Saturday, April 10, 2021


graveyard –
the sound of a
falling leaf

tsuri-dōrō, March-April Issue, 2021 (Ed. Tony Pupello)


Sunday, March 28, 2021


Way to Classical

There still lies the pleasure of searching old books in the street shops for poetry lovers. More than three decades ago, while walking down the street of Dehradun in a winter morning, I picked up some rare and prized collections: The Major Metaphysical Poets, The Major Romantic Poets, The Major Victorian Poets, published by Washington Square Press, New York.

Today the withered, brown-tinted pages continue to emit the fragrance of freshness, and the writings unfold the ardent lyrical musicality and idyllic significance. My passion lingers on for collecting the pearls from the ocean of verses. I turn aside over my chair:  my daughter renders me a moon-smile scrolling on the Kindle edition of Modern English!

early summer
the wildflowers
I pick up
strewn along  
seldom trekked walkway

Valley Voices, The Literary Review, Mississippi Valley State University, Vol. 21, No.1, Spring 2021 (Ed. John Jheng)




Sunday, March 21, 2021


Anemone on Basho’s Narrow Road leading the way

Asahi Shimbun, 5th March 2021 (Ed. David McMurray)


Saturday, March 13, 2021

Archive: Haiku by Pravat Kumar Padhy, Mann Library, Cornell University

Feb 28, 2021 | AuthorPravat Kumar Padhy

so much to speak before
she left smiling


wild flower–
I breathe my


melting away my pain— garden dew


the zero-shadow moment I am with myself

cherry blossoms—
the scent bridging
the long river


moonlit shadow
the old dogs lick
each other


blue earth–
lone robot on
the moon


deep dark space
many cosmic townships
with their own light


early dawn–
millions of stars
in dark


moonrise the sky from the oncology wing



early evening
the bat moves


Dog is misspelled
the child discovered
the Great



composing haiga–
painting sunlight
with black ink



a piece of chalk in my pocket first day of retirement

Valentine’s Day—
between you and me
a thin moonlight



flock of sheep–
the moon guiding
the evening



morning breeze–
the remnant rain drops
holding on to leaves


cattle herd
the one who walks


deep silence–
planets move around
without noise


red carpet–

the monks walk


old palace–
the guide speaks on
behalf of the king



foreign land–
amongst all strangers
a known moon


coins our ancestors exchanged a great length of time



first rain
the paper boat carries
my childhood



tea garden–
the narrow lane
leading to the sky



winter morning
the scarecrow with
a snow-cap



desert journey—
camels follow shadow
after shadow



the morning enters
without a knock


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Haiku -The Tiny Poem and its Journey By Pravat Kumar Padhy



Japanese literature is largely inspired by Chinese literature during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China. The oldest Japanese poetic form, renga, is the nucleus of the evolvement of tanka and haiku down the literary history. Waka or uta originated in the 7th century AD in Japan.  Waka (WAH-KAH) (wa means ‘Japanese’, ka means ‘poem’) was later named as tanka. The waka was written on seasonal subjects (kidai). The waka remained as the neoclassical Japanese literature as characterized by the poets of the Man’yōshū, Kokin Wakashū, and Shin Kokin Wakashū eras.

The schemata or morae (sound units) patterns follow 5-7-5-7-7 (known as ‘sanjuichi’, the Japanese word for 31). The original structure was in 5-7, 5-7, 7 and subsequently, it became 5-7, 5-7-7 during the Man’yo period. Towards the end of the twelfth century, slowly the 5-7-5-7-7 format had been modified by dividing it into 5-7-5 and 7-7. By the fourteenth century, this took the shape of renga written in sequence by the participating poets. In the sixteenth century the opening stanza or the starting verse (5-7-5, go schichi go) of renga was named as ‘hokku’ and the last two-line (second verse) as ‘wakiku’.

