, , ,

Hi there poets, today we premiere with our new feature: the haibun Monday. To help us we have brought in a guest blogger who will introduce himself and the haibun. The haibun will come back once a month on our usual bar-time.


Technically a haibun is a piece of prose followed by a haiku or micropoetry, though there is an emphasis on haiku as the form to use in the verse after the prose. Haibun is an ancient art of writing from Japan, and is attributed to Matsuo Basho, who also defined the hokku, and later haiku. It was Basho’s classic The Narrow Road to the Deep North (late 1600s), detailing his third and longest journey, a fifteen hundred mile route from Edo to Ogaki over 156 days, that defined the form of haibun in the style of his travel journals. The journey was also an inward search, and something of a spiritual pilgrimage, and it is not unusual to see a good modern haibun contain an epiphany of some kind.

A general modern haibun found in various online magazines might feature a couple of paragraphs, on average, before finishing with a haiku. And let me quickly say here that this really should be just one haiku and not a few in a row. The whole idea of the haiku is to get the absolute essence of the text, but not to repeat this text again in any form, such as using the same words to reflect on your piece in your haiku. Here’s some guidelines in a nutshell:

  • Keep your prose ‘tight.’ 2 paragraphs is fine, don’t let it drag on.
  • The prose can be a narrative but is not a whole story. A ‘scene’ is enough.
  • There IS a relationship between prose and haiku, but the haiku does not merely repeat the prose.
  • There can be a moment of discovery in a haibun.
  • Please only use 1 haiku after the prose – a second or third is often distracting.
  • No counting the syllables in your haiku!
  • Please have your haibun related to nature in some way. This can include a recent hike, or a view from a train window, but explore a general or specific connection to nature.
  • Dverse has explored haibun before, and Bjorn kindly pointed me to this haibun following by Kazensakura, an absolute delight in form, theme and style. Click here for the link. Click also here and here to read two particularly beautiful, well stunning haibun from Thotpurge.

    I have also linked one of my own recent efforts here.

    Here’s an excerpt from Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North.

    Matsuo Bashō by Hokusai

    Matsuo Bashō by Hokusai

    Station 26 – Ryushakuji (excerpt)

    After arranging to stay with the priests at the foot of the mountain, I climbed to the temple situated near the summit. The whole mountain was made of massive rocks thrown together and covered with age-old pines and oaks. The stony ground itself bore the color of eternity, paved with velvety moss. The doors of the shrines built on the rocks were firmly barred and there was no sound to be heard. As I moved on all fours from rock to rock, bowing reverently at each shrine, I felt the purifying power of this holy environment pervading my whole being.

    utter silence of a temple-
    a cicada’s voice alone
    penetrates the rocks

    Here are some further links:


    I hope you will take some time to experiment with this form & then share with us what you have come up with. Be sure to follow the haibun format, as shown in each of the examples.

    *PS, I briefly mentioned writing above, and am offering two ebooks for free here should anyone need a read or two! Click on the titles – ‘Put Your Lips Together’ and ‘Winner Takes Nothing’ – type in XH77H to receive this second ebook.

    What to do after you have written:

    • Post your haibun to your blog
    • Add a link to your poem via the ‘Mr Linky’ below
    • Read and comment on other people’s work to let them know it’s being read
    • Share via your favorite social media platforms
    • Above all- enjoy it!

    Also remember, the link is open for a whole week. There is plenty of time to comment and interact.