Essays

This is a place to think. I’ve written essays on many different topics, long and short, of which the following are a majority, focusing mostly on haiku and related genres of poetry. I’ve arranged the following essays by category, with a few essays listed in more than one category. For additional essays, please visit the Interviews, Introductions, Reports, Reviews, and Speeches pages, and see my Déjà-ku Diary blog. See also Further Reading, Postscripts, and Not Previously Published. +

“The skill of writing is creating a context in which other people can think.” —Edwin Schlossberg


★ = most recommended (start with these essays)

Have a question about haiku? Email Michael Dylan Welch and I’ll respond with a personal answer, or a suggested essay to read. This site has many essays to consider, so don’t hesitate to ask for reading guidance, to ask questions about haiku, or to offer your comments.

Recent Additions (with dates added)

Quiet Souls (remembering Cid Corman) (26 September 2022)

Tsunamis, Santōka, and Cid (26 September 2022)

Celebrating 20 Years of National Poetry Month (14 September 2022)

Visual plus Poetry plus Zines (29 August 2022)

Four Classic Haiku (23 June 2022)

Common Wisdom: Learning Haiku from Heraclitus (2 June 2022)

Notes on Gendai Haiku (see also Haiku 21 Reviewed) (28 May 2022)

Haiku and the Art of Forest Bathing (26 May 2022)

The Honkadori Revisited: Have I Read this Before? Déjà vu in Haiku by Hans Jongman (17 May 2022; with my new postscript)

Pronouncing Kireji and Senryu (24 March 2022)

Grit, Grace, and Gold (22 March 2022; my review of a book by Kit Pancoast Nagamura)

Defining Moments (2 March 2022)

Bombs or Balms: The Nonhaiku of Bob Kaufman (24 February 2022)

If it’s February . . . it must be NaHaiWriMo (8 February 2022)

Haiku Seeds, with video (21 January 2022)

Bird Music (12 January 2022, on Déjà-ku Diary blog)

Three Haiku Sequences (11 January 2022)

The Midwest Can Claim to Be Me (6 January 2022)

Judges’ Comments on the 2015 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational (4 January 2022)

Anxieties of Influence: Learning Haiku from Harold Bloom (26 December 2021)

Buson’s Butterfly and Shiki’s Firefly (7 December 2021, on Déjà-ku Diary blog)

The Unbroken Circle: Spontaneous Similarity (9 October 2021, on Déjà-ku Diary blog)

The Heft of Haiku (7 July 2021)

Lorine Niedecker’s Haiku Library (5 March 2021)

Curing Poetic Loneliness with Rengay (29 January 2021, on Rengay website)

Learning Haiku

A Definition of Haiku

Becoming a Haiku Poet

The Burning Word: Getting Started with Haiku

Choosing Your Target: Process and Product in Haiku

Commentary on “Birthday Lunch at the Cubee Pub” (by Joanna Preston)

Defining Haiku: A Place to Start (on the Living Haiku Anthology)

Defining “Publication” on the Internet

Desert Heat: A Haiku Revision

Dipping Your Toe into the Haiku Pond

The Discipline of Haiku

Even in Seattle: An Introduction to Haiku Poetry

The Frame of Haiku: Awareness of Daily Life

Go-Shichi-Go: How Japanese and English Syllables Differ

Haibun: Definitions of Light

Haiku and the Japanese Garden [also available in Punjabi translation]

Haiku Checklist

Haiku Friends Commentary

Haiku in a Nutshell

Haiku Seeds, with video

Haiku . . . Under the Bedsheets: Juxtaposition and Seasonal Reference

The Heart of Haiku

The Heft of Haiku

How I Came to Haiku [first publication here]

In the Eye of the Beholder: Haiku Interpretation

An Invitation to Spring Haiku

Japan’s Smallest Export

Jump Into Haiku

Making the Poem Personal

Museum of Haiku Literature Awards: A Retrospective Selection

Next Steps with Haiku

Notepad Walking

Notes on Haiku Capitalization and Punctuation

Notes on Japanese Forms [definitions of haiku, senryu, haibun, haiga, rengay, renku, and tanka]

On Writing Haiku [54 comments, rules, and suggestions on the writing of haiku]

The Practical Poet: Be Your Own Editor

The Practical Poet: Creating a Haiku Checklist

The Practical Poet: Tracking Your Haiku Submissions

The Practical Poet: On the Art of Writing

Pronunciation Guide for Names of Haiku Poets

Punctuation in Haiku

Recommended Books on Haiku

Sparks: Haiku Writing Exercise #1

Sparks: Haiku Writing Exercise #2

Sparks: Haiku Writing Exercise #3

The Urban Myth of 5-7-5

What Is a Syllable?

