Megaru Festival Japan

My Haikuawakening


It is with great respect for the haiku tradition that I present myself here today.  I feel myself almost like a newcomer to this form of expression, but you can possibly relate to this poetry from your own original approach and thereby see your own experience in a new perspective.


Since I was ten years old I have been moved by the wonderful world of words, of putting life into words, to express all that touched my heart and mind and everything that is impossible to express in dailylanguage, the short sense of a moment, which is fleetingly here only to disappear having touched the soul.

                      In the period 1974 - 94 I wrote many poems, at first long prosepoems, which in time became shorter and shorter to end up as stockcubes of what I wanted to express.                     

                      They were short poems and  epigrams with few or many syllables and one or several lines. f.ex.


Red sun

Above the city rooves

bringing a stride to a halt

It's over




Spaceless moments

which live on

when grief over absence

has disappeared

and there's a smile on my lips


At that time I was particularly inspired by the Danish poets Erik Stinus, Dan Turéll and Peter Laugesen.


For many years I mostly wrote books for children and youngsters. Poems took up very little space in my universe.

                      First in 2006 a tiny little book - no bigger than a match-box suddenly appeared in my life. It contained haiku poems written by the Danish writers Hanne Hansen and Sys Mathiesen, who both took the initiative to create the haiku-writers group in The Danish Author's Society and whose work has meant a great deal for the development of this form of poetry in Denmark. Hanne Hansen is still our chairman. Sys Mathiesen is unfortunately no longer among us. Peace be with her.

                      From that day my haiku-awakening moved forward, embracing both the elements of huge fun and curiousity and many new names turned up in my poetic world, first of all the Danish haiku writers, especially Niels Kjær, who also taught me about Basho, Issa and Buson.

                      One haiku after another was born – and all of you know exactly what that means. It becomes a passion. When you are waiting here or there, for a bus or a train, a friend or a loved one, in an office, or standing in line in a shop, or maybe like here at a festival, when you have heard enough and need a creative pause. It sneaks into your life. You look around, you recognise your surroundings, scents, colours, forms, faces, nature, actions taking place and suddenly your lips begin to move creating sentences and when you see a human being doing this – you know immediately  that here we have a haiku-writer.


In October 2011 I decided to look at my around 200 haiku – and in February 2012 75 of them were printed in this little book. In the darkness rests the light The following two haiku are from this book and have been translated from Danish:

A hope from the heart

Of love in the world of man

War moans audibly.


Someone listening

Yon blackbird flirts in sweet song

A heart melts right now


When we got the invitation to participate it was time to try making haiku in English, which is absolutely not my first language!

                      But on a trip to Paris, I found a very interesting book in the old Shakespeare Company booktrade: Global Haiku Twenty-five Poets World-wide, Mosaic Press, NY, 2000, edited by George Swede and Randy Brooks and in this book I discovered that many of the English haikus are written as were my first short poems, meaning not necessarily 17 syllables in 3 lines. 

                      This was a revelation, because now I'd returned to the realisation that it is meaning, as the essential poetic element, which controls the real or perceived moment and often sets the rules for the poem's form.

                      Secondly, when spoken, the haiku should be approximately one breath-length.


Once again I began to turn the pages in the book, Global Haiku, as well as in my own little book with these, for me, new criteria in mind. Did they satisfy those criteria? Yeah, but not all of them.

So now I have a lot more to discover before I can call myself an accomplished haikupoet.

                      In 1967 Henderson said:

                      ”There is as yet no complete unanimity among American poets(or editors) as to what constitutes a haiku in English – how it differs from other poems which may be equally short. In other words, haiku in English are still in their infancy.”

                      In Global Haiku (edited in 2000) George Swede examines the eight classical criteria and shows, that only five still remain crucial today.


1)The haiku must be brief, that is when read aloud it should be one breath-length long

2)The haiku must express a sense of awe or transcendent insight

3)The haiku must involve some aspect of nature other than human nature

4)The haiku must posses sense images, not generalizations

5)The haiku must present an event as happening now, not in the past or in the future.


