I’m no poet (don’t you know it?)

On the steps of Haguro-sanFallen autumn leaves
illuminating the steps
of Haguro-san

These three lines constitute what is known in the biz as “bad haiku”. There’s plenty of this stuff around. In fact, entire blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are dedicated to inferior attempts at recreating the famous, age-old literary art form of Japan. (E.g., “How to Write Bad Haiku”; “‘Worst Haiku Ever’ Contest Results!”; “Horrible Haiku”.) Here’s an example of a haiku poem I found on one of those sites:

Try writing haiku
without counting syllables
using your fingers

Bad? Perhaps. But very, very true. I wonder if Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), Japan’s best-known haiku master, also counted syllables on his fingers? I bet he did but tried to hide it under his yukata. Continue reading