Why I Write Haiku: Because It’s There

Why “No 5-7-5”? [on my NaHaiWriMo site]


“Learning From” Essays

A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste: Learning from Ezra Pound [first publication here]

Amen to Life: Learning from the Haiku Mind of Samuel Menashe

Anxieties of Influence: Learning Haiku from Harold Bloom

Arriving Geese: Learning from Shugyō Takaha

Common Wisdom: Learning Haiku from Heraclitus

Dripping Rain: Learning Haiku from Shunryu Suzuki

Going Nowhere: Learning Haiku from Pico Iyer

A Haiku Writer’s Time: Learning from Kenneth Atchity

The ISN’Ts of Haiku: Learning from Lorraine Ellis Harr [first publication here]

The Mysticism of Ordinary Experience: Learning Haiku from James P. Carse

Poems About Nothing: Learning Haiku from Antonio Porchia

Politics and the English-Language Haiku: Learning from George Orwell

Private and Public Vision: Learning Haiku from Joyce Carol Oates

Ringing the Bell: Learning Haiku from Mary Ruefle

Skywriting: Learning Haiku from Annie Dillard

Spiritual Freedom: Learning from Wassily Kandinsky


Studying Haiku

Aha Moments and the Miracle of Haiku

The Anthologist and Bogus Haiku

Authenticity in Haiku

Beat Haiku and My Discussion with Jack Foley [see latter half for my contributions] + +

Bombs or Balms: The Nonhaiku of Bob Kaufman

The Closed Door: A Correspondence on Haiku

A Deeper Attention: Foreword to The Haiku Apprentice (Abigail Friedman)

Defining Haiku by Iterations [first publication here]

Defining Moments

Featured Poet [biographical sketch and six poems]

Feeling Haiku Through Thin Wood Walls (David Patneaude)

Finding My Way to Haiku

Finding the Sky

Four Classic Haiku

Frequently Asked Questions About Haiku Northwest [on Haiku Northwest site]

Fresh Seeing on the International Appalachian Trail: Foreword to Border Crossings (Ian Marshall)

Fuji Over the Clouds: The Dangers of Travel Haiku

Grit, Grace, and Gold (my review of a book by Kit Pancoast Nagamura)

Haibun: Aims and Problems

Haiku and the Art of Forest Bathing

Haiku as History: The Ultimate Short Story

Haiku as Poetic Spell [by Martin Lucas; includes extensive commentary by me and the author]

Haiku Form and Content

The Haiku Gatekeeper: An Interview with Robert Spiess

Haiku Missionary: An Annotated Response to Alan Watts’ “Haiku” [first publication here]

Haiku Neighbours: North American Haiku Today [keynote address for 2013 Haiku International Association]

The Haiku Sensibilities of E. E. Cummings

Haiku That Changed My Life

Haiku . . . The Smallest Talk

Haiku Stances

Home for Christmas

Hopes for American Haiku [on The Haiku Foundation blog]

How Do You Write Haiku?

The Identity of Haiku

If it’s February . . . it must be NaHaiWriMo

In Response to a Poetix Book Review

Into Being: Thought About Haiku

Johnny Baranski: A Poet of Conviction

Judge’s Comments on the 2010 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

Judge’s Comments on the 2015 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational

Kana

Knowing the Poet

Laughing with Karumi

Linking and Leaping: A Haiga Primer [with German translation]

Little Catastrophes: The Topological Structure of Humor and Haiku

A Look to the Future of Haiku in English

Lorine Niedecker’s Haiku Library

The Matsuyama Declaration: An Annotated Analysis [first publication here]

Metaphor in Haiku

The Middle Way: Paul O. Williams’ Essays on Haiku (Paul O. Williams)

Missing the Moon: Haikuless Haibun

A Moment in the Sun: When Is a Haiku?