My research until now shows that most of the Danish haiku follow the original Japanese-inspired haiku : 5-7-5 syllables in 3 lines. They can be arranged symmetrically, which is a  neat way of indicating the two short pauses necessary for making the implied comparison between two things or events  as we haven't the kireji or a cutting word or suffix (afledningsendelse) in Danish. This works very well (I think) in the Danish language, but a shorter form regarding breath-length works too. So it's up to the individual to choose.


In the sunrise

You are the sunbeam

Illuminating all


The sun has come

and the deck-chair

is waiting for

a moment of zen


The ultimate pleasure is when a poem soars into the eye of the hurricane and lifts the mind of the reader to a level of transcendental insight. Not that esay...                              Ann Mari Urwald 2013



The argumentation for this summary can be red in

Global Haiku-Twentyfive Poets World-wide,

Mosaic Press in USA, 2000           

4500 Witmer Industrial Estates

PMB 145, Niagara Falls

NY 14305-1386


ISBN 0-88962-713-4 



                                             When I first met Henderson.


I was very young when I visited Japan for the first time. It was in 1961. I  was on board a Danish

ship as a wireless-operator, and we were bound Moji in the southern part of Japan.

I found everything so interesting and beautiful  and was fascinated and strongly  moved by Japan,

and I loved the country from my  very first visit.

Later in the years to come, I was still sailing as a wireless-operator and visited many different ports

and cities in Japan.

During my stays in Japan, I became interested in the culture of the country and found out that there were some small poems called Haiku.

My mother gave me a book with Haiku-poems by Hans -Jørgen  Nielsen, a Danish writer, who  as the first for 50 years ago,in 1963, was writing about Haiku. In his book, there was the very first

Haiku-collection in Denmark, all the great classic poets from Japan were represented. -Translated

or re-created into Danish.

Then it all started. I read Haiku, tried to write some, but I had a lot to learn.  But once I was in Japan

still on board a ship , I had some trouble with my radio station, which called  for technical  assistance from  a Japanese firm in Kobe. It was back in 1968, and I asked the  technician if he

knew the poetry called Haiku.---- What a question to ask a Japanese  about!!  Of course he knew

the Haiku-poems, and when he returned  the next day to finish the work, he had  a little   book with him by  Harold G. Henderson, with the title Haiku in English, from the manager of the  firm, together  with a dinner  invitation.

That  little book became an eye-opener, and here I read  about all the rules concerning Haiku-poems, and learned that Haiku was a  5-7-5 poem, dealing with nature, and happening now.

Who was that man Harold Gould Henderson, whose little book became my follower through the

years, and still is?

Harold G. Henderson was born in 1889 and died 1974. He was an  American academic,  an art

historian and Japanologist.  In 1910  he earned a degree at Columbia University , and continued his

studies in Japan between 1930 and 1934. For twenty  years he was a professor at Columbia University, and from 1948 through 1952 , he was president of  The Japan Society in  New York .

He was also an assistant curator  of The Far East Department of The Metropolitan  Museum of Art in New York City  back in 1927-1929. During the second world war he was doing military service in Japan.

In Tokyo he was an adviser on education and art, and was working together with R. H.  Blyth

(another great writer about Haiku)  Blyth is known  for his great work in 4 volumes about Haiku.

Preparing this paper on Haiku, I read the book  An Introduction to Haiku by Henderson, and was moved by Basho´s  poem, when he twenty  years  after his beloved master and playmate Lord Sengin

had died, again was standing  under the cherry trees, where they had spent so many  happy hours.

Standing  there with  his heart so full of memories, he was unable to write a  normal poem, but could only say:       

                                                               Many many things

                                                               they bring to mind-

                                                               cherry blossoms!

I do find this outburst a real good poem, and I am convinced that everybody,  who is writing   Haiku have written about cherries. And me too!  I am not going to compare myself  with Basho or  other

of the great masters not at all- but here is one of my own about cherries.


                                                                 Cherry blossoms

                                                                  a link to life

                                                                  at  the cemetery                                                                                                                                     


In 1679 Basho wrote a verse which was taken as a model  by other Haiku  poets, more for its technique  than its content.


                                                                 On a  withered branch

                                                                  a  crow has settled-

                                                                  autumn nightfall.


This Haiku was of course  associated to Basho's  name, but the best known Haiku from Basho came in 1689, and is known by all of us. I need not say more than:


                                                                   Pond-frog -jump!


