Haibun as a literary form really started when Basho, the ‘father’ of haiku set off on a 2,400 km walk through Japan, deliberately straying into the mountains when he could. The travel journals were a mix of prose studded with haiku, and were published titled ‘Narrow Road To The Deep North’. Frankly, it is a wonderful book, and started a very special form of writing.
Let me just state what I personally am looking for in a haibun – and quickly add that I have found much, and more in some of the haibun I have read through in our challenge.
The first thing I look to see if the writer was at the scene or not him or herself. The scene may be a memory, or a plan, merely witnessed or interacted with, or a mix of many or all of those. It is not a story, though is a narrative. Personally I find it hard to read a haibun not interacting with nature. Indeed, an emphasis on emotion and not imagery is something that does not work in a haibun as a whole. Remember that with the prose comes one or more haiku, and they must relate – when they do it is wonderful reading, but those who write a beautiful prose and don’t carefully tie it together with a powerful haiku miss something, I think.
I do very much see haibun coming in a series, rather like a diary, so would accordingly expect each haibun written by a given writer not be completely and totally separate from the one before. But if you are writing about your thoughts, actions, journey or a period in your life this seems logical to me.
The above looks difficult, but in fact we are not talking about a story with a twist here – at all, though a moment of discovery or epiphany in a haibun fits very well.
The haibun finishes with a haiku. If there is more than one haiku, it is nice to have some prose between the two.
Here’s accordingly what I personally am looking for in a haiku as part of a haibun.
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|In Narrow Road to the Deep North, Basho claimed the art and heart of haibun as his with his reflective writing, awareness and sharp imagery.While seen as a classical form in Japan, haibun has seen a revival over the past decade in English. I have seen a few websites promoting haibun, and advising the style one must adopt to undertake such writing. While I applaud each writer’s sincerity and efforts to publicise this wonderful art form, I question advice suggesting what style of writing a haibun must have. In fact, it is just plain wrong.People should write their haibun in the way they like to write. However, I do think that the register of the language used, not the style is important. There is a difference. I’ve put some points below about haibun – some are my opinions. I’m not saying which!
I’ll recap here now-
The haibun finishes with a haiku or other short verse,
Join us at our Līgo Haībun Challenge.