On making Haiku

------------------ by Yoko Sugawa

The key to making haiku is that when something of the natural world causes one to start in suprise and revelation and without delay one captures the moment in verse, one must be sure that this discovery, this shock caused by an encounter with a Truth is yours and yours alone. Throw away all preconceptions and predetermined ideas about the object and experience it as if you were a young child. In doing this, one is able to catch pure and fundamental Truths in nature and through this discover Truths within oneself and humankind in general. Rather than try to explain explicitly the correct way to make haiku, let us look at some of the common non-haiku that are often found trying to masquerade as the real thing.

1. Photographic descriptions of nature (objective "shasei")

2. Straight facts and common knowledge devoid of emotion

3. Pieces containing too much religion or intellectualism (non-literary)

4. Simple descriptions or accounts (prose)

5. Explanatory pieces leaving nothing for readers to discover for themselves

6. Rampant metaphors springing from the intellect

7. Pieces hiding their lack of content through ambiguity in language

The most common offenders are types 2 & 7. The above non-haiku are the kind that led to the corruption of haiku in the generations before Basho, before Buson and before Shiki. It is our mission to prevent this corruption from taking hold again in our times.