The neon buddha attends his first haikucon (short story)

Notes on Gendai Haiku (see also Haiku 21 Reviewed”)

Notes on Teaching Haiku

Objective and Subjective Assessments of Modern Haiga

On a First-Name Basis: Deepening Haiku with its “Fourth Line”

One-Part Haiku

On the Art of Writing Haiku [first publication here]

The “Ordinary” Haiku Poet

Poet’s Market Definitions

Problems and Challenges of International Haiku [first publication here]

Quiet Souls (remembering Cid Corman)

Recognizing Influences: The Unswept Path

Remembering Bill Higginson

A Sample Haiku Lesson Plan

A Sampling of Cultural Haiku

Sandlot Haiku and the Democracy of the Internet [first publication here]

Savouring Salvage [first publication here]

Sax Riffs and the Art of Tensaku

The Scorpion Prize—Roadrunner

The Seed of Wonder: An Antidote to Haiku Inflation

Three Haiku Sequences

Seeing Into the Heart: Vulnerability in Haiku

A Short History of Haiku in California [on Haiku Society of America site]

A Short History of Haiku in Washington [on Haiku Society of America site] +

Simplicity and Obscurity: Crossing the Haiku Rubicon

Striking Gold: The American Haiku Archive [first publication here]

A Survey of Today’s English-Language Haiku Activity [first publication here]

A Survey of Haibun Definitions: Introduction to Wedge of Light

Taking a Bite: The Haiku McMoment

Taking the Ordinary Seriously

A Talk with the Author: Lee Gurga

Ten Ways to Improve Your Poetry with Haiku

The Territory of Haiku (see German translation, Das Territorium des Haiku)

Thirteen Ways of Reading Haiku

This Perfect Rose: The Lasting Legacy of William J. Higginson

Three Hokku by E. E. Cummings

Traditional and Modern Haiku: A Vibrant Dichotomy

Translation as Treason

Twelve Weathergrams

Unfolding Destiny: Harold G. Henderson’s The Bamboo Broom

Up with Season Words

Voices

Watch Your Its

Where Do Your Haiku Begin?

The Wriggling Koi [a short story]

Zen and the Art of Direct Seeing: Cultivating the Haiku Moment


Studying Senryu

Arrows in the Quiver: An Interview on Senryu

The Difference Between Haiku and Senryu

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Haiku and Senryu But Were Too Busy Writing to Ask


Japanese Haiku

Arriving Geese: Learning from Shugyō Takaha

Buson or Shiki: The True Authorship of the “Two Autumns” Poem

First Snow on Daffodils: Writing Reality

For the Love of Issa

Go-Shichi-Go: How Japanese and English Syllables Differ

Issa’s Joy

Japan’s Smallest Export

Questioning Haiku: A Shiki Manifesto

Sōseki, not Buson: Attributing the White Chrysanthemum

Touching the Moon: Twenty-Four Shikishi

The Weather-Beaten Jizō: Shikoku Pilgrimage Haiku by Shūji Niwano


Déjà-ku Essays

An Introduction to Déjà-ku

Selected Examples of Déjà-ku [first publication here]

Some Thoughts on Déjà-ku [first publication here]

A Spade’s a Spade: Plagiarism and Déjà-ku

The Honkadori Revisited: Have I Read this Before? Déjà vu in Haiku by Hans Jongman

See also my Déjà-ku Diary blog [with numerous essays, listed below] +


Déjà-ku Diary (blog essays, most recent listed first)

Bird Music

Buson’s Butterfly and Shiki’s Firefly

The Unbroken Circle: Spontaneous Similarity

Honkadori, or Allusive Variation

Dying to Visit a Graveyard

Watching Haiku: People

Watching Haiku: Other Creatures

Watching Haiku: Cats

How Attribution Becomes Plagiarism

A Pattern of Plagiarism

Do Not Resuscitate: A Case of Haiku Similarity

Similar Saturdays

Make It Yours

“Haikus are Easy” . . . to Plagiarize

Open Arms

Revision Process Revealed?