In Henderson's  book I also found  The name of a female Haiku poet,  which I didn't   know.

Chiyo  (1701-1775). There were different opinions about her  verses , but Henderson stated  that she was a true poet, but not a Haiku master.  Her poem  after her little son died, he mentioned  as one of her finest ones. In Henderson's  translation into English he uses  rhyme (which is not allowed in Haiku, and which I think one shouldn't  use.   But of course it is a nice rhyme, and here it comes.


                                                                    The  dragonfly hunter-

                                                                     today, what place has he

                                                                     got to, I wonder.


It has also been translated in  rhyme by Curtis Hidden Page in a very beautiful way.


                                                                    I wonder in what fields today

                                                                    He chases dragonflies in play

                                                                    My little boy-who ran away.


Basho and Buson were called   The two pillars of Haiku,  and one of Buson's  wonderful  Haiku

about a temple and a butterfly is also one of my favourite ones :


                                                                      On the temple bell

                                                                      has settled , and is fast asleep

                                                                      a butterfly.


As everybody knows  Buson                   was also a  painter,  and made  very beautiful  pictures in his


I too like to write about butterflies, which  is again common for  many Haiku   poets.


                                                                      Through the open door

                                                                       a butterfly is  visiting

                                                                       staying      for a while.


As I mentioned before ,- I have been in Kobe , and there on a rainy day many years ago I met the extreme politeness of  the  Japanese people, which I have caught in the following   Haiku.

I  have  to tell you that  it happened twice,  on the same route this rainy day in Kobe:


                                                                      Polite Japanese

                                                                      offers his umbrella

                                                                      rain in Kobe.


There are so many  great Haiku masters who ought to be mentioned , and also quoted here,

but the time does not allowed it.

I am going to finish this paper  with another of my own poems.




                                                                      Haiku poetry

                                                                      bringing people together

                                                                      all over the world.


Thank you Mr. Henderson , for taking me into the wonderful world of Haiku , and thank you to all of you for listening.


                                                       Thank you very much.



                                                        Kate Larsen



H. C. Andersen, Issa and me.

Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875.
Actually, how did it all start, with fairy tales? My mother read Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales to me and my brother and sister. "The Emperor's New Clothes", "The Nightingale", "The Princess and the Pea", and when Christmas approached, we listened to "The Little Match Girl".
      I have often thought it was good to live in a small country like Denmark with a capital such as Copenhagen, which still has the small cobbled alleys, where Andersen walked with his top hat and his stick; a country that has produced such a great poet. 

    When I was a kid, it was not only a country but also a kingdom with a king, and he had a daughter who is now queen and who also,  once in a while, still puts the royal crown on. Today, although I'm not much of a royalist, I do not really know whether I prefer a president instead of a king. In a time when everything is so polarized and without visions and nuances in our so-called European Community, which now is as wobbly as a ramshackle house in Andersen's adventure, it is quite a difficult political decision. The story of the Emperor's new clothes, has become a new current affair - as the little boy in the story said: "Mom, he has no clothes on!"
      At heart I'm a world citizen, and so was Andersen. One of his famous quotes says: "To travel is to live", well versed in other cultures, as he was. He was an extraordinary man, brought up in great poverty, a dreamer and a visionary. His appearance was also unusual; tall, angular and lanky, and not exactly handsome, but his face bore witness to his goodness and spiritual wealth; indeed a touching person in many ways. His work is autobiographical and the tale of "The Ugly Duckling" tells his life story.
      Though he was beloved and revered throughout the world, one should not forget that he, with his sensitive mind and fragile health, wrestled with his life, even referring to his own state as "morbid sadness". Unlucky in love, Rigmor Voigt, his first and greatest love, married another. A letter she wrote to him was  reportedly found in a small leather pouch that he wore around his neck until his death, at 70 years of age. He had worn it for 45 years. Inspired by his own letters, I have written this poem: "A love letter / written with a swan feather / from a wounded bird".
      Andersen wrote everything between heaven and earth and one of the strengths of his art is improvisation, which gave his pen freedom and ease. He is known for his quotes and short poems, for example, "Cavalier": "I dance a long time, I dance quickly, I dance with the miserable thing." Although he didn't refer to the crane dance, I can easily associate it with this dance, which is not about mating, but about creating a lifelong relationship, as dreamt of by Andersen. In a vision, I see him dance with his long neck and long legs, slightly comical-looking, but authentic and lovable, and I was inspired to write this: "The ice has melted / crane
s clumsy landing / meadow quivers".

