Conversation 35: HAIKU – WHO ARE YOU?


For such a short and seemingly simple form debate around what haiku is continues to rock up a storm with impassioned arguments around preference and approach.

THE DAILY HAIKU offers 5/7/5 syllables as a guideline for writing haiku and I would like to stress, as I often do, that this is NEVER a RULE. The 5/7/5 framework can be especially helpful to those new to haiku but despite the choice involved in using this format it is an area frequently challenged and questioned. 5/7/5 stresses the mechanics of haiku rather than the craft but remains a popular option for many experienced haiku writers too.

I thought a fruitful approach would be to dig down through a creative process into what haiku means to you alongside our more formal and informal debates. This is because despite its shifting form and function it clearly does mean something different to everyone.

Haiku Workshop

The following questions framed this quest:

If Haiku were a season what would it be?

If you touched Haiku what would it feel like?

What does Haiku taste like if anything?

Where does Haiku live? Describe the environment?

Does Haiku have a colour?

What are Haiku’s best features?

What isn’t Haiku?

What does Haiku do?

What doesn’t Haiku do?

What does Haiku see?

Who are Haiku’s friends?

Where does Haiku want to go?

What does Haiku say if anything?

If Haiku were an animal what would it be?

If Haiku were a smell what is it?

If Haiku wanted to try something new what would it be?

How does Haiku move (if at all)?

What does Haiku look like?

How does Haiku feel?


I then ask you after playing with the above answers to have a go at defining haiku in one sentence from your point of view.


What emerged from this creative process was that haiku evoked dramatically contrasting and diverse responses that included John Lanyon’s ‘shy seed’ to Kitty Kisrow’s ‘expresso shot poetry’ to Shirley Zanes’ “pedicab taking me on a slower journey through life’s busy streets.”   What is common to all responses to date is the passion haiku conjures up in us all and the ensuing frustrations and joys around writing haiku.

Haiku is personal, perhaps that is why we can get personal at times in our haiku debates. But expressing the personal through creative means embraces the personal without getting personal!

Here is a selection for you to enjoy of the many creative responses to ‘What does Haiku mean to you?’ 2

Thank you to those who completed the creative quest. In reading through I feel, without tussling with the technicalities of this quixotic form, I have a clearer glimpse of haiku and its many coloured coats. I love too, without prompting, that many of the responses are of course in haiku form. I feel that having questions about what it isn’t as much as what it is brings us closer to finding its changing, slippery and glorious essence.


Alan Summers

Haiku evades our capture so if we want to be free we shouldn’t attempt to conquer ‘haiku’ but let it conquer us.


Cindy Ravines Haiku is a camera taking photos of the present

Much needed outlet

Haiku is my therapy

Tapping into NOW


Lynda Flint haiku is a fresh sweet fig, first taste never leaves you


Oz Hardwick

If Haiku were a season what would it be? The point at which autumn tips into winter.

If you touched Haiku what would it feel like? Static electricity.

What does Haiku taste like if anything? A very cold satsuma.

Where does Haiku live? Describe the environment? In a beach hut miles from the sea.

Does Haiku have a colour? Sometimes.

What are Haiku’s best features? Honesty and sharp creases.

What isn’t Haiku? Its reflection.

What does Haiku do? Leave extra coat hangers behind in hotel wardrobes.

What doesn’t Haiku do? Take off its shoes when it comes into the house.

What does Haiku see? Afterimages of objects that don’t move.

Who are Haiku’s friends? Lollipop ladies and the people who do that broom thing in competitive curling.

Where does Haiku want to go? Just over there.

What does Haiku say if anything? I think the D string’s a bit sharp.

If Haiku were an animal what would it be? A cartoon shrew with real claws.

If Haiku were a smell what is it? Tomato plants.

If Haiku wanted to try something new what would it be? Liquorice ice cream.

How does Haiku move (if at all)? In mysterious ways.

