Haiku is of course not native to Britain; nor for that matter were the ode or the sonnet, to mention just two "imports" into English poetry.

Seamus Heaney

...when native traditions are rejuvenated by what we now call ‘the shock of the new’, it is often through contact with a foreign culture that the new possibilities suggest themselves.
Seamus Heaney,
“Our Shared Japan”, 2007


Imports contribute to vitality in poetry. But, like a plant from an exotic climate, an imported poetic form is not simply transplanted, it inevitably undergoes some changes, by way of experimental cultivars, before it is assimilated into a new host's culture. So Elizabethan poets adapted Petrarch's Italian sonnet to create the English or Shakespearean sonnet. Haiku, originating in Japan, is in the process of assimilation here.

Western haiku poets have had to modify or even abandon some features of standard Japanese haiku to create a form to suit our language and culture.

Bashō's ‘frogpond’ haiku as a vertical poem (tanzaku), with the season word (kireji) and number of ‘Japanese syllables’ highlighted

Features of a standard Japanese haiku

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Original portraits of quoted poets by Graham High. Website designed by Thomas Cobb.