I just got into reading haibun. Like, really into it – the way people got into The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad. A couple of months ago I didn’t even know what it was. To me, the word sounded like something you would call an exotic fish, e.g. I’m going haibun fishing this weekend.
It turns out it’s actually a literary form that originated in Japan hundreds of years ago. It’s difficult to sum it up in a few words, but I’ll try. The form combines prose and haiku. Typically, the haiku follows a prose narrative, but that’s not always the case. I’ve seen the haiku sandwiched between two paragraphs, and I’ve seen it appear at the very beginning. I’ve also seen multiple haikus in a single piece. Of course, my experience is limited to English language haibun because I never got around to learning Japanese (slacker).
The thing that is really interesting about this literary form is the relationship between the two distinct components. The haiku isn’t simply appended to the narrative as a festive little garnish – it illuminates some aspect of the prose that wasn’t apparent at first. Sometimes the haiku offers a resolution to the narrative, sometimes it presents an alternative interpretation, or even a refutation. It can add a dose of irony, or humor, or sorrow – anything at all. And if the haibun is extremely well written, the prose and the poetry will unite in a literary symbiosis that will explode your mind.
Haibun is such a fascinating form, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. If you’d like to see what it’s all about, Contemporary Haibun Online, and Haibun Today are two excellent publications. Their archives are free to view, and they offer some great selections.
Of course, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring and try it out. I’ll tell you what – writing haibun is not like taking candy from a baby. It’s more like taking a freshly killed wildebeest from a hungry pride of lions. If you’d like to read one of my early attempts you can find it below. I titled it, Ones and Zeroes. This one has a decidedly Sci Fi feel to it.
Also, if anyone has a haibun they’d like to share with me, let me know. I’d love to read it. And if you like this blog, feel free to let others interested in creative writing know about it.
Take care, and keep writing.
Ones and Zeroes
It’s not just the usual conspiracy theorists wearing tinfoil hats who are talking about this. There are professors from elite universities – people with I.Q.s as big as busses – who believe our entire universe is a simulation being run inside some kind of alien super computer.
They say it’s all numbers – binary code whirring beneath the surface. They say they’ve seen the equations woven into the fabric of our reality. More precisely, the equations are the fabric of our reality, and the rest is only a clever veneer. Your memories, hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, all of it . . . ones and zeroes.
there were some cutbacks
sorry and goodbye