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Friday, February 15, 2008

Graves . . .

waiting for visitors. Like sentries.
Erect, hard and tough. The new recruits
easy to spot. Sharp-cut letters and numbers.
A grit of stone to the touch. Clean, some shiny,
unworn, unweathered. Among them the old salts,
the short-timers, the lifers. They crumble, they lean.

fallen headstone the letters fill with rain


w. f. owen
(haiku notebook, p. 13)

This is an excerpt from my book that is a haibun--a piece of prose
along with at least one haiku. The meanings of each interplay and
enrich the overall effect readers get. The idea is to be an opening
of meaning potentials, rather than to give a story ending. I
suppose in this way haibun are different from the structure
of short stories. The latter seem to offer more
closure than haibun. So, if reading a haibun leaves
you wondering or thinking--perhaps even needing
to return to the written piece again and again--that
is an effective work.

Some writers, including myself, enjoy the larger canvas
provided by haibun. The prose or narrative allow more vivid
language and even metaphors, which generally are not
permitted among most modern haiku. (Of course, there
are exceptions to every rule. I am asserting a general norm
here). However, at least one haiku--a good haiku--is needed
to pull together an effective haibun. So, in my various editorial
roles, I recommend writers first "master" haiku. (Can you ever
truly "master" anything?).

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