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A Page from My Journal: A Haibun

20 August 2014

I wrote very little this morning in my journal. Again, my brain goes into projection mode. It rehearses what I will tell a beleaguered client tomorrow. The thoughts rise above the desire to read and write.

Rustling sounds draw my attention towards the window. I take a look and see Boots, one of my rescues. This gentle cat is lying on the ground in sweet surrender.

The brain stops chatting. My body breathes. I smile.

clutter in my mind
signs of insecurities
cat asleep outside



Haibun Definition from Contemporary Haibun Online

Contemporary haibun is a combination of prose and haiku poetry, sometimes described as ‘a narrative of epiphany’. Like English haiku, English haibun is evolving as it becomes more widely practiced in the English speaking world.

Haibun is the Japanese name for 17th Century poet-monk Basho Matsuo’s poetic-prose travel journals which were studded with haiku. The best known are The Narrow Road to the Deep North and The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling.

Bruce Ross in an essay entitled “North American Versions of Haiku”, in Modern Haiku, Winter-Spring 1997, states that haibun has “syntax that is dominated by images” and cites Makoto Ueda’s four characteristics of haibun:

1) a brevity and conciseness of haiku
2) a deliberately ambiguous use of certain particles and verb forms in places where the conjunction ‘and’ would be used in English
3) a dependence on imagery
4) the writer’s detachment

Ken Jones, in a book review posted in Blythe Spirit suggested the following:

A haiku collection can be reviewed within a broad consensus of discourse. But in the more eclectic haibun tradition there are no such recognised markers. Reviewers and editors therefore need to set out some criteria so that their readers are aware of the standards to which they are working. Here I have used four sets of criteria. They are based on Basho’s view of haibun as haikai no bunsho – ‘writing in the style of haiku’.  read more


Photo by Arien via Morguefile



  1. Pingback: A Page from My Journal: Poetry | Writing on the Pages of Life

  2. Pingback: From the First Draft to the Second Draft – and the huge space in between | Writing on the Pages of Life

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