a piece of prose. The haiku is certainly a piece of poetry by itself, but it gets additional depth through the prose. Modern haibun have of course evolved, just like the haiku. Subjects have deepened, and widened, but still some elements that remain the same.
The technique of achieve the effect of the haiku could be seemingly disconnected, a juxtaposition or even condensing the feeling of the prose.
Today I would like you to try to experiment with the technique. If you’re not friend with haiku, use another short form, if you like your prose to be very poetic – please do so. If you want to interleave short pieces of prose with micropoetry – do so. But remember that the short poems and the prose should have that specific disconnected connection that create a poetic effect.
There are many on-line examples of haibun, and there are many writers of haibun in the blogging world. Just google haibun for good examples.

Here is how it works:

  • Write a haibun and post it to your webpage.
  • Enter a link directly to your poem and your name by clicking Mr Linky below
  • There you will find links to other poets, and more will join
  • Read and comment on other poet’s work, we all go here to have our poems read
  • Promote your site and poetry you like on social media of your choice

And remember to have a lot of fun.