The haiku is perhaps the most celebrated form of micro poetry that has evolved the most over the centuries since the great Haiku master Matsuo Basho created the form in the early 17th century. Many variations of haiku exist and often people think they have penned a haiku when more often than not, they miss the essence of a haiku.

According to the classic haiku poets of Japan, haiku should “present the reader with an observation of a natural, commonplace event, in the simplest words, without verbal trickery. The effect of haiku is one of ‘sparseness’. It’s a momentary snatch from time’s flow, crystallized and distilled. Nothing more.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Haiku and Senryu. The major confusion appears to be centred around the difference between the Haiku and Senryu. Both have 17 syllables, but the former always has a “kigo” (seasonal word) and is written about nature, while the latter is an expression of human emotions and has no kigo. Both have a “kireji” (a cutting word) though there is no English equivalent of kireji.

Then there are, of course, the Haiga and the haibun. Haiga is simply a haiku accompanied by a picture (the syllable “ga” means picture in Japanese). As for the Haibun, it’s a combination of prose and poetry (haiku).

Haiku Analogues

The word ‘analog’, in the context of syllabic poetry, means two or more forms of poetry that share an overall syllable count, but that differ in how those syllables are distributed over the lines of the poem.

Now that the difference has been established, the variations of a 17-syllabic poem derived from the Haiku form needs to be looked into: 

Monoku: A Senryu/haiku with one continuous line of seventeen syllables, often with a pivotal word or phrase shared by two phrases to create a sense of enigma/ambiguity. A ceaesura (pause) may be appropriate, dictated by sense or speech rhythm,and usually very little punctuation

Examples of monoku:

1. There is no room big enough in my heart my love is so limitless (in Senryu)

2. There was no moon that night the frost seemed to have monopolized the sky. ((In Haiku), with ‘frost’ being the “kigo” or seasonal word to denote winter)

In both the examples above, the bold italicized texts are the pivotal words/phrases that are shared by the phrases preceding and following them each.

Crystallines: Two lines, seventeen syllables, divided into 9-8 or 8-9.


Love is the only thing that IS

All else is what was or what could have been

Haiku Prime: Four lines, seventeen syllables, distributed as follows: 2-3-5-7.


The birds

are singing

sweet songs of romance

Oh! my heart blooms with desire

(‘Bloom’ is the “kigo” here denoting Spring as is the birds singing)


Five lines, seventeen syllables, distributed as follows: 2-3-4-6-2. A primary concern for the cinqku is the effective use of the line break.



no escape

strange deep abyss –

struggling to understand

my heart


Note: All the pieces above have been penned by Emotional Spaces.

©Emotional Spaces 2016

All rights reserved.