     I too have worked with improvisation in my career as a jazz singer, and I feel a certain kinship with the music  and poetry in Andersen's art. He said of his work: " Short, clear and truthful it should be, only then it becomes art", and it leads in a natural way like an invisible thread to the little big haiku poem.

Issa and me:
Not long ago, in 2004, it was love at first sight, when I came across Kobayashi Issa and discovered the art of haiku poetry. I have often asked myself what it was that got me to read and write them. I really do not know. In a way they make me forget about myself, and suddenly I remember what it was like to do splits and dance with the trees, and in a d
éjà vu I saw my hard working mother: 1 "The well-scrubbed floor / my mothers beautiful hands / always dancing. "       

     I like Issa for his keen interest in the people from the lowest class, who he was surrounded by, portraying their lives with great sympathy and a sharp eye. He was also, as a haikai poet probably is, very good at observing himself from the outside. Here's a humorous self-portrait, though the humour and irony sometimes had a twist of mockery. 2 "Autumn wind / a beggar looks at me / then at himself"     

     I came in close contact with the Haiku Group of the Danish Writers Association and was inspired by Hanne Hansen to read "Dew on the Grass. I felt no distance in time relative to the poems, which seemed to me to be written by a contemporary poet, which is quite unique.

The short reflective poems have always attracted me, ever since I began as a shy and introspective teenager writing only for the drawer. From the beginning I have also been interested in the great painters, particularly the ones who cut to the bone - Picasso, Miro and the adventurous painter Paul Klee, who has inspired art and poetry.

     Being in a haiku moment, displaying it in a poem, for me is a meditative way to live life in the presence, with gratitude and sometimes forgiveness, and that you can spend a whole lifetime. Andersen has written about it, and Issa has shown the way.

     At about the same time, when I published my first and up until now, only haiku collection in Danish, "Leaves Dripping" in 2007, I was asked to,  and had the great pleasure, to read from Kobayashi Issa's "Dugdråbeverden" at the annual Bookforum in Copenhagen. The collection was published by "House Publishers" in 2006, selected and translated by journalist and historian 3 Arne Herløv Petersen. He has translated Issa's poem: "A flock of sparrows / And not one of them is the stepchild ", and here he is exactly at the crux of the matter of Issa's life. The poems in the collection date from after his return home from wandering in the provinces as a 51 year old man in 1814, when, through a settlement, he took over half of his ancestral farm.
Issa was not at home for very long. Soon after the wedding with his young wife Kiko he took off again. In a letter dated April 18th,1817, he wrote to his wife that he was sorry to be away for so long, partly blaming it on a skin disease he was suffering from. He expressed guilt at being away and boring her with his absences. Well, I can imagine, almost like living with a jazz musician - quite boring at times, but also very stimulating at other times. From my self-made small booklet, "Jazz and Haiku, 2009: "The trumpet player / reveals everything / even the night".

It is generally believed that he is not on par with the masters Basho and Buson, but it is evident to me, that he is the most beloved of all Japanese poets. His earthly, warm and deep sense of connectedness to all living beings happens to tell me why.

     Bashos and Issas relation to wander was very different. For Issa, it was not an exercise in being alone, a discipline of giving up, as it was for Basho. But on the other hand, "the way" was a ribbon to the meeting with the other person. He sought relationships, just as Andersen sought relationships.

     I can easily identify myself with this. The creation of relationships is the very core of life, precisely as a feeling of genuine fellowship is something to be fought for; almost something fatal. 4"Reddish-yellow leafs / the forest's playful face / always the same".

     Reality is one side of the art, the feeling completes it, and if you have been affected, that feeling is passed on to others, at all times.
     I read Issa:
"The man who pulled radishes up / showed the way / with a radish."


1. Anthology "Haiku Workshop in Copenhagen, in January 2008, with Colin Blundell. (Hub Editions, Hand Made in Wingland). 2 "Dew on the Grass", p.55. The Life and Poetry of Kobayashi Issa by Makoto Ueda. 3 Arne Herløv Petersen, born 1943, translator since 1965 of Asian languages. 4 Haiku,  my journey to Bindlach, Bayreuth, Germany 2007.

