Brevity in Haiku

I follow Don Wentworth and Paper Boat Haiku Review on Facebook for well-curated haiku. This led me to an article by Jim Wilson, which takes a different view of haiku syllabics than the usual. Really interested me, the idea of running some lines a bit longer. Here it is, below.
Jim Wilson: As I have mentioned in other posts, this minimalist esthetic is guided by the principle that ‘less is more’ and the fewer the words the better the Haiku.
In the essay ‘Haiku Form’ (haiku poet) Hackett wrote:

“I for one find it more than sad to witness the crude obscurantist effect that an over-emphasis upon concision has had upon the creation of some haiku in the United States. Brevity per se does not make a haiku! . . . As one who believes haiku in English can be poetry, I deplore the corrosive effect of what I term minimalism – or telegraphic usage – in our haiku.”
For an article by Jim Wilson, with haiku, on J. W. Hackett (with his argument against concision in haiku composition), visit:…/haiku-of-james…
This also includes a look at the haiku of James Wright.

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About Miriam Sagan

I'm blogging about poetry, land art, haiku, women artists, road trips, and Baba Yaga at Miriam's Well ( The well is ALWAYS looking to publish poetry on our themes, sudden fiction, and guest bloggers and musers.

7 thoughts on “Brevity in Haiku

  1. Haiku minimalism is, I think, a reaction to the practice of padding haiku to achieve 17 syllables. I don’t write in the syllable-count style — I take the “one breath” approach — but Nick Virgilio did, and his haiku never feel padded.

    It all comes down to keeping what’s essential and leaving out what’s not. Maybe that poem will be only one word, or maybe it’ll be the full 17 syllables, but every bit of it should feel necessary. Conciseness should never come at the cost of meaning.

    Ideally, a poem doesn’t leave the reader hung up on the form or the genre; all of that should be as transparent as a wine glass holding a fine vintage, don’t you think? :- )

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