Finding Sources

Ringing the Changes

Celebrating Shared Subjects


Appreciating Haiku

Approaching Infinity: A Favourite Haiku (Christopher Herold)

Beauty in Haiku (Kaneko Tohto)

Comments on Frogpond, Summer 2003

Comments on Frogpond, Autumn 2003

Comments on Frogpond, Winter 2006

Comments on Frogpond, Winter 2011

Comments on Frogpond, Winter 2013

Dojin’s Corner, Geppo, Spring 2018

Late Fall (Francine Porad)

The Frayed Rope (Jane Reichhold)

Heat Wave (Carole MacRury)

Issa’s Joy (Issa)

Misreading Haiku (Roberta Beary)

Nine Joys (David Lloyd) [first publication here]

Set in Stone (John Stevenson) [first publication here]

Subjective Touches (John Stevenson)

Three Ironside Haiku (Hamish Ironside)

Two Favourite Haiku by Jerry Kilbride (Jerry Kilbride)


Rengay (most links lead to my Rengay website)

An Invitation to Rengay

Breaking Through Novelty: A Survey of Invented Forms of Linked Poetry

Curing Poetic Loneliness with Rengay

Give Rengay a Try

How to Present a Rengay [first publication here]

How to Write a Rengay (with Italian translations)

The Place of Rengay in Tanka Journals

Rengay (Haikupedia overview, with extensive links and bibliography)

Rengay: An Introduction

Rengay: Its Birth and Growth

Rengay Clarified

Rengay Markets

Rengay: A Status Report

Rengay Worksheets

Seven Fundamentals: A Guide to Rengay for Editors [first publication here]

1995 Haiku Poets of Northern California Rengay Contest (judge’s comments)

2002 Haiku Poets of Northern California Rengay Contest (judge’s comments)

2006 Haiku Poets of Northern California Rengay Contest (judge’s comments)


Other Linked Poetry

An Introduction to Tan-Renga [first publication here]

Linked Verse Courtesies: Seven Proposed Rules of Conduct

Three Haiku Sequences


Tanka

A Chat About Tanka

Directions in Tanka

Castles in the Sand Introduction

Coming Into Our Own: The Tanka Society of America’s Fifteenth Anniversary [published version]

Coming Into Our Own: The Tanka Society of America’s Fifteenth Anniversary [longer version]

Feathers and Fire: Growing into Tanka

From Chord to Melody: Defining Tanka in English

How Long Is a Tanka?

In Praise of Whatnots: Foreword to These Audacious Maples

Introduction to Footsteps in the Fog

Member’s Choice Tanka Commentary

Modern Tanka in Japan

My Journey into Tanka

The Seed of the Human Heart: Writing Tanka

Surveying Recent Tanka Criticism

Take Your Turn at Tanka

Tanka and the Five W’s

Tanka: A Poetry of Change

Tanka Elbow Room

Tanka: The Endless Stream

Tanka Monday Report (2019)

A Tanka Turning Point: The Tanka Society of America “Tanka Day” (2003)

What Is Tanka?

Why Do We Write Tanka?

Why Say More? The Problem of Titling Tanka


Appreciating Tanka

A Dish of a Tanka: Autumn Noelle Hall

Cool Afternoon: James B. Peters

Down the Distant Mountain

A Favourite Tanka: Zane Parks

A Favourite Tanka: Brian Tasker

A Favourite Tanka: George Swede

Four Favourite Tanka: Anna Holley and Aya Yuhki


E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings—Not for Mostpeople [first publication here]

The Haiku Sensibilities of E. E. Cummings

Occasional Cummings

Three Hokku by E. E. Cummings

The Tiny Room: The Jottings of E. E. Cummings

Trains to Moscow: A Comparison of Lewis Carroll’s Russian Journal and E. E. Cummings’ Eimi


Other Essays

Alice’s Chain of Thought [first publication here]

Building a Suburban Poetry Community

Celebrating 20 Years of National Poetry Month

Cream Rises: Lana Hechtman Ayers in Service of Poetry

Different Ways to Visit Japan

First Trip to Japan [first publication here]

How Graceguts Got Started

Industrial-Strength Publishing at Aeroject and Eikon [about me]

The Midwest Can Claim to Be Me

Obscure Musical Passions

Open Books: Seattle’s Thriving Bookstore for Poets

Poetential: Notes on The Virgin of Bennington [first publication here]

Poetry Writing Prompt

Redmond’s New Poet Laureate

Sunrise Tower: A Proposal for Sammamish

Tracking Your Poetry Submissions

Tsunamis, Santōka, and Cid

What Makes a Great Chapbook?

What’s In a Name? Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders of Poetry [first publication here]

Writing Love Poems [with one haiku]

Visual plus Poetry plus Zines


Humour and Satire

Haikuholics Anonymous

Ku-ku: Because You Can’t Get Enough Haiku

25 Random Things About Me

50 Questions

Movie Studios to Decolorize Color Movie Classics

Toilet Seat Up or Down?