What does Haiku look like? A candlelit greenhouse in snow.

How does Haiku feel? Like a finger on the rim of a wine glass.

What does Haiku’s voice sound like? An old trout whistling a Dolly Parton tune.


Catherine Brennan

Haiku is Spring, learning

Strength and confidence, flowing

Energy through words


Stan Phillips

Haiku is freeze framing a visual image in words.


Laura Frances Martin

Haiku is a mini meditation on life in myriad syllables

Haiku is to language as birdsong is to the morning wood

Haiku walks with grace through the thorns of life


Rajeshwari Srinivasan

Season – Rain

Feellike – a Petal

Taste -. a tangy orange

Live – in mountain ranges

Color – white canvas to pour your thoughts

Feature- shortest poetry

Haiku Isn’t about hate

Haiku do – give joy

Haiku sees – the universe as one

Haikus friends – haiku poets

Haiku wants to meet nature

Haiku says – poetry is redeeming

Animal. Eagle

Smell-. Baby’s scent

Haiku will explore itself

Move like the clouds

Haiku looks like the blue sky

Haiku feels warmth of expressions

Haiku for me is like watching a butterfly visiting the blossoms at free wil


Lyntha Nelson

One of the questions was, “Does Haiku have friends?

This us quite silly,but I think we were given permission.

Haiku and Friends

Haiku with a friend

Underling he’ll never be

Get Acrostic out

Hope you all noticed the HUG in my silly Haiku Friend. That was planned for the new word-friends who encourage me.


Deirdre McKernan

Haiku for me is an essence of thoughts and feelings provoking thoughts and feelings.


Cherrie Taylor

Haiku is me

It’s you

all of us …


John Herbert

Eyes like write Haiku

Every day something new

New Haiku for you


Stephen Bayliss

Haiku suit all moods.

Be it poignant reflection

or just some silly fun.


There’s satisfaction,

heart’s-ease, joy and sweet release

in its brief caress.


Su Ryder

If Haiku were a season what would it be? Winter. Sparse but glittery.

If you touched Haiku what would it feel like? Fragile, and dewy.

What does Haiku taste like if anything? Spun sugar.

Where does Haiku live? Under a beautiful tree, which occasionally drops fruit.

Does Haiku have a colour? Blue, pink and black.

What are Haiku’s best features? Precision.

What isn’t Haiku? Arguments

What does Haiku do? It makes you strive for perfection.

What doesn’t Haiku do? Make you obsessive.

What does Haiku see? Everything

Who are Haiku’s friends? We are!

Where does Haiku want to go? Deep inside.

What does Haiku say if anything? Quiet! Stop. Think.

If Haiku were an animal what would it be? Hedgehog.

If Haiku were a smell what is it? Green shoots breaking snow.

If Haiku wanted to try something new what would it be? It wouldn’t.

How does Haiku move (if at all)? In little, delicate steps.

What does Haiku look like? Female

How does Haiku feel? Vulnerable.


Gemma Jayne Paine

It’s making a magical statement in a few words as possible


William Dean Ford

A thought to be aired Set free on a single breath Firefly in the void


Elsje Winnubst

Haiku to me captures in a few lines; a moment of grace. Emotion is distilled by releasing the pressure. The text in its simplest form unfolds what is necessary and pares down the unnecessary. As I go on it is less of a discipline and more of an art.

I am a fledgling in haiku. Every day I learn something.

If haiku was an animal it would be a cat. Walking metaphors they inhabit many worlds. they have a talent for finding their “Spot” and the mental flexibility to rotate to ever more favourable spots. The delicate balance they strike between concealing and revealing is like a haiku. Cats are compasses. Mine momentarily is at North to North East. She is always in the zone.