Renga (series or chains of poems) is the Japanese collaborative linked poem and its later derivative, renku (haikai no renga). Haikai, a type of renga poetry, consists of at least 100 verses with alternating stanzas, or ku, of 5-7-5 and 7-7 mora (sound unit) per line and are linked in succession by the poets practicing during the Edo period.  Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) was the pioneer of writing classical ‘hokku’ and he had rendered aesthetic values to the verse writing with the brilliant poetic spell. Later Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902) christened “hokku” to “haiku(ha-i-ku, 3-sound in Japanese), independent of the haikai-no-renga, at the end of the nineteenth century. ‘Hototogisu’ is considered as the oldest and much respected journal founded by one of the disciples of Shiki in 1897.  

The Japanese haiku comprises three sections namely kami go (the top five-section), naka shichi (the middle seven-section), and shimo go (the lower five-section). Haiku consists of 17 ‘on’ or ‘morae’ (sound-bytes), written in Japanese in a vertical single line (top to bottom) with no spacing. There is no concept of syllable in the Japanese language. It is only sound-bytes.  The 17 sound-unit or phonetic-unit is roughly equivalent to 12 syllables in English.  Later on, in the English language, the schema is widely practiced as s/l/s form in haiku writings instead of strictly following the syllable-count. The Japanese have no plural for their nouns. Hence we speak of haiku and never haikus.

Matsua Basho (1644-1694) ,Yosa Busan (1716-1783), Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) and Mosaoka Shiki (1867-1902) are the Masters of  Haiku literature,   including  Chiyo-ni (1703-1775), a great women haikuist. Bruce Ross says for the beginners to study Basho for depth, Buson for craft, Issa for humanity and Shiki for a modern voice.

Haiku Spirit 

H F Noyes explains the meditativeness of haiku feeling in the article, “The Haiku” explaining hai,  means natural, and ku (in Chinese) means sky or emptiness. Further Noyes states, “When we let go of all our preconditioning, discarding our habitual mental sets, biases and stagnant emotive  states, our brush against the small and ordinary connects us with the universal and eternal. The absence of the period at the end of the modern haiku is meant to leave the haiku open-ended for an echoing extension into what Blake termed “eternity's sunrise.”

Noyes further adds, when we open a forest seed, in the empty covering may reside unseen the essence of some great tree. The essence of mind is similarly concealed. To quote from a Zen anthology:

 There is no place to seek the mind;

 It is like the footprints of birds in the sky

 (From ZENRINKUSHU cited in R. H. Blyth, Eastern Culture)

The advent of haiku poetry is associated with the Zen Buddhist monks way back since in the 15th and 16th centuries. According to the Pali canon, Harold Stewart opines haiku with reference to meditation, and says, “the longest process of consciousness caused by sense perception consists of seventeen thought-instants (cittakkhana) each briefer than a lightning flash”. Haiku is more than 400 years old. Saito Tokumoto has written about haikai in his book, “Haikai-Shogaku-Sho in 1641. Writing of 3-line haiku may date back to the 1600s in the western language in Dutch. Kaneko Tohta (1919-2018) attributed the haiku as evoking a cosmic sense (Uchu-teki). The structure and essence of haiku have influenced imagist poets like Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, William Carlos Williams, Wallace Stevens, John Gould Fletcher and others. Prior to Ezra Pound, as early as 1908, poet T E Hulme in his essay, “romanticism and classicism” wrote that the language of poetry is a “visual concrete one….Images in verse are not mere decoration, but the very essence.” In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound, Thirteen Ways of looking at a Blackbird  by Wallace Stevens  were some beautiful haiku-like poems.

Initially, haiku is written with 5-7-5 onji (Onji means the counting of phonic sounds).This is approximately equivalent to 12 (3-5-3) English syllables.  In Japanese literature, there is no such syllabic concept as in English. The Japanese haiku is written in the pattern of five ‘onji’, seven ‘onji’ and five ‘onji’. These formats are indeed the phonic or sound expression. Hence it is not possible to translate the Japanese haiku into English in the same format. For example ‘akai’ in Japanese has three sounds (a/ka/i). The word ‘akai’ means red and it is one syllable in English. Later on, in the English language, the schema is widely practised as  short/long/short (s/l/s) form in haiku writings. Japanese haiku and tanka can be memorized easily because of its rhythmic structure. In the Japanese language , unlike in English, due to the presence of grammatical particles (joshi) that are suffixed to nouns  with syntactic relationships, the word units can be moved  or shifted  within a sentence without affecting its overall core meaning.