@ Mona Larsen, February 2013


            Haiku ripples in Danish poetry

By Thorvald Berthelsen

Dear Colleagues

In 1853 Japanese leaders opened the country for trade. This meant that Japanese culture became accessible to foreigners. Haiku were spread all over the world in the 160 years which have passed since then – even to our country Denmark.

In 1958 the Danish tennis champion, jazz critic and writer Torben Ulrich published the first Danish translations of Japanese haiku in the periodical Bazar, which he edited together with the Danish poet Jørgen Gustava Brandt. Amongst them was the famous Basho haiku on the pond and the frog. He translated the ending sound with the Danish onomatopoeia, “Blop”, which is still the best translation of that particular sound.

Torben Ulrich, himself a Zen Buddhist, and Jørgen Gustava Brandt were inspired by the American Beat poets and their revival of the American haiku tradition from the Imagists combined with Zen Buddhism. Specifically by the publishing of “The Darma Bums” by Jack Kerouac. In that novel a character based on Gary Snyder writes a lot of haiku.

The year before Jørgen Gustava Brandt published his collection of lyrics, Trails of the dragon[1], where probably the first haiku inspired poem in Danish was printed:

                      Heavy and starring
                                            the living room at wake
                      turning on the night lamp
                                            flyes will buzz

This didn’t spread the Danish awareness of haiku very far. It was the publication of “haiku” in 1963 by Hans- Jørgen Nielsen that triggered the broader haiku influence on modern Danish poetry. He had translated large samples of the Japanese haiku masters from German, English and French translations. This also meant that he neglected the formal syntax and rules of classical Japanese haiku. He translated them into the “broken” syntax of modern poetry.

One of the greatest modern Danish poets, Ivan Malinovski, imidiately responded to this by in 1965 writing and publishing a whole book of short poems inspired by haiku, “Poetomatic”. In it he wrote poems that question the Zen Buddhist and introvert tradition in haiku. And he develops the short lyrics into modern civilization critical poems. In a section of Poetomatic he prints Hans-Jørgen Nielsens translation of a Buson haiku on one page and writes a poem with his own comment on the opposite page:


On the temples
great bell, completely at rest
a butterfly sleeps

Too steep
the fire
too big

birds taking off


During the 70/80es of the 20th century Dan Turell, Klaus Høeck and Peter Laugesen where strongly influenced by the American Beat poets, Zen Buddhism and haiku. Peter Laugesen wrote several haiku poems mixed in between his other poems in his different books of poems. And he has continued doing so throughout his authorship. For example this one in “Blues” from 1977:

the snow clutching
beneath the clogs
coming through the park[3]

As the literary scholar Anne Borup[4] has pointed out: The Danish literary critics didn’t recognize the literary renewal, because they  didn’t see or understand haiku. Erik Skyum-Nielsen wrote about one of his haiku “It could have been the start of a poem. But alas Laugesen lets the lines stand alone, like the following short sight:”

Frozen panties
dangling from the string
winterfish in Flower

As always with Laugesen his poem is rooted in everyday experience. Here: laundry hung out to dry in cold weather. The sight makes you associate to  flat or flying fish and flower heads, and the poem jumps abruptly into a surreal image: winterfish in bloom. It is haiku and imagism at once. And it captures the essence of haiku. It is a snapshot of the moment in its microcosmic unikness.

In 1982 Susanne Jorn published her haiku translations directly from the Japanese in “Efter blæsten”. It contains translations closer to the original of the same haiku masters, whom Hans-Jørgen Nielsen had published In 1963.

In the 90’es Pia Tafdrup wrote haiku inspired short poems, and authors like Susanne Brøgger, Hanne Hansen, Viggo Madsen and Lone Munksgaard Nielsen wrote haiku or published haiku books. Lone Munksgaard Nielsen has written "Rimgræs" (2003), in which the following haiku appears:

He leaned
too far back and
fell out of his body

The poem is compliant with the 5 -7 - 5 syllables rhythm, but the classic themes from the original haiku is gone, although the poem is about the entry into a Zen-insight in the essence of everything, a cosmic overall awareness.

