Our conception of haiku?

The publishers of Brooks Books promote a view of haiku as a literary genre. As part of the haikai arts originating in Japan, haiku has its own historical traditions. Haiku are not written by definitions or rules. They are acts of consciousness—written out of literary habits of awareness and observation and meditation and imagination and contemplation.

We reject the view of haiku as a closed poetic form consisting of five-seven-five syllables. Haiku come in a wide variety of forms including one line, visual, three line, two line, four line, free-form and syllabic form. The essential element of form in English-language haiku is that each haiku is a short one-breath poem that usually contains a juxtaposition of images. Each haiku usually has a break—a contemplative pause or slight breath in the middle—which makes it a deliberately incomplete literary artifact, prompting the reader to make a leap of imagination in order to complete the moment begun by the poet.

The best haiku capture human perception—moments of being alive conveyed through sensory images. They do not explain nor describe nor provide philosophical or political commentary. Haiku are not declarative sentences. They are fragmented images or often a fragment and phrase. Haiku are gifts of the here and now, deliberately incomplete so that the reader can enter into the haiku moment to open the gift and experience the feelings and insights of that moment for his or her self.

The haiku community has matured beyond the beginner’s need for definitions and rules. We celebrate the diversity of the haiku genre that is rich and strong only to the extent that there is a wide range of practice, a surprising freshness of voices and perspectives. We embrace and celebrate haiku writers who relish dense language and the naming function of words, haiku writers who live in the woods and tap into the biodiversity of ecosystems there, haiku writers who protest injustice and go to jail, haiku writers who resist the male ego dominance of English, haiku writers who meditate and seek the quiet voice within, haiku writers who celebrate being social and the significance of being in community, haiku writers who are religious within a variety of spiritual traditions, haiku writers who are all about people, haiku writers who write senryu and don’t care about the distinction, haiku writers who are international citizens of the world using haiku to bridge cultures, haiku writers who are so local nobody but friends at the local pub understand them.This diversity of writers and approaches to haiku is the strength and rich surprise of creative elasticity found in this literary genre.

Randy & Shirley Brooks, Editors & Publishers
Brooks Books