Basho is considered as ‘Father of Haiku’. Basho was called Kinsaku in childhood and later known as Matsuo Munefusa. After moving into a hut with a banana tree alongside, he was known as ‘Basho’ as sobriquet around 1681. Basho’s famous ‘frog’ haiku remains  an iconic example in the haiku literature.

Examples of some of the classical haiku by the Masters:


old pond
a frog jumps into
the sound of water

-Basho (Tr. Jane Reichhold)

 Some of the memorable haiku by the Masters are exemplified below:


The sea darkens
and a wild duck's call
is faintly white




A crow
has settled on a bare branch –
autumn evening


summer grasses

where stalwart soldiers

once dreamed a dream

-Basho (Tr. Ueda)

is it sorry, I wonder,

hidden by the war helmet

is a cricket 

-Basho (Tr. Alan Summers)

A wanderer’s thought

this autumn

why am I aging so?

to the clouds, a bird

-Basho  (tr. Ueda).

(This was Basho’s last poem)


A field of mustard,

no whale in sight,

the sea darkening.

-Buson (Tr. Robert Hass)


The cool of morning —
Separating from the bell,
The voice of the bell.

-Buson (Tr. Donald Keene)


Evening wind:
water laps
the heron’s legs




a gust of wind -
and the water birds
become white




The cool of morning —
Separating from the bell,
The voice of the bell.

-Buson (Tr. Donald Keene)

O snail

Climb Mount Fuji,

But slowly, slowly!

-Issa (Tr. R H Blyth)


rising to the blue sky

baby sparrow’s

first cry



a sight to see!
from a hole in the wall
autumn moon

-Issa (Tr. David Lanoue)

the baby sparrow

chirps inside it...

rice gourd

- Issa (Tr. David G. Lanoue)


A carp leaps up


the autumn moonlight

-Shiki (Tr. Burton Watson)


I'm trying to sleep!
Please swat the flies

-Shiki, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Smoke whirls

After the passage of a train.

Young foliage.



morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water

-Chiyo-ni (Tr. Donegan and Ishibashi)

green grass—

between, between the blades

the colour of the water

-Chiyo-ni (Tr. Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi)

Characteristics of Haiku Writing

Haiku is considered as the shortest non-rhyming Japanese poetry form written in three lines, in 5-7-5 format, with 17 syllables in total. Generally, the strict syllable style is not followed in English and it is written in the form of short/long/short lines, all in lowercase. It comprises two images or thoughts in the form of the fragment (Line 1) and phrase (Lines 2 and 3) and they juxtapose each other either. The fragment could also be expressed in the third line. The art of juxtaposition (comparison, a contrast or an association) between images of fragment and phrase is an exploration of reasoning and a poetical logic that resides in one’s imagism sensibility processes. Sometimes the art of juxtaposition can be infused within the expression of ‘phrase’ itself (I coined it as intra-juxtaposition).  Greg Piko says, “The result can be particularly moving when an image from nature is set beside an image that depicts human behaviour.”

This can be broadly referred to in T.S. Eliot’s term, as the “objective correlative”: “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events [in writing] which shall be the formula of that particular emotion….”

The poem reflects the present happening (hence preferred to be composed in present tense)  in nature with a seasonal reference. The art of haiku dwells in capturing the image in an aesthetic and simple way without any poetic ornamentation and allowing the readers to interpret in their own style. Kenneth Yasuda correlates the three lines of haiku with time, place, and object.  Denis M, Garrison says, “It is a commonplace to say that the haiku reader “co-creates the haiku” by adding from his/her own experiential context to the haiku and, thereby, completing it.”

