Ever since we began, Simply Haiku has been an English language Japanese short form poetry journal. We respect the Japanese usage of metrics, kigo, meter, aesthetics, the seen and the unseen. All of us come from different cultures and, therefore, have aesthetics, kigo, and cultural memories indigenous to our own lives.
Simply Haiku believes the genres given to us by Japan have certain principles, commonalities, metric schemata, kigo usage, etc. that if not utilized, change the genres into something they are not. We respect tradition and change but won’t call, for instance, a 5 line free verse poem using metrics that deviate from S/L/S/L/L metrics and omit any form of aesthetics, Japanese or from one’s own culture, a tanka. Each of the genres: tanka, haiku, haiga, haibun, and renga, have distinct traits that define them as such. We feature interviews, essays, and articles by the world’s most prominent scholars and experts in the field to educate our readers. As in Japan, we must study, practice, and learn the basics before we can pioneer new sub-genres.
On behalf of the staff, Saša and I thank you for your loyalty and for helping Simply Haiku to become the most respected international English-language Japanese short form literary poetry journal in the Anglo-Western world, with over 12,000 readers.
From the onset, Simply Haiku has featured some of the greatest scholars and poets world-wide. We've also insisted on quality and a consistent vision, which is not always popular with some of the more vocal English- language Japanese short form poetry editors, haiku association officers, and poets.
Japanese short form poetry consists of a series of well-defined genres: haiga, haibun, tanka, haiku, senryu, and renga. Simply Haiku holds a deep respect for the genres and feel, as many scholars feel in Japan and in the West, that these genres need to be further understood and studied.
Many tanka and haiku poets, influenced by outdated research, and a lack of familiarity with Eastern thought, are writing tanka and haiku-like poems that deviate from what the Japanese gave the world, the result being an anything-goes poetic hodgepodge. For instance, in haiku, many are negating the need for kigo, deviating from the S/L/S metric schemata indigenous to the genre, and confused as to the differences between a senryu and a haiku. Few in the haiku community are consistent in their beliefs regarding what can and cannot be in an English- language haiku.
Some say simile, personification, and metaphors are taboo. Others say they are okay to use as long as they are not overused. The understanding of what a haiku actually is, is a subject of debate as well. Some say it's a nature-in-the-now, aha-moment poem that should not be emotional, others say it's a fusion between man and nature (even the metaphysical), that can include emotion, serve as an allegorical or metaphorical tool, and speak of things that have already happened. A lot of this confusion and inconsistency is due to the outdated teachings of those who first popularized haiku in the West and the influence of Imagist poetry. The justifications for altering the genre as the Japanese defined and gave to the West are varied, and oftentimes ludicrous.
Terms are tossed about calling those who respect the genre as it has been handed down to the West by Japan: Japanophiles, Japanese wannabees, Japan-centrics, and a sophisticated elite who are chasing Westerners away from the enjoyment of English-language Japanese short form poetry: haiku, tanka, haiga, haibun, and renga.
Simply Haiku is an English Language Japanese Short Form Poetry Journal that believes that the aforementioned genres are Japanese genres, and those who are altering the form in the Western English-language short form poetry movement are writing Japan-like poetry as did some of those belonging to the Imagist school of poetry, such as Amy Lowell, Ezra Pound, and e.e. cummings.
Simply Haiku is our gift to you. It is not a follow-the-herd journal, nor will it be.
Wrote Fujiwara Teika:
“... both the gifted and the untalented have an individual style that is congenial to them... It would result in terrible damage to the Art of Poetry to insist that a person who has no disposition for it compose in a certain style that the teacher prefers simply because he happens to find it personally congenial to himself. A given style should be taught to a pupil only after careful study of the particular style of poem he tends to compose, for with every style, it is essential to keep in mind that it must be honest and right.”
Translated from the original manuscript by Robert H. Brower from the Maigetsusho (“monthly notes,” 1219?) in NKBT (Nihon Koten Bungaku Taikei; Japanese book).
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