Wendy Houser Blomseth

Haiku is a Divining Rod that moves you forward toward self-knowledge and appreciation of nature: human nature and mother nature

I continue to quote Amita Paul who, early on, explained haiku to me as :

“Lost within

Those ineffable thoughts

Become Haiku ”

Poet, Amita Paul, Patna, India, 2020


Vijay Prasad

Well ,
The answer is in the question itself, ” what IS haiku”
The “IS” is the answer,
is the haiku …
When the seeking my halts …. then it takes place outside the language
“Is the Is-ness of a moment”


Lakshmi Lyer

all that I can

show not tell …

haiku dialogue

builds a corridor

amongst all of us


Oz Hardwick

Pedants tell Haiku,

“You’re not what you claim to be.”

Haiku says, “Get stuffed.”


Nicole Mautz

Reading and/or writing a haiku is sharing moments of our lives, our experiences and our perceptions.


Keith Evetts


who knew

what’s within you


Sarah Davies

The turn from midwinter to Spring

A delicate, spiked object, sharp yet smooth

Lemon after freshly cleaned teeth

Lives in a glass case, edged with gold, placed in a forest

The white of spaceship interiors

The asymmetry of its face

Washing machine manuals

Makes a man walk with a lopsided gait, 5 7 5

Know how to ride a new bicycle

Other newborn lines, squealing and kicking

The neat children in the class, but also the child running in circles through daisies

Home, but at a tangent

Little, but what it says is cool

A particular, clean bird on an elegant branch, perhaps clockwork

Smells of fresh pressed rose heads

Not itself, but itself

On tip toes, like a tiger

Something impossible for a sketch artist to draw

Happy but also, like bone China

What building would haiku be?

What drink would haiku be?

What would haiku work as?


Haiku Is a turn, spiked lemon, forest spaceship, asymmetry machine, man bicycle, newborn daisies, home but cool, clean clockwork head, itself a tiger, impossible happy, temple, lemonade magician

Haiku has just the right number of lines and syllables, but it won’t tell you what they are.


David DeNavarro

Haiku is a word-art form that endeavors to use words to go beyond words. It is a word-art form that takes few words to express itself, and millions of words to talk about it.

Of course this isn’t all that haiku is, for haiku is everything that it is and nothing that it isn’t. It is far more than what we could ever say about it, yet far less than what we often do say about it. Haiku is.

If you haven’t tried the creative quest into haiku yet please do.  Get up close and personal with haiku and share your thoughts here.

Alan’s Haiku Journey on Japanese Television NHK World

Amazement of the ordinary- life through a haiku lens: Alan Summers TEDX

David DeNavarro website:




23 Comments on “Conversation 35: HAIKU – WHO ARE YOU?”

  1. I have written a few
    haiku on haiku
    and here they are
    (Amanda asked me to…)

    Haiku on haiku

    this haiku
    is but one half – the other half
    is you

    Japanese haiku
    Why write one hundred verses
    When three lines will do

    broken in two
    the parts fit without glue –

    Haiku will not do
    for poems like Hiawatha
    but it is quicker

    Masters of haiku
    insist the art form must not
    be didactic

    In contemplation
    focus your mind on a bar
    a haiku walks in

    haiku perfection
    completely ruined by one
    excess syllable?

    Japanese foresight –
    haiku form is perfectly
    suited to Twitter

    the roots of haiku
    are nourished by humour –
    the devout forget

    farewell old swallow
    we’ll see you again next year
    haiku will follow

    taught by the masters
    you learn to imitate them
    but can you be them?

    a dusty classroom
    the soul of haiku pining
    skylarks sing outside

    M’Lord this haiku
    stands before you convicted
    caught with no kigo

    pray for the haiku
    charged with excess syllables
    a reduced sentence

    to write this haiku
    must wait until I attend
    the call of Nature

    when you boil it down
    the liquid thought of haiku
    can evaporate

    old haiku – grasping
    the handrail of procedure
    to keep a balance

    young haiku – twinkling
    a dragonfly shimmering
    a river chuckling

    Japanese haiku –
    no reason to rhyme. We have
    no reason not to


    the art of haiku
    takes common experience
    to open reflection

    no trick is needed
    magic within all of us
    needs only a focus

    yet some devotees
    worship the form of the art
    instead of the art

    sketch in a setting
    select any nice insect
    invite the reader

    on a leaf
    a ladybird…

    there is seasoning –
    four seasons in one haiku
    would crash the system

    with each new haiku
    dawns a hope of redemption –

    Degree in Haiku
    with Higher Origami?
    You must be barmy!