The haiku contains two images, the ‘fragment’ (one line) and the ‘phrase’ (two lines) that link and shift. Haiku is an objective-based expression. The subject and object are objective in haiku.  It is not a sentence, but a fragment of a sentence, hence there is no capital letter or full stop in haiku writing, and there is no title of the haiku. However, the sequential composition of haiku (haiku sequence or tanka sequence) is known as rensaku and it is written with the title. Additionally, the two images should not reflect the simple cause and effect. The art of haiku writing lies in the multiple meanings that it carries for the readers to think. Hence Ogiwara 

Seisensui once referred to haiku as being “unfinished” poems. David Cobb of the British Haiku Society advises that the poem is often better if you leave out the cause (for the reader to guess) and give two effects. Between fragment and phrase, there lies a subtle silence in the form of pause (kireji). In Japanese, the Kireji (ya, kana, keri, nari) is expressed by phonetic-units (mora,  but in English, it is denoted by punctuation (ellipses or dash). The ‘Kireji’, in its sublime form, sparks the juxtaposition or disjunction of the two images (syntactic pivot) facilitating a “leap’. It interestingly divides and unites the images at the same time. For example in Basho’s frog haiku, the Japanese the poem reads as:  “furu ike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto.” The ‘ya’ at the end of the first line is a kureji (COO-RAY-GEE)– cutting word. This infers a break and it is represented in English as a dash or ellipses so that poem could not be read as a sentence like “old pond / the frog jumps into”. If the poet thinks that the expression is explicit for the reader to understand the lyrical expression of the images without difficulty, the natural pause itself takes care of the cutting word. According to Herbert Jonsson the cut, whether it is marked by a cutting word or not, was the central issue. Haiku with subtle rhyme sometimes add poetic resonance.

One can put ‘dash’ or ‘dots’ (ellipsis) to separate the two distinct images. Sometimes, as opined by Jane Reichhold, the middle line (pivot line of a haiku) artfully reflects multiple interpretations by joining with the Line 1 and also with Line 3. Here a pause after the Line 1 is not preferred. In the following haiku, line 2 can be associated with line 1, also with line 3.


Willow branches bend
with the river current
ducks drift backwards

-Martin Lucas

Writing haiku with layered meanings and intuitions is an art of poetic credence. Aptly John Stevenson says, ‘….. any poem that succeeds in stimulating intuition is going to read differently to different readers…” Minimum use of adjectives, articles, gerunds, refraining from the use of simile, metaphor (with exception of implied poetic predicament or extrinsic metaphor), adverbs, verbs, prepositions, and conditional clauses are some of the essential characteristics of writing haiku. The image of nature can be artfully juxtaposed to express human behavior. However, subtle metaphoric expression with logical credence, the use of figurative adjectives add literary beauty to the enlightened (satori) nature. Some poets use indirect similes with wordplays. Indeed the art of haiku composition is an expression of poetic elegance (miyabi) in simplicity (iki) style. I wish to exemplify the essence of simplicity in observation with Issa’s following haiku:

As if nothing happened

– the crow there

the willow here

-Issa (Tr. Nanao Sakaki)

In general, the haiku should not be personified and it is non-rhymic. The poem is written about the keen observations of happenings around nature or human aspects related to the elements of nature (Shizen) based on the experience through five senses. Fay Aoyagi says, “With haiku eyes, I see my inner self. With haiku ears I listen to my surroundings. With haiku tongue I taste my past. With haiku nose I sense my future. With haiku fingers I open and close tiny drawers in my mind.”

Robert Spiess says, “A haiku lets things become what they are.” Touchingness of things (mono na aware) and touchningness of life (yo no aware) are the essences of haiku. It is better to refrain from incorporating ordinary cause and effect, abstractions, philosophical aspects etc while writing haiku. The poet should not be judgmental. On the contrary, he can explain the cause of feeling rather than his self-feeling and put it in the present tense to create the haiku spirit (haiku –no-kokoro) with poetic musicality.  At no point, it should be a sentence broken into three lines. There are different linked forms or genres of haiku such as Monoku (one- line haiku), haibun (prose interspersed with haiku), haiga (image, drawing or photo with haiku). Haiku could be also a single image (ichibutsujitate).  Senryu, written in haiku style, is more of witty, satire nature with human attributes and are not reliant on seasonal or nature (muki) reference.

