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Haiku / Monoku - what's a poet to do?

A modern monoku.

A modern monoku.

haiku / haiga

haiku / haiga

Haiku

Many of us here on Hub Pages write haiku - a Japanese haiku poetic form in English. Haiku can be written just on its own or can be accompanied by a photo or image. Many times then it is called a haiga. But, the traditional haiku still remains the favorite of so many poets.

The haiku in English is a short poem, a 'cutting', of usually two images about the essence of experiences of nature or season that is intuitively linked to the human condition. It is a composed of three lines with a total of seventeen syllables in the poem:

  • line 1 - five syllables
  • line 2 - seven syllables
  • line 3 - five syllables

The haiku also uses a caesura (a pause) respresented by punctuation, a space, or a line break to compare the two images.

A good haiku uses an economy of words to paint a multi-tiered image (picture) and usually 'shows' the reader an image rather than 'tells' about the subject.

Haiku is a fun poem to write with the economy of words and the challenge of the syllable count and using the least amount of words to create a 'painting of the mind.'

One of the best known Japanese haiku was written by the Japanese master, Matsuo Basko (1644-1694) and translated into English:


at the age old pond

a frog leaps into water

a deep resonance ~ Matsuo Basko


Monoku

Tradition reigned in haiku writing until the 1970s when a variant to the haiku was invented. It became known as the monoku.

The monoku is a one-line poem variation of the haiku. Three writers of poetry in the 1970s made the monoku popular as a form of haiku. They are:

  • Marlene Mountain who wrote monoku in horizontal line
  • Hiroaki Sato who translated Japanese haiku into one line in English. Sometimes that line is in vertical rather than horizontal form
  • Matsuo Allard wrote essays in favor of the monoku form and published several magazines devoted to the form

Monoku is written as a single line which contains seventeen syllables or less. It includes a caesura (a pause) dictated by a sense or speech rhythm with little or no punctuation. The first word in the line is not capitalized and is in lowercase.

Some examples:


pig and I -- spring rain ~ Marlene Mountain



an icicle -- a moon drifting through it. ~ Matsuo Allard


listen to the pause - silence is golden ~ www.monoku-ichthys.blog


she knew of longing - this dream of love, alone ~ Jack Jordan, Poetry Soup


Monoku can also be written in a sequence as haiku sometimes is written also. Example:


a peramulator arrives - emptiness takes its leave

a quietness descendes - fresher terms opens

room-to-let illumes - emptiness returns

~ Marlene Mountain



As you can see, this is stripping the haiku down to its bare essence. A one line poem is about as economical as a poet can get. Yet, even with this short and economical poem ,the writer is still able to produce an image - a picture in the reader's mind. The reader is left with several ways to interpret this 'mini-poem' and several explanations are possible.


View the photos below and write your own monoku to go with them!



Below are the same photos with monoku underneath written by suzettenaples:



green grass - threading its way to sun and life ~ suzettenaples

green grass - threading its way to sun and life ~ suzettenaples

nature in sepia - memories of ripples along the lake  ~ suzettenaples

nature in sepia - memories of ripples along the lake ~ suzettenaples

golden dome - sunlight slivers through ~ suzettenaples

golden dome - sunlight slivers through ~ suzettenaples

hugging goldfish - waterlust love ~ suzettenaples

hugging goldfish - waterlust love ~ suzettenaples

sunflowers smile - sun radiates upon upturned face

sunflowers smile - sun radiates upon upturned face

one drop - a tsunami begins ~ suzettenaples

one drop - a tsunami begins ~ suzettenaples

Comments

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on November 07, 2014:

Thank you, Audrey and I am glad you enjoyed this. Who knew there were monokus?

Audrey Howitt from California on November 07, 2014:

Loved this!!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on November 04, 2014:

AUPADHYAY: Thank you for reading and I am glad you enjoyed this.

ANIL KUMAR UPADHYAY from INDIA, UTTAR PRADESH STATE, KANPUR CITY on November 04, 2014:

The great info hub.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 12, 2013:

Lurana: Thank you so much. I just recently ran across some monoku and didn't really know about these myself. I guess we are never to old to learn. LOL Glad you enjoyed these and thanks so much for your visit - most appreciated.

MrsBrownsParlour on August 11, 2013:

Very interesting! I think I have seen examples of monoku but never heard the name before. The photos are beautiful too. Great hub! ~Lurana

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 10, 2013:

Jo: I know how you feel - a love the 5 7 5 haiku form too. I like the constrictness of it and it is a challenge to write it in that form. I recently ran across the monoku and I had never heard of it before. Guess I've been living in a cave. So, I thought I try it too. I like it also, but prefer the traditional haiku.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 10, 2013:

Suzette, I just saw my last comment here, and what I wanted to say was that

"I " needed to take Martin's advice.

I love the 5 7 5 haiku form, but should really try being more adventurous, Martin once dared me to do a tanka poem awhile back, and of course it was fun.... I must have a go at the Monoku, thanks again for sharing this.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 09, 2013:

Vinaya: I, too, just recently learned about the monoku - a one line haiku. Doesn't get much economical with words as that! LOL I know, I have read some of your haiku, senryu, and haiga and they are beautiful. You are talented in that area of poetry. Thanks for your visit.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on August 08, 2013:

I have done Haiku, senryu, haiga, but did not know non traditional haiku are called Monoku.