    gimme a haiku
    with attitude – anything
    but lank platitude

    on painted horses
    carousel of bounding clichés
    our poems riding

    the haiku police
    flag me down – no kigo – they have
    a seasonal word

    trouble with wordclouds
    they are quite woolly really
    nothing substantial

    that fellow Basho
    well worth reading his output –
    haiku are lovely

    five, seven, five – oh
    a syllable missing – oh
    what shall we do – oh!

    why on earth should we
    think Japanese characters
    fit into our words?

    that man Issa
    few short words
    your soul, singing

    haiku –
    tiny Japanese shoe
    binding thoughts

    effort of haiku
    really too much trouble
    a tanka will do

    house of the sixth sense
    where dwells haiku – there is room
    for barefoot poets

    Bashō’s opinion:
    five in a life would be good
    ten you’re a master

    if you write a poem
    it is not haiku but then
    they are what they are

    poisoned by cliché
    choked by sentiment, haiku
    dead on arrival

    this is the rhythm
    haiku keep – after a while
    you may fall asleep

    ti-dum, ti-dum, ti-
    ti-dum, ti-di, dum


    1. Keith you are insatiable, on an insane creative high, haiku-mentalist and haiku-mental, guru, tastemaker, Keith the King of Haiku and the Anserine inventor and maker. It’s biblical! Clickncollect haiku here!

  2. Here’s a few of mine. I was on the lighter side of haiku on this day.

    Fun in many ways
    A true friend with great advice
    Helps me clearly see
    She’s full of surprise
    Takes me up and down the trail
    Points out what I missed
    A lifeline at times
    A friend who likes to bug me
    I love her so much
    If you don’t watch out
    She’ll have you waking up to
    Another haiku
    she’s my muse … my tease
    she messes with my mind, and
    she thinks she’s funny

    1. Love these haiku haiku Connie and as a reply to your last line ‘then she makes me cry’. She is a tease, and she is a she to me too. I love the various personifications. Now I am thinking what sort of she, some days she is that truculent teen, others the old grand dame sniping from the side, then the gentle, shy twenty-something finding her way in the world and of course the screaming baby-girl who just wants what she wants when she wants it! Thank you for sharing these Connie, you are a star. If Keith is the King of Haiku today you are its Queen.

  3. five seasons
    each one its own mood
    time travels

    brushing my skin
    haiku leave
    their long-lasting mark

    the taste of haiku
    after they vanished

    and within
    a haiku

    black and white
    haiku mixing
    all colours

    flows inward
    and out

    out of nothingness
    haiku lies
    in everything

    haiku tell me
    I am alive

    haiku does nothing
    but it floats nearby

    haiku doesn’t see
    it is sight

    haiku has no friends
    but it is
    our friend

    haiku doesn’t want to go
    it is everywhere

    haiku doesn’t talk
    we are translators

    all animals belong to haiku
    haiku loves all animals

    unknown fragrance
    haiku smells
    all the smells

    haiku doesn’t try
    and doesn’t succeed either

    haiku moves like a river flows

    haiku is like the New Moon
    it looks like nothing but it is something

    haiku feel like bliss

    1. This haiku sequence in response to the haiku questions is so philosophical and dare I say so haiku. It comes close to David DeNavarro’s observation that ends my sample within the blog ‘Haiku is’. This is of course where the tantalising nature of haiku resides and both excites and perhaps torments us or at the very least creates a gnawing anxiety. I love these bite-sized gems of haiku observations that are sensory and thoughtful, quiet and expansive. A favourite
      out of nothingness
      haiku lies
      in everything

      1. Always amazed by your analyses Amanda. You make me realise something new about my own writing each time. Thank you.

      1. Thank you Connie. I’m glad you are enjoying my writing. It is the best compliment if it can inspire you. Now I will go and look at your writing !