Art of haiku writing is a way of imaging nature (kocho-fuei), behavioural sense of man, animal and non-living entities, and exploring the human feeling and relationship. Haiku is unique in its form and simplistic expression with reference to season or nature as a whole. The tiniest object of nature has its genuine worth in this world. I feel it is the realisation of this truth and zen-feeling (ethical goodness) of Buddhist lineage that has given rise to the genesis of the haiku poem. The haiku discovers the meaning of each entity through aesthetic ways: simplicity (wabi) and  loneliness (sabi) . This makes it a distinct style from other poetry forms. It reflects simplicity and honesty in expression without any artificiality, complexity or pretention. “Haiku is a healthy habit…a haiku sensibility, a haiku heart and mind can bring you healthy incremental happiness by establishing relationships and meaning with the near infinite forms and life forms in our world,” says Tom Clausen.

It enunciates a contemplation of spiritualism and the realization of self- being a part of nature. The basic elements (teikei) of haiku are the seasonal reference (kigo), the subtle  silence in the form of pause (kireji), rhythmically and grammatically, inferring two distinct images or thoughts of the poem,  Juxtaposition (renso), depth and mystery (yugen), contained space (ma), becomingness (kokora), lightness (karumi), elegant separateriess (Shubumi), aesthetic beauty (bi) ,creativeness (zoko) and elegance (fuga). It is an art of capturing the happening at the present moment and leaving the interpretation to the readers without telling it (show but do not tell) with brevity (less is more). Jane Reichhold says “…….Poetry is vision of what is here and now and what it can be.” She further adds, Haiku use images not ideas – things not thinking. …Like life, haiku require learning, experience, and balance.”

Alan Summers says, “Essential components of haiku are literally what is not said in text, using a judicial amount of negative space, also known as whitespace, and MA : a void in the poem that produces something in-between the two parts of a haiku; This is where, despite a lack of black (visible) text, this invisible section can add contextuality, sharpness, and tension to the poem as a whole. The core of many haiku is the dance with white space/whitespace,where it’s used parallel to the seen/visible text on the page…”

Unexpectedness (atarashimi) and drifting mood (nioi) in expression render beauty to haiku. The poetic sincerity (fuga no makota) as aspired by Basho is the cornerstone of haiku writing. In haiku ‘utamakura’ ie reference of places, rivers, mountains, etc is also used. Haruo Shirane says, “haiku in English is a short poem, usually written in one to three lines, that seeks out new and revealing perspectives on the human and physical condition, focusing on the immediate physical world around us, particularly that of nature, and on the workings of the human imagination, memory, literature, and history.”

Lee Gurga, a great haiku poet, suggested the following key aspects for writing haiku.



·         Choose a single moment. What is the moment? Is there a specific moment?

·         Bring out the significance. Will that moment mean something top the reader? If you cannot bring out the significance of the moment, should you let it go and write another?

·         Avoid cause and effect. Do you have two full-fledged, independent images? Is one image simply a restatement of the other? Is one image dependent on the other in a cause-and-effect relationship?

·         Suggest the season. Does your haiku contain a seasonal reference or inference? Wouldn't it have greater resonance if you included one?

·         Provide only what is essential. Does your haiku say too much? Too little? Has irrelevant material been introduced? Has something important been left out? Can the reader distinguish the incidental from the essential?

·         Say what you mean. Are you too close to your haiku to be able objectively to correct errors and judge its impact on others? Have you considered asking a friend or a writers' workshop to look at your haiku with a mind to rooting out grammatical problems and lapses of logic?

·         Follow the order of perception. In what order are the images in your haiku presented? Have you re-arranged them for effect and risked jumbling the experience for the reader?

·         Engage the senses. What senses are awakened by the images? Can the poem be improved by expanding the sensory range of the moment?

·         Present clear, specific images. Do your images present the essential elements of the haiku moment? Do they focus attention on the moment? Could your images really be thoughts, statements, or opinions masquerading as images?

·         Use internal comparison. How do your images interact? Are they too close to be interesting or so distant that they seem arbitrary? Are they contrived? Which of the techniques of comparison presented in the section on juxtaposition above -- echo, contrast, expansion--have you used?

·         Tape the power of suggestion. Is the haiku complete and total unto itself? Have you left something for the reader so the poem can grow? Is your creation a beautiful, highly polished stone displayed in a way calculated to evoke admiration from readers . . .or is it a stone dropped into a pond that will cause ripples in the reader's minds?

