Be true to your haiku

Via Jen 8 Lee for
national poetry month,
NY Times Haiku.

I learned via professor N's instant message that the estimable Jennifer 8 Lee tweeted a piece about the New York Times' creation of a Haiku bot.  I like that the Nieman Lab article felt compelled to state up front that this was not an April Fools item.  The NY Times bot somehow pulls out 5-7-5 syllable chunks of articles and presents them as haiku.  Some are quite apt, even touching. And April is National Poetry Month, go figure.

You may have noticed that I'm on a haiku kick this month (and have been before, notably in April of 2009) but I have to claim total ignorance until just now of both the NY Times bot and National Poetry Month.

What I can't claim ignorance of is that many of my haiku (and most likely all of the NYT bot's) are not really haiku in the fullest sense, and not only because they are not in Japanese. Most people think that an English haiku is a three-line poem with 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively. Actually, many practitioners of English haiku are not so orthodox about the syllable count. More importantly, as the NYT haiku bot's author notes,

A proper haiku should also contain a word that indicates the season, or “kigo,” as well as a juxtaposition of verbal imagery, known as “kireji.”

So, most of my little poems are hack-ku at best. I like the challenge and creativity you get with constraints, and I'll have to up my game by trying to adhere to these additional rules. Happy National Poetry month everybody!

Five Seven Five don't
make your poem a haiku;
rain don't make it April

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