  4. Questions stolen for contrapuntal poem

    If Haiku were a season what would it be?
    When snow is melting
    If you touched Haiku what would it feel like?
    Becoming slippery wet
    What does Haiku taste like if anything?
    Polluted waters

    Where does Haiku live? Describe the environment?
    Minimlist rooms
    Does Haiku have a colour?
    Painted white as expected
    What are Haiku’s best features?
    Gloss shining brightly

    What isn’t Haiku?
    These rooms are not lost
    What does Haiku do?
    They reverberate with love
    What doesn’t Haiku do?
    It doesn’t give up

    What does Haiku see?
    See what’s going on
    Who are Haiku’s friends?
    Between a couple in love
    Where does Haiku want to go?
    Looking to feel free

    What does Haiku say if anything?
    Singing sweet love songs
    If Haiku were an animal what would it be?
    Boasting of pride in lions
    If Haiku were a smell what is it?
    Spanish Harlem roses

    If Haiku wanted to try something new what would it be?
    Adventures still there
    How does Haiku move (if at all)?
    Waiting in the still of life
    What does Haiku look like?
    Clearly envisaged

    1. When snow is melting is the perfect haiku season it evokes its history and context, but also the in-between nature of haiku, its transience, seasonal shifts, quixotic, brief, cold clear moments… Such a vivid creative response Richard brimming with sensory joy, your Spanish Harlem roses are something I want to experience right now. Bravo.

  5. Here are some of my latest haiku shared in the Daily Haiku group on FB:

    old pavement fissure…
    a wayward seedling finds light
    at the crack of dawn

    green memories…
    gnarled brown branches
    laden with snow

    a wild goat’s red eyes
    stare through the fence I leapt…
    thwarted headbutt

    a crumb of cheddar
    lodged in my gray beard…
    better with age

    a forgotten field
    of tall grasses and ragworts…
    stones six feet apart

    overcast morning…
    the pristine silence flees from
    a flock of robins

    winter’s stealthy winds
    invade through cabin windows…
    night sparrows blow in

    such mighty portals
    to all ages and places…
    each book a journey

    grinding herbs
    for a slow-cooked curry…
    thyme on my hands

    through driving rain
    the sound of a woodwind…
    distant saxophone

    halfway between
    this life and haiku…
    my journey

    gathering in heat
    the Tabasco crab boil…
    cold beer in hand

    making puddles…
    a dog pees in the rain
    against a wall

    way up in a palm
    I see a distant island
    eating dates

    with mushrooms in moonlight…
    a fun guy

    a weather addict’s
    new mixed methodology…
    rum Rainmakers

    native windsong
    a flute’s carved eagles
    soar in “C”

    Jupiter Saturn
    a socially distanced world
    joins together

    that rose granite stone
    kicked home on my walk
    rests under yarrows

    I trip
    over stars on a path
    looking up

    1. What a beautiful sequence. There is something super meditative about reading a haiku sequence. I love it. I pause at each haiku and soak it up. The final haiku is a trip in all ways – so immediate, it encompasses the personal and the eternal, the pure joy of a bright night of stars. February is the month. Thank you for this treat.

    1. How stunning this is Teresa. Yes Haiku is a hawk still as a picture, hovering in a cold clear sky. Utterly perfect. I really think you have found the essence of haiku here. It took me the moments of on my daily walks I spot a buzzard and am transfixed by its power, presence and beauty, often it is waiting on top of a telegraph wire patiently scanning the field for its prey. Waiting to drop in an instance for the kill. Is that what we do with a killer haiku? Once in a while that’s how it feels when it hits the spot, like the centre of a tennis racket, a shared joke, singing in the shower….

