Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Lynne Rees, Editor
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Editor's Introduction

Hello, and a warm welcome to the haibun section of Simply Haiku. I have no ‘rules’ as to what makes a good haibun with regard to subject matter, length, or even as to the style of the prose, which can, and does, take on a variety of styles, e.g. the narrative voice, lyricism, a compressed syntax, or stream of consciousness. What matters to me in haibun matters to me for all good writing, regardless of the genre. As a reader I want to be made to feel and think. I want to be stimulated by the unfamiliar, or have my experience of the familiar freshened in some way. As a writer, I want to see that all the hard work of crafting and editing has already been done. In addition, absolute factual truth isn’t important to me. Just because something happened doesn’t necessarily make it worth turning into literature. It’s the emotional truth, something that feels real, that matters more.

For me, the power of haibun lies in the juxtaposition of prose and poetry, something no other contemporary literary form attempts. In a recent interview the acclaimed English haijin, David Cobb, said that the haiku in a haibun need to be “good in themselves and also perform a role within the haibun.” He goes on, “I do believe that the haiku should retain a link and shift relationship to the prose, which should also have the capacity to stand alone too. But the essential thing, surely, is that neither prose nor poetry should upstage each other.”

And that is what I work towards, often with difficulty, in my own haibun, and what I look for in the haibun I read. A sense that the different parts of the haibun are both inseparable and inform each other, and autonomous. Is this a contradiction? Probably. But the most stimulating things in life tend to be contradictory.

The following questions might help you in assessing your work with a view to submitting it to Simply Haiku, but they are in no way intended to be prescriptive, or even proscriptive.

  • Does the haibun open strongly?
  • Does the chosen tense serve the subject matter?
  • Is there an effective transition between prose and haiku/haiku and prose?
  • What is the function of the haiku?
  • Have you made conscious decisions as to their placing?
  • Is any description more than just decoration? Is it significant and contributing to what the haibun is doing as a whole?
  • Does your haibun carry meaning for a reader?

I very much look forward to reading and being inspired by your work.

Please read the Submissions page for precise guidelines and send no more than three haibun to:

Lynne Rees

Copyright 2008: Simply Haiku