·         Choose the best form. Which form have you chosen for the haiku? The traditional 5-7-7 syllables? 2-3-2 beats? Free-form? How many lines? Was this a conscious, informed decision on your part? Does your haiku have any awkward or nonsensical line breaks? Does the text follow the rhythms of speech? If not, is there a very good reason?

·         Suspect every verb. Does the haiku contain a verb? A participle? No verbal form at all? Have you tried the several options to see how the haiku works in other ways?

·         Challenge adjectives and adverbs. Which of the modifiers you have used in the haiku are necessary? Which are decoration?

·         Discriminate among articles and pronouns. Have you double-checked your use of definite and indefinite articles and personal pronouns? 

·         Cut unnecessary words. Have you said only as much as necessary? Is there any repetition or redundancy? Have you over-edited and lost the natural diction?

·         Listen to the sound. Is the sound quality consistent with the mood you want to convey? When you read the poem aloud, is it smooth and natural? Can you eliminate jarring sounds?

·         Avoid unnecessary punctuation. Try to read your haiku afresh: does the punctuation facilitate understanding of the moment? Is a punctuation mark at the end of a line necessary or would the line break itself do the job?

·         Use figurative language sparingly. Does your haiku use simile or metaphor? Why?

·         Express mood sensitively. Is your means of expression consistent with the mood of the poem? Is your mood evident without your stating it outright? Will readers find it too obvious? Have you been properly sensitive to the way small word changes and seasonal distinctions can alter the mood of the haiku?

·         Consider propriety. Is your haiku moment very personal or intimate? Is there a chance that your haiku will embarrass or offend a reader?

·         Keep it light. Can you lighten your touch by adding a dram of humor? Is your haiku too serious or dark? Too flippant? Would you really rather be writing threnodies, senryu, or zappai?

·         Avoid half a haiku. Can you identify two full images in your haiku? Maybe the haiku is merely a single image chopped into three lines? Have you tacked a comment or title onto one sole image? Have you come up with a great image, then merely added a "date-stamp" to serve as your second image? Is your haiku an equation, with one line nothing more than the sum of the other to--i.e., a + b = c? Does one image simply explain or interpret the other?

·         Create a clear context. Is the context of your haiku clear? Does it need to be? Would it aid your purpose to sharpen (or blur) the focus a little?

·         Use fresh images. Can you omit or replace any clichés or trite images that have sneaked into your haiku?

·         Break old habits: Have you written a short Western poem and disguised it as a haiku? Are you intellectualising rather than letting natural images speak for themselves? Have you renounced your dependence on simile and metaphor?

Haiku in English

Haiku in English grew its popularity during the 1960s and 1970s. Dutchman Hendrik Doeff (1764–1837) was known to be the earliest westerner to have written haiku.  The first successful haikuesque poem written in English was "In a Station of the Metro" by Ezra Pound in 1913.

“The apparition of these faces in the crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough.”

Ezra Pound defines an image as “an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time,” and “a form of superposition…one idea set on top of another. It is the presentation of such a “complex” instantaneously which gives that sense of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth, which we experience in the presence of the greatest works of art.” Pound describes Haiku in his essay “Vorticism” is ‘directness of expression’.

In 1877, W G Aston, first translated haiku in English. Harold G. Henderson (1889-1974) describes haiku as “Primarily it is a poem; and being a poem it is intended to express and evoke emotion... haiku is a very short poem... more concerned with human emotions than with human acts, and natural phenomena are used to reflect human emotion.” The American Beat Poets of the nineteen-fifties  namely  Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso, Keneth Rexroth, and others were influenced by the aesthetic nature of  haiku poetry . The pioneer translators of the Japanese haiku into English are Arthur Waley (1865-1966), R B Blyth (1898-1964), and others. Ezra Pound, William Butler Yeats, Amy Lowell, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Jack Kerouac, Sonia Sanchez, Robert Haas, James Emanuel and others are the pioneers infusing haiku literature in America.

