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Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a question that we’ve not answered on this site, or that’s not answered below, please tell us by contacting Michael Dylan Welch.

Where can I read some haiku on this site?

We include selected haiku with the bios for each of our honorary curators, as well as on the biographical pages for advisory board members.

Where can I learn more about haiku online?

See our list of Haiku Links, particularly the Open Directory Portal Site for Haiku and Related Poetry. Please be aware that a great deal of misinformation permeates online haiku sites. To learn more about haiku as a literary art, we recommend joining national haiku organizations, such as the Haiku Society of America or Haiku Canada, as well as local/regional haiku organizations.

How does the American Haiku Archives select honorary curators?

Once a year, in late spring or early summer, the American Haiku Archives Advisory Board appoints a new honorary curator to serve a one-year term. Our current selection process follows a list of criteria determined in 2002. You can read these guidelines at Criteria for Appointing Honorary Curators. We have no application process, and appointments are by invitation only, but you are welcome to suggest the names of worthy recipients to any board member.

What are the duties of the honorary curator?

Honorary curators have no duties, and receive no remuneration. The title is strictly honorary, and each annual appointment intends to honor a prominent haiku poet, scholar, or translator, and to help generate publicity for the haiku archives.

Could you add a link to my haiku site?

This site does not link to personal haiku sites, although we will consider haiku-related links for selected organizations and of significant educational value (translations of haiku, and instruction on the art and craft of haiku). If you want to propose a link for us to add, please contact Michael Dylan Welch. To see our current links, please visit Haiku Links.

Are there other haiku archives in the United States or elsewhere?

Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has an extensive library of as much poetry as it can acquire (and thus includes much haiku), and several other universities house the papers of specific haiku poets (for example, Rutgers University has the papers of Nicholas Virgilio, Columbia University has the papers of L. A. Davidson and William J. Higginson, the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library at the University of Toronto has partial papers of George Swede, and the W.E.B. Du Bois Library at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst has a growing collection of New England haiku poetry). Millikin University also has an extensive collection of haiku books, used for research in its Global Haiku Traditions program. However, the American Haiku Archives in Sacramento is the largest public archives outside Japan devoted to haiku and related poetry. The British Haiku Society and Haiku Canada each have archives or lending libraries of haiku publications. Tokyo’s Museum of Haiku Literature is the most prominent haiku archive in Japan, with an extensive section of non-Japanese languages, primarily English. If you know of other public haiku archives anywhere in the world (especially for English-language haiku), or archives that house the papers of individual haiku poets, scholars, or translators, please let us know. See our haiku links to several archives.

Why aren’t the haiku on this site in a pattern of 5-7-5 syllables?
Isn’t that required for haiku?

In Japanese, haiku poets count sounds, not syllables, and while the pattern of 5-7-5 is traditional in Japanese haiku, in Japanese they are not actually counting syllables. For example, the word “haiku” is two syllables in English, but is counted as three sounds in Japanese. Writing seventeen syllables in English generally produces a poem that is much longer in content than what is written in seventeen Japanese sounds (often referred to as “on” or “mora”; the term “onji” was used in the past, but is apparently incorrect).

The vast bulk of literary haiku in English is not 5-7-5, as you can see by reading anthologies such as Cor van den Heuvel’s The Haiku Anthology (Norton, 1999) or prominent haiku journals such as Modern Haiku or Frogpond. Haiku has been widely mistaught in English, and frequently no mention is made of other key facets of the genre, which include the use of kireji (a “cutting word” that often divides the poem into two juxtaposed parts) and a kigo (a season word that anchors the poem in time and alludes to other poems). Primarily objective imagery is also common. In addition, haiku nearly always avoid titles, rhyme, and overt metaphor and simile. To learn more about the craft of haiku, please read William J. Higginson’s Haiku Handbook (Kodansha, 1989) or other recent introductory books on the art and craft of haiku.

How do I join the American Haiku Archives advisory board?

Current membership on the advisory board is by invitation only. If you have opinions or information that might affect board decisions or ideas, please do contact any board member. By expressing such interest in board activity and the haiku archives itself, and being active with your advice, you may well receive an invitation to join the advisory board. The goals of the advisory board include the preservation of English-language haiku and related poetry and the support and promotion of the American Haiku Archives, and we welcome your suggestions to help accomplish these goals.

What is the relationship of the Haiku Society of America to the American Haiku Archives?

The American Haiku Archives houses the archives of the Haiku Society of America, meaning that the American Haiku Archives is the official repository for all HSA papers, journals, newsletters, and other ongoing and historical materials, including books submitted for the HSA’s annual book awards. Other than this mutually beneficial relationship, however, the two organizations are entirely independent. The American Haiku Archives welcomes haiku of any type or quality from any organization or person anywhere, and should not be considered as being operated by the HSA. The mission of the American Haiku Archives is to encompass all haiku, of which the HSA’s contribution, albeit highly valued, is only a subset. For the American Haiku Archives, we believe that inclusiveness, welcoming all approaches, increases the breadth and value of the collection. As former California State Librarian Dr. Kevin Starr once advised, “Send in all your haiku materials—let history decide their value.”

Keyword search "Haiku Society of America" 1-20-2008 (rtf file) (pdf file)

My question isn’t answered here. What should I do?

Please contact any board member, as listed on the American Haiku Archives Advisory Board page. We’d be happy to help you as much as we can.


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This site is independent of and not endorsed by the California State Library. It is operated by the American Haiku Archives advisory board in support of the archives and its mission, which is to collect, preserve, and promote haiku and related poetry as a vital component of literature in the English language. Web Manager: Michael Dylan Welch.
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