In 2002 The Haiku Group of the Danish Authors’ Society was founded by Hanne Hansen, Niels Kjær, Kate Larsen and Sys Matthiesen, who are all avid haiku poets. Hanne Hansen, who was also the initiator of the group, writes even exclusively haiku. She has also released several collections. Since then a lot of haiku books has been published in Danish.

A large selection of haiku by Kobayashi Issa has been translated and published by Arne Herløv Petersen[7] and 2 books of Basho haiku translations have been published by Niels Kjær

In 2011 the Haiku Group of the Danish Authors’ Society published their 10th anniversary anthology Blade i Vinden (Leaves in the Wind).

In 2012, the Danish haiku group had the opportunity to meet with Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, who is well known for his love of haiku and for publishing his own book of haiku in 2010.

On that occasion the group made a supplement in English and Danish to Blade i Vinden. Danish Haiku Today 2012 is an extended edition, which includes more poems as well as more poets. It introduces the English-speaking world to 28 contemporary Danish haiku poets.

Some of the Danish haiku poets address nature, the seasons, cherry blossoms and other subjects addressed by the Japanese haiku masters. And they do so in a more classical haiku language and syntax. These are all examples of this:

snowflakes dancing
over the bare graves –
the sky is open

Niels Kjaer

white wooden houses
at the foot of the mountains
their snow covered tops

Hanne Hansen

withered leaves
rustle under my feet
the shadow moves silently

Jette Slaaen

Others are deeply integrated in the ways of expression of modern Danish poetry and don’t comply with most of the rules of the Japanese haiku tradition:

a word that takes time defoliation

Johannes S. H. Bjerg

A sky of Italian marble
butcher’s counter
oh, how I need

Viggo Madsen

Behind the looking glass
In a place for
nobody grass is meeting
butterfly scales

Thorvald Berthelsen


In the development of Danish haiku the Beat poets of America and even Zen Buddhism have played a smaller and smaller part. There are several different opinions about what a haiku is amongst both the Danish and the American-European haiku poets. Some use rhymes, metaphores, titles and other poetic expressions, foreign to the classical Japanese haiku forms. The key is that haiku poems put a momentary experience into perspective in its microcosm and expands the experience. And whether they write classical inspired or more modern haiku Danish haiku poets are all more or less deeply influenced by modern Danish poetry from the last 60 years.


Haiku in Danish: A Theory of Poetry

By: Bo Lille, Denmark

Honoured Hosts, honoured Friends of the haiku!

Today I am to tell you about my theory of haiku, - and its background.

Before my first collection of haiku was published, in 2005, I studied various theories of haiku. They contained many demands as to the contents and themes a good haiku should have.  Some were reasonable, others not really.I shall mention a few of these demands: The rule of 5-7-5, the demand that a haiku should contain a reference to nature, the demand that it has to deal with a specific happening, the demand that it has to be written in the present tense, the demand that a haiku must not rhyme, the demand that titles are not allowed, and that it has to refer to a specific time of year which - by the way - should not be mentioned.

At the same time I read many good poems of 5 -7- 5 syllables that did not live up to those demands. Some might deal with the wrong themes, some were not in the present tense, others were more general, perhaps they did not refer to a specific time of year, a few were rhymed, and so on. But I could see no good reason not to call them haiku, for what other genre was left for them, if they were not accepted as haiku?

Officially those poor poems were genreless, it seems. - In a way, we were caught in a kind of a theoretical dead end, a conception of the word haiku that was much too narrow, and excluded some existing poems from the genre, although they were in fact good haiku.

  I did not find that situation reasonable.

Although most of the above-mentioned demands were in themselves reasonable, it seemed necessary to  change them, but that would of course have to happen  without changing the demands to the classical Japanese haiku.

How could this be done?

My solution was the following:

In my first collection of haiku, Haiku in Danish[8], I published a theory, in which I suggested that we should recognize all poems of 5-7-5 as haiku, while accepting that the genre of haiku consists of a number of subgenres.

In my theory the GENRE HAIKU is like an umbrella which contains all poems of 5-7-5, and which contains a number of SUBGENRES. To these belong the traditional Japanese haiku, as well as haiku that do not fit into the rigid definitions they have set up to describe the nature of the classical Japanese haiku.