The editors of ‘The Academy announced the first known English-language haikai contest in Britain on April 8, 1899, and later William George Aston's History of Japanese Literature was published. Alfred Stephens of Australia also took interest in haiku. In America, Yone Noguchi published "A Proposal to American Poets," in The Reader Magazine in February 1904 citing outline of his own English hokku. Paul Reps (1895–1990), a Buddhist poet’s haiku-like verses appeared in 1939 (More Power to You—Poems everyone Can Make, Preview Publications, Montrose CA.). Yoshinobu Hakutani in his book, “Haiku and Modernist Poetics” talks about the popularity of Haiku in the Western world after World War II.

Slowly, western poets including those of the Beat period, such as Gary SnyderJack KerouacRichard Wright, and James W. Hackett, wrote original haiku in English. African-American novelist Richard Wright wrote extensively and even the mainstream poets like W H Auden, Ruth Stone, Billy Collins and others tried to compose haiku poems. In 1963 the journal American Haiku was founded which in 1969 became the present ‘Modern Haiku’. Nick Virgilio’s lily haiku in 1988 is a landmark beginning in western freestyle haiku culture.


out of the water
out of itself

In 1956, the first English-language haiku society in America was founded and later  in 1968, The Haiku Society of America was established and published its journal

Frogpond in 1978. Hackett, Virgilio, Charles B. Dickson (1915–1991), Elizabeth Searle Lamb (1917–2005), Raymond Roseliep (1917–1983), Robert Spiess (1921–2002), John Wills (1921–1993), Anita Virgil (b. 1931), and Peggy Willis Lyles (1939–2010) are amongst earlier pioneer American haikuist. Besides, America, slowly the haiku became popular in Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other places including India.

Subsequently Lee Gurga, Christopher Herold, Robert D Wilson, Gary Hotham, Jim Kacian, Bruce Ross, Don Baird, Michael McClintock, Marlene Mountain, Don Wentworth, Marian Olson, Alan Pizzarelli, Alexis Rotella, John Stevenson, George Swede, vincent tripi, Michael Dylan Welch, Ruth Yarrow, Deborah P Kolodji, Paul Miller, Alan Summers, John Barlow, Cherie Hunter Day, R D Bailey, A C Missias, Carolyn Hall, paul m., John Martone, Chad Lee Robinson, Robert Epstein, Billie Wilson, and Peter Yovu contributed a lot in haiku literature. Poets like Allan Burns, Richard Gilbert, Stanford M. Forrester, Rotella and George Swede, Fay Aoyagi, Scott Metz and others carried out innovative experiments of this genre.

The pioneering work in English includes Henderson’s The Bamboo Broom (1934), An Introduction to Haiku (1958), and Haiku in English (1965),Blyth’s four-volume Haiku (1949-52) and Kenneth Yasuda’s  book, ‘The Japanese Haiku: Its Essential Nature, History and possibilities’ in English (1957). English language haiku journals such as American Haiku (1963), Haiku Highlights (1965), Haiku (1967), Haiku West (1967), Modern Haiku (1969), Dragonfly (1973), Cicada (1977), and Frogpond (1977) were published. The Haiku Society of America (HSA), the Haiku International Association (HIA) rendered immense services to popularize haiku writings amongst the English speaking people. Marlene Mountain was one of the first English-language haiku poets to write monoku amongst many others.

Experiments with concrete haiku, four-line haiku (haiqua,) or celtic haiku practiced by Toto, two-line haiku by Vincent Tripti, David Reynold, Robert Boldman, and others,  circular haiku (cirku) and one-word haiku (‘Tundra’ by Cor van den Heuvel,1963) have enriched the scope of the genre. In 1997, ai li invented  ‘Cherita’ (story telling) with 6-line poem (consists of a single stanza of a one-line verse, followed by a two-line verse, and then finishing with a three-line verse). There started a contemporary haiku movement to do some experimental like free verse haiku known as ‘gendai’ ( gendai means “modern”, like “avant-garde” or “ contemporary” in English). Recently parallel haiku written by Johannes S. H. Bjerg, Hansha Teki and others have been experimented on. Lee Gurga defines zappai as a form of poetry that "includes all types of seventeen syllable poems that do not have the proper formal or technical characteristics of haiku.” Pravat Kumar Padhy has experimented with an innovative genre of poetry, ‘Hainka’: a poetic fusion of haiku and tanka, with the image linking of the ‘fragment of the haiku as the ‘pivot line’ of the following tanka (article archived in the Digital Library, The haiku Foundation).

