You have heard of English poetry, Latin poetry, Classical Greek poetry, and many more; but have you ever heard of haiku poetry? Surprisingly enough there are many types of poems haiku, a kind of poetry that belongs to Japanese poetry.
All types of poems haiku share some common characteristics: they usually describe two different images or ideas, which are juxtaposed to one another. In fact, there is a certain punctuation in the poem that sounds “cutting”, thus signaling the point where those two ideas separate, but also revealing the way these two opposed ideas relate to one another. In most cases, the various types of haiku poems have 17 syllables characterized by three distinct verbal punctuations. To what is more haiku poems also include some sort of seasonal reference, despite their overall theme, and in each case they include a rather extensive list of words that have to do with this season. In all cases, however, haiku poems have three lines: the first and the third line have five morae (a mora being a certain unit in phonology that has to with syllable weight), while the one in between them has seven, and the three lines do not necessarily rhyme. The opening line is called a “hokku”, and it is what determines the tone of those to follow. With all this mind, let us take a closer look now at the different types of haiku poems.
In a strict sense, one can say that there is only one type of poems haiku, namely the traditional form found in Japanese poetry. If one broadens his definition of haiku, one can come up with at least four more types of poems haiku, like: English haiku, haibun, refrigerator haiku, and haiku series. English haiku is very similar to traditional haiku in form, but differs in that it doesn’t usually contain a Kigo or a Kireji. The kigo refers to that specific word that connotes the season which the haiku poem refers to, a word that in traditional Japanese poetry was connected to specific references of the Japanese culture (which is practically the reason why it is not used in English haiku). As for the term kireji, it refers to the cutting word that is used to make the contrast between the two images or ideas described by the poem. Haibun poems do not have a certain theme; they can be about anything, although they do include images of nature. In a way, they are something between a traditional haiku and prose. Moving on to refrigerator haiku poems, these are basically poems that retain haiku form, but are written on magnets places on refrigerators. As for the last of the four types of poems haiku, a haiku chain is (as the name suggests) a continuous chain of haiku poems that are linked to one another. In this cases, the various poems might not be thematically linked, especially as you move further down the chain of poems; one thing is for sure though, and it is essentially what makes those poems a connected series: the ending line of each poem is use as the opening line of the one to follow. Again, as with refrigerator haiku, this is a rather fun art form that is mostly found on internet blogs and forums.
Now that you have read this article, when you hear someone talking about haiku poems, you can be a smart Alec, and tell him of those other types of poems haiku that you learned.