  6. Since I had already sent a few haiku here, I wasn’t going to send my answers to the above questions, but I’ve been asked to so here they are.
    answers to Conversation 35: Haiku-Who Are You?

    1) If haiku were a season what would it be? Haiku would be the 5th season
    2) If you touched haiku what would it feel like? She would be like silk, it would slip through my fingers if not held just right
    3) What does haiku taste like? A single drop of honey on the tongue that you let sit and dissolve and feel her nutrients feeding the whole body
    4) Where does haiku live? Haiku has no home. She’s a bit of a wanderer, but always available if and when you need her.
    5) Does haiku have a color? Haiku is like a mood ring and ‘uses’ all colors depending which one is needed at the time
    6) What are haiku’s best features? Humor and enlightenment
    7) What isn’t haiku? Haiku isn’t, … only if you don’t want her to be
    8) What does haiku do? Haiku waits … patiently. Every once in a while there’s a slight tap on the shoulder.
    9) What doesn’t haiku do? Doesn’t stay around long after she’s done her duty although sometimes after one of her haiku, there comes another and another. She can be manic at times, but I’ve never heard her scream. I have had her be annoying because she believes she has purpose, and between you and me, I think she does, too!
    10) What does haiku see? Haiku sees … oh yes! She sees Everything!!
    11 & 12) Who are haiku’s friends? Haiku makes friends everywhere/anywhere/anytime. She’s Always present
    13) What does haiku say if anything? She’s more of a whisper. You have to be very quiet to hear her. Lots of stuff. She says lots of stuff!!
    14) If Haiku were an animal what would it be? Her animal spirit is love and acceptance … so whatever animal she looks like to you is what she will be. She morphs. She’s pretty amazing!
    15) What does haiku smell like? Haiku smells like a waterfall’s mist
    16) If Haiku wanted to try something new what would it be? Haiku is always trying something new. I guess if she wanted to try something new she would use more adverbs and verbs just so she wouldn’t look like such a wizard! She’s still trying to teach me.
    17) How does Haiku move (if at all)? Haiku is very still, and she waits for the brain and heart to come to her and then she gets ready for the pen and paper to go to work.
    18) What does haiku look like? She’s beautiful … looks like love and kindness
    19) How does haiku feel? Haiku feels wonderful like a long lost friend you haven’t talked to in years and has so much to tell you.

    One sentence from my point of view…

    “Haiku is my ride … my vehicle on an excited path … bicycling through the deeper parts of the woods”

    1. Hi, Connie, I enjoyed your light-hearted vision of haiku and the fact that you call it a “she” when in French we say “un haiku” masculine. Yin Yang is the key I guess as much as Zen. Haiku morphs as you say…

      1. Thank you so much, Sebastien. I so enjoy your haiku and your continuing to educate us with the original haiku masters. This is a wonderfully diverse group and I’m so glad I discovered it.

  7. My sentence to describe haiku.

    haiku is magic, it can be pulled from thin air, it is life-affirming and a Goddess for all seasons; she is nature, inspiring, in all her glory and many guises, rainbow-coloured, a beautiful dancer who extends friendship to all.

    Anserine 4

    haiku is evolving
    slowly, it is magic, life-
    affirming, it inspires

    affirming, it inspires,
    the Goddess for all seasons;
    beautiful dancer

    beautiful dancer
    she is nature in all her
    glory, all weathers

    glory, all weathers,
    all guises, extends friendship
    comes from the fresh air

    comes from the fresh air,
    like sparkling dew on cut grass,
    affirming, it inspires

    affirming, it inspires,
    rainbow colours; shimmering gold,
    haiku is evolving.

    ©🦊VixenOfVerse, 2021.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.