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The usual way we find new 'rules' is by reading the work of others and deciding for ourselves what works as a ku or what we admire. Consciously or unconsciously we begin to imitate the style that 'rule' creates. Usually we stay with a 'rule' until we find a new one to replace it. Because there are so many rules, we all have different set with which we are working. By carefully reading a magazine like Frogpond, you can see which 'rules' the editor is accepting by the haiku printed. That does not mean 'this' is the only way towrite a haiku.

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Occasionally a haiku is written that is so full of possible divisions into what is the fragment or the phrase that writing it in one line is the only way that offers the reader the complete freedom to find the breaks. And with each new arrangement the meaning of the poem varies. An examplewould be:


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Nowadays, if Mom doesn't ever serve fish for dinner atleast the kids get a taste of haiku in grade school. For mostof us, our first introduction came from reading translationsfrom the Japanese which is a bit like comparing sushi tofrozen fish sticks. Even with the knowledge of the exotic,most poets remain solidly with the meat and potatoes ofEnglish literature. It often isn't until we get older that weaccept the simple goodness and benefits of fish, adding themto the menu a little more often; maybe even buying abook.


7. Write what can be said in one breath.

12. Have two images that are only associative when illuminated by the third image. Example: fire-white halo / atthe moment of eclipse / I notice your face

8. Use a season word (kigo) or seasonal reference.

As soon as you get proficient (you will notice your haiku all sound alike) it's time to raise the tennis net by picking a new rule or so, either from this list or one you've made up from reading and admiring other haiku, or, and this ispossible and not treason, from other poetry genre.

10. Never have all three lines make a complete or run-onsentence.

13. Have two images that are only in contrast when illuminated by the third image. Example: two things ready /but not touching the space between / fire

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21. Study the order in which the images are presented. First the wide-angle view, medium range and zoomed in close-up. (Thanks to George Price for thisclarification!)

14. Always written in the present tense of here andnow.

But first he said, "Learn the rules." If you are at that stage of the game (we are all, at all times, students), here are some old and new rules. You can't physically follow all of these, because they conflict, but among them I would hope you'd pick a set just for you. Then write down your thoughts, impressions, and feelings whilefollowing your own rules.

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