bittersweet our talk of stamen and pistil


Modern Haiku 43.3



The new issue of Modern Haiku came in the mail the other day, so that was basically all anyone heard from me for the rest of the night. Among other good things there was an essay by Jim Kacian about haiku that are not three lines long.  It’s interesting to think about why three lines sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. It’s interesting that it works so often. The question is whether it works because we make it work — because we think of ourselves as writing three-line poems — or because there is something intrinsically haiku-ish about three lines. I haven’t answered that question to my satisfaction yet.

There’s so much good stuff in Modern Haiku. I gave a little talk this week at the university here about the history of English-language haiku (which was a blast, partly because I had a great audience), and I ended up talking a lot about Modern Haiku, because you can’t talk about the history of English-language haiku without talking a lot about Modern Haiku. They’ve been around almost the same amount of time. Pretty much everything that is in English-language haiku shows up in Modern Haiku at some point.

Here’s some of what I liked the most this time around.


morning light
the little pile of snow
before the keyhole

— Marilyn Appl Walker


new moon
someone else will hear
my words for you

— Petar Tchouhov


the gender gap

— Dietmar Tauchner


my home burning down in the curve of her hips autumn night

— Mike Spikes


an oak living that long without a center

— Neil Moylan


dead of winter
making stock
from the bones

— Jayne Miller


in tune with its obstacles, rain

— Eve Luckring


leaves on the river bank beginning dialysis

— Scott Glander


dawn crows the scuffle of nomenclature

— Cherie Hunter Day


2 thoughts on “(bittersweet)

  1. Having started writing haiku 40 years ago in three lines, the three lines come easily most of the time. Perhaps now it is a habit to think words in three lines, in short, long, short phrases. Back in the early 70’s , when haiku was new for me, I often struggled to get that form, now it seems natural. When it doesn’t feel natural, then I don’t fuss about it and try to rework the haiku to fit. Now I’ll revise to one line or two.

    Haven’t received my copy of Modern Haiku yet, but I’m looking forward to it.
    I need something good to read.


    • Hope you’ve gotten your issue by now and enjoyed it, Adelaide!

      More often than not I write in one line as my default and then decide whether the poem should be in more than one line and where the line breaks should be.

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