I take interest in English and non English poetry forms. This hub is useful and informative.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 06, 2013:

Blossom: Thank you! I just recently discovered monoku and didn't know about it myself. I found a one-line poem to be interesting and creative, so I thought I'd share what I found. Thanks so much for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 06, 2013:

Thank you Eddy. Your comments are always so sweet and so true! I'm glad our paths crossed here on HP as I consider you one of my best writing friends. Your creativity amazes me!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 06, 2013:

Mhatter: No, I didn't take your comments negatively. lol Yes, I agree with you, but in middle school we need to teach the foundations first. Then, students can go off and explore and spread their joy. It is not that I believe in rigid rules of poetry. Students need to understand the rules and how they work before they can break them and create, that's all. I hope you didn't take my comments negatively either.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on August 06, 2013:

I love haiku, but I've never heard of Monoku before. Thank you for some beautiful examples and your explanation.

Eiddwen from Wales on August 05, 2013:

A wonderful hub Suzette and here's to so many more for us both to share on here.

Eddy.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 04, 2013:

I was worried you might take my comment negatively. A good teacher walks by their student's side. Go off. Explore. Spread your Joy.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

PDX: Glad you enjoyed this hub. I have enjoyed your comments. Thanks for the share. And I didn't know Ginsberg wrote monoku. I just recently discovered the monoku - I guess I've been living under a rock lol. Thanks for your visit and you can't get more economical than a one line poem!

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on August 04, 2013:

Very nice work, Suzette. I'll be sharing this with my facebook group. I generally prefer poetry without restrictions, yet, I also love Haiku because it forces an economy of words. There's nothing worse than a poem filled with bloated language.

Ginsberg also wrote single line haiku on occasion.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

tobusiness: Glad you enjoyed this. Yes, even Basho, the master, played around with the syllables. Nothing is carved in stone when it comes to writing and to writing poetry. I think inspiration and creativity are what is important. Also, when translating from the Japanese to English there is always a bit of leeway. Thanks so much for your visit - mosst appreciated.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

Dear Faith: Thank you so much for reading this and I'm glad you enjoyed it. The photos are not mine, just the monoku's. But, I loved these photos so much and they inspired me to write, that I had to share them. Thanks for the votes.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

Vellur: I didn't know a monoku existed until recently. The reason for writing this hub. Thank you for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

vocalcoach: Sure, you can send me your monoku, but I have a feeling you will write one just fine! Thank you for reading and for your enthusiasm! Much appreciated.

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

Thanks Gypsy: I am so glad you enjoyed reading this and thanks for the passing on. I recently just learned about the monoku and found it fascinating!

Suzette Walker (author) from Taos, NM on August 04, 2013:

Mhatter: Wow! You know your Japanese. You have been holding out on us. I gave the English translation of Basho's haiku and it is not word for word or syllable to syllable. Yes, haiku does play around with the required syllables, but when a teacher, I always taught my students to stick to the 5-7-5 syllable count. I think the challenge is a good one and makes writing a haiku a much better one in choosing just the right words for the poem. I don't know Japanese, so I can't speak for writing haiku in that language. Thanks so much for your input. Glad you enjoyed this hub - I didn't know about the monoku until I read on somewhere, I can't even remember where now, but I was fascinated by a one line haiku. Thanks for the visit and for your comments - most appreciated.

Jo Alexis-Hagues from Lincolnshire, U.K on August 04, 2013:

Loved this!!...It's probably time to take Martin's advice and try writing some haiku that are not necessarily 5-7-5. Voting up and sharing.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on August 04, 2013:

Great work! Many people are confused about haiku.

This haiku by Bashō illustrates that he was not always constrained to a 5-7-5 on pattern. It contains 18 on in the pattern 6-7-5 ("ō" or "おう" is treated as two on.)

富士の風や扇にのせて江戸土産

ふじのかぜやおうぎにのせてえどみやげ

fuji no kaze ya ōgi ni nosete Edo miyage[citation needed]

This separates into "on" as:

fu-ji no ka-ze ya (6)

o-o-gi ni no-se-te (7)

e-do mi-ya-ge (5)

Translated:

the wind of Mt. Fuji

I've brought on my fan!

a gift from Edo

Taken from wikipedia

Faith Reaper from southern USA on August 03, 2013:

Very beautiful hub here on haiku / monoku poetry! Imagery is stunning.

Voted up ++++ and sharing

Blessings, Faith Reaper

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on August 03, 2013:

Interesting and informative hub. I never knew a monoku existed till I read your hub, thank you for sharing and voted up.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on August 03, 2013:

Thank you for sharing this information in such a beautiful way. I want to try writing my first Monoku. May I send it to you before I publish it to make sure I've done this correctly?

Voted up UABI and sharing. Thanks ~ Audrey

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on August 03, 2013:

Voted up and beautiful. The pictures were lovely. Thank you for explaining the Monoku. Passing this on.

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