What is Haiku? – Week 1

What is Haiku?

Today we begin a weekly display of members’ responses to the question:
What is haiku? Our hope is that by sharing our responses (definitions,
descriptions, comments, or quotations of wise words by others) we will
achieve a broader and more sympathetic understanding of this poetry we

Quendryth Young (Alstonville, NSW)

‘A haiku is a short poem of traditional Japanese origin which
captures the essence of a moment, finds the extraordinary in the
ordinary, and links nature to human nature.’

Kevin Sharpe (Blue Mountains, NSW) responds:

‘haiku, senryu : of the moment’

Nicholas Barwell (Perth, WA) endorses Harold Stewarts’s definition:

“Haiku try to express what Japanese call Mono No Aware, the
ah!ness of things: a feeling for natural loveliness tinged with a
sadness at its transience.”

Thanks to Quendryth, Kevin and Nicholas for sharing these.
Can you answer THE question in less than forty words.? Then please tell
John Bird at  link removed He is is editing this feature for us.

8 November 2008 Ginko

SA Haiku Group: Ginko Report

The SA Haiku Group met on Saturday 8 November 2008 for a ginko, at the Himeji Garden on South Terrace, Adelaide, with nine haiku poets attending on a windswept and showery morning.

The garden, opened in 1985, was built to symbolize bonds of friendship with Himeji, Sister City of Adelaide and to help the people of Adelaide understand Japanese culture. It blends two classic Japanese styles: the ‘senzui ‘(lake and mountain garden) and the ‘kare senzui’ (dry garden) and contains features which are of profound religious significance to the Japanese people.

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Defining haiku

In 2007 the Australian Haiku Society committee requested John Bird to advise the Society on haiku definition(s) and to try to formulate one that we could adopt, officially, as meaningful for our members and helpful to those new to the genre.

John reports that he has considered many descriptions and definitions of haiku by overseas writers and now wants to understand how Australian poets, at all levels of experience, think about haiku.

He hopes to include some examples of the latter in his published report and would like to share a subset of these on the Australian Haiku Society [HaikuOz] site, if this is agreed to by their authors. If you would like your views to remain anonymous, please say so at the time you submit them. This will be respected.

Haiku are elusive to define. But in attempting to describe them we may come to understand them better. Please don’t feel intimidated that your definition must be academic, or even wise. It’s simply what you think haiku are about that counts. Please send John your personal definition of haiku, whether long-standing or written for this exercise, at: link removed

Please try to restrict your thoughts to 40 words, preferably no more than 25. If you have adopted a published definition written by somebody else, please include all details.

Below are two personal definitions of haiku. You are warmly invited to share yours.

Beverley George
Australian Haiku Society

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Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop – a report

Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop

Sunshine and a light breeze made a perfect day for the Cloudcatchers Haiku Workshop, held in the CWA hall in Ballina, on Sunday 26 October. Eleven poets assembled at 10 am from as far away as Brisbane and Nimbin, with the group comprising both beginners and members of the local ginko group ‘cloudcatchers’. Quendryth Young tutored the workshop, which was supported by a comprehensive booklet of notes and examples. An introductory talk included a respectful outline of the ancient Japanese origin of the genre, followed by discussion of various definitions suggested for the form.

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October 28, 2008 Ginko

Lynette Arden (on behalf of HaikuOz SA representative, Martina Taeker)


previously published by the Society of Women Writers South Australia Inc.

On Saturday 13 September a group of twelve haiku enthusiasts met at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for a ginko In a sudden burst of spring warmth, the gardens were at their best. After a short meeting to discuss our plans the group split up, so individuals were free to walk about the gardens or, if they chose, to find a special place to pause and observe the variety of plant life, creatures and humans sharing the gardens on this sunny morning.

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This year, our International haiku contest in English received 306 haiku written by 97 authors from 25 countries: Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Macedonia, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Trinidad and Tobaggo, and The United States of America. Members of the jury were prof. Ruzica Mokos and prof. Vida Pust Skrgulja.

1st Prize

solemn quietness
in a full moon’s night –
ticking of a clock
Ivan Ivkovic, Veliko Laole, Serbia
2nd Prize

bouncing merrily
in the playground –
Robert Naczas, Poland
3rd Prize

waterfall –
all I want is
to pass water
Ernest J. Berry, Pincton, New Zealand


Bowerbird Tanka Workshop

The second Bowerbird Tanka workshop was held on 26th October, 2008 at Beverley George’s welcoming home at Pearl Beach, NSW.

The presenters, Beverley George and Amelia Fielden, led a most enthusiastic and creative group of thirteen women throughout the perfect spring day.
Workshopping began with prepared tanka on the theme sport/recreation/hobby or an interest which was followed by a highly informative talk by Amelia Fielden about shasei (sketching from life).After lunch on Beverley’s sun deck by the lagoon, we worked in pairs rising to the challenge of writing a responsive string using memories as a theme and incorporating the newly learnt shasei.