The fact that this definition is still built on the 5-7-5 schema has a parallel in the definition of the other poetical genres, such as the sonnet and the ritornelle, which are primarily defined by their form, and not by their contents.

Another good argument for my theory is the fact that our Danish language does not have the Japanese on-ji, only syllables, and this prevents us from writing traditional Japanese haiku anyway.

In that way I did not have to argue for or against the reasonability of all the demands that different haiku theoretics have made during the years. The only real demand was now the schedule of 5-7-5, and my theory made it possible for poets to choose whether they would try to write traditional Japanese haiku or less formal modern haiku.

Now 8 years after my haiku theory was published it appears that it has become the norm in Denmark.

But what about sub-genres? Right now I can think of the following:

1.The traditional Japanese haiku: They deal with nature, are unrhymed, a photo in words, written in the present tense, etc. etc.

2. Surrealistic or super-naturalistic haiku: Haiku that do not follow natures rules, but other standards.

3. Erotic haiku: Haiku with erotic contents, even sex.

4. Political haiku: Haiku with a political point of view, e.g. anti-war haiku, environmental haiku, etc.

5. Philosophical haiku: Haiku which contain philosophy, or philosophical thinking.

6. Humoristic haiku, including satirical / ironical haiku (senryu).

7. Metapoetic haiku: Haiku on haiku.

8. Thriller haiku: Haiku of horror.

9: Rhymed haiku: Haiku with rhymes, unlike what we know from the Japanese tradition.

As many of my haiku have been written in order to prove or exemplify these theories, I am forced to use much of my own material as examples. I hope you will accept this!



what kind of tree

with the unknown flower

such a fragrance[9]



the tomb also shakes

my weeping voice

is the autumn wind[10]



Rayon underwear

as black as the smoothest night

I get electric[11]



Political (Environmental):

New Orleans crying

to inciting jazz rhythms

well oiled BP blues[12]


Political (Pacifist):

peace has broken out

cannons are being melted

into lovers rings[13]



what is the question

if the answer is love

that is the question[14]


Humoristic (Senryu):

It is raining again

Cats as well as dogs

Sew up the clouds please[15]


The best poems

are always born exactly

where I am out of words[16]


Thriller haiku:


smell of corpse in my sheet

I spend my morning hunting

for the offspring[17]



In this poem 12 out of the 17 syllables rhyme, which makes it untranslateable, therefore I shall quote it in Danish and try to explain it in English

Hvis jeg ku haiku

som ham den samurai ku

blev du sgu bleg du[18] 

if I could haiku

like that there samurai could

you would turn pale, you

Thank you for listening! I hope you will agree with my solution to the problem or at least give it a thought, and perhaps discuss the matter with me lateron. You are so welcome!

[1]     Dragespor, 1957-


[2]     Natgrubler/Tunge og stirrende/vaager stuerne/Tænder jeg natlampen/summer fluerne.


[3]     sneen klampede/under træskoene/på vej gennem parken


[4]     Information, 17th November 2001


[5]   Frosne underbukser/dinglende på snoren/vinterfisk i blomst ”, Peter Laugesen: Konstrueret situation, 1996


[6]     Han lænede sig / alt for langt tilbage og / faldt ud af sin krop”.


[7]     Dugdråbeverden, 2006.


[8]    Haiku på dansk”, 2005


[9]    Basho 362, 1688, English version by Jane Reichold


[10]  Basho 566, 1689, English version by Jane Reichold


[11]  Bo Lille: Haiku – Knytæg med afkroge, p. 40


[12]  Bo Lille: Canadian Zen Summer 2010, p. 12, referring to the BP oilspill disaster in the Mexican Gulf


[13]  Bo Lille: Canadian Zen, Spring 2010, p. 33


[14]  Bo Lille: Haiku-Knytæg med afkroge, 2006


[15]  Bo Lille: Haiku-Knytæg med afkroge, 2006


[16]  Bo Lille: Haiku-Knytæg med afkroge, 2006


[17]  Thorvald Berthelsen in Blade i Vinden, Haiku-antologi, p.89


[18]  Bo Lille: Haiku på dansk, 2005