Sunday, January 10, 2010

Higginson on the one-line haiku

A seminal essay from the late William J. Higginson on the 1-liner was published in SimplyHaiku, Fall 2004. He defines four basic types, the latter being more a failure than a class of the genre:
  1. One-Stroke Haiku. Those that seem to drive the reader instantly from one end to the other, without a pause for reflection or even noticing the grammar involved.
  2. Classical-Style One-Line Haiku. Those that have a classic haiku rhythm, dividing easily into three phrases, often with the middle one longer, as do traditional Japanese and three-line haiku in other languages, but which may benefit from being read all at once—as the authors apparently intend. I consider these borderline cases between one-stroke haiku and the following group, but notice that the classical style allows for more play with the internal rhythms of a haiku than may usually be found in a three-line poem.
  3. Multiple-Meaning One-Line Haiku. Those that may have a classic haiku rhythm, but which also offer the reader a number of syntactic elements, allowing for different interpretations of the poem according to how the reader decides to follow the poem's movement.
  4. Multi-Line Haiku Written on One Line. Those that include a marked stop or pause, and which therefore are not true one-line haiku in my sense of the term. They usually include extra space between two or more sections, or punctuation marking a grammatical shift, or some other substitute for a line-break.

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