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)

    Habits of Haiku Scrutiny (4 May 2024)

    Haiku Checklist in Swedish (translated by Marcus Liljedahl) (28 April 2024)

    Learning Haiku from Anna, and Maybe Mister God (27 February 2024)

    Haiku Gratitude (29 January 2024)

Countering Songs: Haiku Opposites (29 December 2023, on Déjà-ku Diary blog)

    2023 Seabeck Haiku Getaway Invitation (24 November 2023)

    On Rejection (14 August 2023)

    Going to Gengorō: Senryu Dichotomies (20 June 2023)

Animated by Hope  [about my favourite word; first publication here] (21 May 2023)

    Defining Haiku: A Place to Start (30 April 2023)

    Why I Take Photographs (20 April 2023)

    Woodnotes Triveni Spotlight (2 February 2023)

    Japan-Think, Ameri-Think, Haiku, and You (13 January 2023)

    A Journal of Friends (13 January 2023)

    A Short History of Woodnotes (10 January 2023)

    The Haiku Life (10 January 2023)

Harold Henderson’s Grammar Haiku (3 January 2023)

Points of Growth: Learning Haiku Truth from Louise Glück (20 November 2022)

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)

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

    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

    Habits of Haiku Scrutiny

    Haibun: Definitions of Light

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

Haiku Checklist [also available in Swedish translation]

    Haiku Friends Commentary

    Haiku in a Nutshell

    The Haiku Life

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

    Japan-Think, Ameri-Think, Haiku, and You

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 Rejection

    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]

    Learning Haiku from Anna, and Maybe Mister God

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

Poems About Nothing: Learning Haiku from Antonio Porchia

Points of Growth: Learning Haiku Truth from Louise Glück

    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 Gratitude

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

Harold Henderson’s Grammar Haiku

    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

    A Journal of Friends

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

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


    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

    Remembering Randal Johnson [on Haiku Northwest website]

    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

    A Short History of Woodnotes

    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

    2023 Seabeck Haiku Getaway Invitation

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

Up with Season Words


    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

    Going to Gengorō: Senryu Dichotomies

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)

    Haiku Conversations: Ben Gaa’s One Breath

Countering Songs: Haiku Opposites

    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


    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]

Animated by Hope  [about my favourite word; 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]

    Why I Take Photographs

    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?

A note about versions: Some of the preceding essays may exist in multiple versions. The versions here on Graceguts may differ slightly from the original published versions, but I consider Graceguts versions to be definitive, containing sometimes slight or extensive updates as well as corrections. The versions on my computer may also not include all the changes present on Graceguts. To throw a monkey wrench into any privileging of Graceguts versions, there may be rare necessary exceptions. Likewise, writers who might quote these essays may need or prefer to cite the original publication, but I hope any such quotations will not ignore possible corrections or revisions of my opinions.