Why no 5-7-5?

I told two wonderful people several weeks ago that I would share with them why I write Haiku outside of the 5-7-5-line count that many English-speaking peoples are accustomed to writing.  I am always a person of my word.  This time I didn’t keep it and I apologize. When you are old and have an ill spell, well one is just a different person.

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Now that I think about it … who am I to discuss anything about haiku? Most who read my haiku know that I am a beginner. Beginner’s mind … blank slate. This is a good thing. I am German, precise, on time; exact … all things that have run my life to an extreme. These things in my humble opinion are the opposite of haiku or haiku mind. I must remind myself that I am 65 and I need not be anywhere for anyone on time again. I am retired.

So here is what I have to say about 5-7-5, haiku and myself and prompts.  Initially when I encountered haiku, probably in the seventies … I thought it was cool.  And hmm, it was apparent at that time the count was the standout aspect of the poem.  I wrote a bit at that time but not enough to matter.  No, I think that I came across haiku again when I was meant to do so … when I was ready to absorb it, when I was ready for haiku-mind.  I am not a religious person but I have long been one for whom the spirit has been important.  I was delighted when I came across NaHaiWriMo on Face Book.  Translated that means National Haiku Writing Month. It was the third place that I had encountered “no 5-7-5.”  For myself the syllable count is about precision.  Yet, haiku is about feeling.  It is about translating what you encounter into how you feel about that encounter.  And it is not that simple.  The whole 5-7-5 is a bit of a misnomer for we as English-speaking peoples count  syllables.  Apparently syllables are not in use in the Japanese language.  Instead they have sounds, yet in haiku not even “sounds” is the correct term for the count found in Japanese haiku.

Does this sound terribly confusing?  Especially, since I know not of what I speak?  Of course it does.  I can tell you however that there is a haiku mind and there is a way of haiku.  I have a lot of books on haiku, for having the Germanic personality that I have, I set out initially to study haiku. Instead, I have chosen to read the haiku of the ancients and of a few moderns.  I seem to be drawn to Japanese forms of poetry.  So, I like The Manyosho and I read Issa, Buson and Basho.  I also read of their lives for their lives formed their poetry.

While ill during February and March I lost all concentration, I could not write.  I could not comment upon the works of others but I could make myself write one haiku a day for the most part.  And they weren’t good.  But that is OK for they represented a discipline.  And within the writing I came closer to haiku mind.

So I will not recommend any of my many books.  Instead I shall steer you toward several writers of haiku with whom I have connected online for they “have it” in my opinion.  But, keep in mind that someone who “has it” for me might not have it for you.  Within their “having it” comes from them, a sense haiku mind. This collective sense bears no judgment, no criticism, just a sense of true connection with their worlds and thus emanates from them collectively a sense of peacefulness. Following are the blogs of which I speak:


Shiteki Na Usagi

Blue Willow Haiku World

Basho Revisited

Five Reflections


I am sure that I have forgotten someone.  Don’t be insulted.  I have “old mind” and I am working on haiku mind.