Modern Haiku

Although traditional Japanese haiku adheres to strict form and meter principles and is bare of poetic adornments, modern haiku has extended the poetry form to fit the life and time of today. Modern haiku is sometimes looked down upon for its lax syllable count, use of metaphors, similes and rhyme, and unnatural images as its central focus. Modern haiku is also often described as the poet’s direct experience of the world. However, it is hard to say whether the original masters of haiku would have focused so deeply on maintaining the tradition of the form or the simplicity with which it conveys what it expresses. Instead, it is surely possible that they may have considered the essence of the finished product more important. In this way, haiku has not changed much from the days of medieval Japan. The essence of one moment of wisdom captured within a few, short lines is still what inspires writers and draws audiences from around the world. Modern haiku does not adhere to the basic 5-7-5 syllable, or morae, principle because different languages have different phonetics. Syllables are not always the same length in every language and therefore, can be adjusted. These adjustments aim towards the traditional haiku model but in their own ways. Syllables are sometimes even shortened to one syllable per line, with only two lines. These modern haiku usually involve an image and a response to that image. Modern haiku does not always include a nature word to give itself a setting. Instead, any word or phrase that corresponds to a location is often employed. There is also much humor to be found in the traditional Japanese work of the old masters along with modern haiku. Sarcasm and irony are tools that modern writers enjoy implementing within their haiku. Although haiku enthusiasts irritably disagree on a common definition for modern haiku, the main idea to remember is that the spirit of the haiku is what ultimately survives within the mind, and heart, of the reader.

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