Keeping in view the basic elements of aesthetic haiku culture, based on technological development, geographical spread and way of living, there seems to be some differences in the perception that has influenced poetry as well. Sono Uchida, one time President of the International Haiku Association explains:

Haiku has also developed as a poem which expresses deep feelings for nature, including human beings. This follows the traditional Japanese idea that man is part of the natural world, and should live in harmony with it. This differs considerably from the Western way of thinking, in which man is regarded as being independent of, and perhaps superior to, the rest of nature.

Stephen says, “For North American poets, for whom the seasonal word cannot function in the fashion that it did for these Japanese masters, this becomes a more pressing issue, with the need to explore not only metaphorical and symbolic possibilities but new areas - such as history, urban life, social ills, death and war, cyberspace, Haiku need not and should not be confined to a narrow definition of nature poetry, particularly since the ground rules are completely different from those in Japan.”

The spirit of haiku dwells in the aesthetic values of the tiniest things of this beautiful creation and weaving thread with zen-feeling assimilating self with the rest. Aptly Jim Kacian, in his new book, SIX DIRECTIONS, states, “through the cumulative effects of small moments, we expand our sense of the universe to its full size, that the only way out of a circle is through its center. He goes on to state, If we did not believe the former, we would not believe in haiku as a way and a means. When we pass through the center, subject and object, time and space disappear and we move outside of the plane where we began, infinity, eternally changed.”


Pravat Kumar Padhy has obtained his Masters of Science and Technology and a Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, ISM Dhanbad. His literary work is cited in Interviews with Indian Writing in English, Spectrum History of Indian Literature in English, Alienation in Contemporary Indian English Poetry, History of Contemporary Indian English Poetry, etc. His Japanese short forms of poetry (Haiku, Haibun, Haiga, Tanka,Tanka Prose, etc) have been widely published. “How Beautiful”, a poem written by him, is included in the Undergraduate English Curriculum at the university level. He has seven collections of verse to his credit including “The Speaking Stone” (2020).

His poems received many awards, honours and commendations including the Editors’ Choice Award at Writers Guild of India, Sketchbook, Asian American Poetry, Poetbay, Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival International Haiku Honourable Mention, UNESCO International Year Award of Water Co-operation, The Kloštar Ivanić International Haiku Award, IAFOR Vladimir Devide Haiku Award and others. His work is showcased in the exhibition “Haiku Wall”, Historic Liberty Theatre Gallery in Bend, Oregon, USA. His haiku have been featured in the prestigious Mann Library, Cornell University, USA. His tanka, ‘I mingle’ is featured in the “Kudo Resource Guide”, University of California, Berkeley. His Taiga (Tanka-Photo) is featured in the 20th Anniversary Taiga Showcase of American Tanka Society. His tanka has been put on rendition (music by José Jesús de Azevedo Souza) in the Musical Drama Performance, ‘Coming Home’, The International Opera Through Art Songs, Toronto, Canada. He has experimented with a new genre of linked form, Hainka: the fusion of haiku and tanka. His haiku have been featured in the Mann Library, Cornell University, USA.

He guest-edited for Per Diem (Celestial Bodies-Monoku), The Haiku Foundation, November Issue, 2019.  He is nominated to the prestigious panel of ‘The Touchstone Awards for Individual Poems’, The Haiku Foundation, USA. Presently he is the Editor of Haibun, Haiga and Visual Haiku of the Journal, ‘Under the Basho’.


 Publication Credit: Kitaab International. Singapore, 25.1.2021


In this essay, award-winning poet Pravat Kumar Padhy traces the history of Haiku and the characteristics of Haiku writing. Introduction Japanese literature is largely inspired by Chinese literature during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in China. The oldest Japanese poetic form, renga, is the nucleus of the evolution of tanka and haiku down the literary history. Waka or uta…...