No Rules Haiku and Tanka……

Marsh Grass 3


Something New!  Over at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai Chevrefeuille is running a no rules challenge.  Like Basho said: “Learn the Rules, then immediately forget them and write from the heart.  Unfortunately, most modern haiku and tanka writers don’t LEARN the rules.  LOL!  These are rather free for all pieces, with kigo words, etc.  Nope, couldn’t do it. Once you learn something about writing haiku and tanka, it’s damn hard to do it without kigo.

Lady Nyo

Haiku….with kigo.

I chase one red leaf

Across dry and brittle grass

Juice of summer gone.

Frosty autumn night

The moon glides through chilly dreams

Red Maple stands sentry.


These next five are haiku without kigo.  


Under the dark moon

I awaited your return

Only shadows came.

The moon, a ghostly

Sliver, sails on a jet sea

Wild dogs howl beneath.

The soil our bed

Our classroom and our graves.

Reborn to the world.

Childhood is tough

Adults are the enemy

Kids fodder for wars


Such a fragile thing.

Child’s salvation

Tanka…. With kigo….

Autumn wind startles–
Lowered to an ominous
Key—Ah! Mournful sounds!
The fat mountain deer listen-
Add their bellowing sorrow.

I wander the fields

Snow covers the barren soil

Sharp wind plays pan pipes

A murder of crows huddle

Black laughing fruit hang from limbs 

(Kigo word is interesting.  Using snow as a kigo is rather obvious.  Kigo should infer a season.  Snow hits you over the head.)


And one without….

How could I forget
The beauty of the pale moon!
A face of sorrow
Growing thin upon the tide
Pulls my heart within its light.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017


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9 Responses to “No Rules Haiku and Tanka……”

  1. petrujviljoen Says:

    Jane, I think your haiku is nature based with some definite kigo. The red leaf, summer, etc. A joy to read though.The first tanka also has kigo ie autumn wind – a stunning tanka. Loved the third one too.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    thanks, Petru. It’s damn hard to get away from kigo. LOL! Yes, I knew it…’s almost impossible to write without kigo if you have been trained in it. LOL! Thanks for reading.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ladynyo Says:

    I will try again to write without kigo….though once it;s in the brain pan, it’s hard to not do.


  4. petrujviljoen Says:

    I looked up the poet mentioned on the Carpe Diem site, Santoka Taneda and that helped. Thanks for posting this, I would’ve missed it otherwise. Busy deciding what to do myself.


  5. ladynyo Says:

    well, I added some haiku without kigo…at least I didn’t ‘see’ any kigo. LOL! But what is the point of it? It was hard enough to learn to discern and use kigo….and now not? LOL. I’ll look up Santoka Taneda.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. petrujviljoen Says:

    I learnt the 5-7-5 classic haiku and it was hard breaking from it. I wonder if English has a rhythm different to Japanese? Seems to be important to how a haiku is composed re amount of syllables used.


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Well, this is what I have found out about tanka and haiku in Japanese and the translation into English: Japanese haiku (also tanka ) can run 3-4-3-4-4 or different combinations. Lots of reasons for this. And, every sentence, word ends in a vowel.l

    I don’t break from the 5/7/5/77 form. I find that a little more ‘room’ in English makes it easier for English writers to compose. I was taught that tanka is expelled in two breaths, in a monotone, and haiku is one breath. So, breath is as important as syllables used. Look for Japanese tanka and haiku in the written language….and even if your words are not quite sounding Japanese, you can pick up the rhythm very easily. Arthur Waley was a good one for trying to keep the classical form in his translations.


  8. petrujviljoen Says:

    Oh wow! Well done. I also like more room to ‘breathe’ in the 5-7-5 form. Perhaps the discipline of the 3-4-3 form will be good for one? I wonder. Thanks for this.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    you can try it, but it can end up stilted in the mouths of English writers. Japanese have such a different language structure, and there are no articles mostly. English writers do the 3/4 version because they think it sounds ‘Oriental’. LOL! Clipped speech. I think one should venture into the 3-4-3 form only if one reads Japanese. But then again, this is just an opinion. I’m sure there are many successful English haiku written in this shorter form.

    Liked by 1 person

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