Haibun not Defined

Haibun in English generally have a ‘title’. That said if you don’t use them, don’t worry, it won’t cost your submission a thing. BUT, I title all of mine because it sets the stage for the reader.

The ‘prose’ portion is best when it is a ‘prose poem’. The prose portion needs to sing to the reader. That said, do whatever you wish. One open warning I do NOT correct grammar in haibun, and frankly, don’t require it. Do any spellcheck and grammar check before submitting it. The prose, much like the poem(s) within it, has to be yours and yours alone. Style points will never be given. The style needs to be yours. Stylebooks, and I have them all, are not something I rely on for poetry or prose.

The haiku/senryu in your haibun IS the focus. Just plain obvious but without the poem what you write is not a haibun, no matter how wonderful the prose reads or the story it tells. Be aware that I will read the poem first every single time, and you should too prior to submitting it. That said, the prose may alter the meaning or meanings of the poem for the reader. That would be a kool thing, but not mandatory. 

IF I offer any suggestions you don’t have to take them. In fact, I only offer suggestions ‘after’ I have decided to select your work. In my own experience, I take a lot of the suggestions I receive from editors, but I am clear to them that what I write is mine and has to reflect the experience I want to communicate. I will respect your wishes without fail because I did not have the experience you had. I just read about it and guessed from your prose and your poem the totality of the experience, I can’t ever know it the way you do. Writing to please me will only hurt your work, and I don’t even do it in my own haibun. If I don’t select your work for any reason it does not mean it is not good or worthy. It always boils down to one person’s opinion.

Layout and other issues that sometimes put other folks off don’t bother me at all. All poets are walking ‘experiments’ anyway, so don’t assume your attempt at haibun has to look like anyone else’s and don’t let any topic scare you off from submitting. Important to note that if formatting can’t be transported to the website for any reason then we will work with you. The poet makes the call as to whether it works or not.

I may write more about the form at some other time, but this is all anyone should need to get started.

Mike Rehling

Article on Haibun by Roberta Beary, Haibun Editor for Modern Haiku.


Roberta Beary is a poet and writer whose passion for Haibun, the combining of prose with haiku/senryu is one many of us share. She is currently the Haibun Editor of Modern Haiku magazine and is an accomplished practitioner of the form. Her books have had multiple printings, and she is the Ambassador for The Haiku Foundation and lives in Ireland. Here we talk about the form, and her experiences both writing but editing in the form. If you want some additional inspiration you check out the link below: http://www.macqueensquinterly.com/Mac…​ It was my pleasure to Interview her on the Haibun form. Mike Rehling