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NaPoWriMo Poetry Prompt 8: Hello Haibun

Sarah and Jeff Boyle

Haibun: Haiku+

Difficulty level: 4/5

A haibun is a traditional Japanese poetic form. It starts with a short paragraph about a place or a journey. This paragraph should include a TON of imagery: what did you see, hear, taste, touch, smell? And it concludes with a haiku. A haiku is a three-line poem with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the final line. This haiku comments on the paragraph in some way.

In the words of Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Haibun combines a prose poem with a haiku. The haiku usually ends the poem as a sort of whispery and insightful postscript to the prose of the beginning of the poem. Another way of looking at the form is thinking of haibun as highly focused testimony or recollection of a journey composed of a prose poem and ending with a meaningful murmur of sorts: a haiku. The result is a very elegant block of text with the haiku serving as a tiny bowl or stand for the prose poem. A whole series of them in a manuscript look like neat little signs or flags—a visual delight.

 Read the rest of Nezhukumatathil’s thoughts—and some more rules for Haibun—over at

 You probably want an example, so you can see what we're talking about. Click through to check out "The Walk" by Katsuri Jadhav or "Recreating Summer" by Melissa Watkins Star. There are plenty more Haibun at those links, too, over at Contemporary Haibun Online.

What journey do you need to get off your chest? Write it out to learn what it has to teach you.

Have you registered for the Poem-A-Thon yet? Sign up to write poems and raise money for the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council today! And don't forget to send us your poems for publication on this here blog: