What is Haiku?

Haiku is an important poetry form. The subject of a haiku is often nature, but occasionally not. There are many variations of haiku, but all haiku are small poems. Some forms count syllables, others don’t. Some are written in variations of longer and shorter lines–others are simply limited by the overall number of syllables.

Haiku Journal sticks to a constrained form. We only accept haiku in the English language, though the origins of this form are rooted in Japan. We only accept poems that follow a specific pattern consisting of five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line, and five in the third line (often called the 575 form). If you don’t like this style of haiku, consider our sister site, 50Haikus.com, where we accept all forms of haiku. 50 Haikus is a fabulous journal, despite the funny name.

Consider this poem:

I was made of clay.
I became a free bird.
My clay has turned to wind.

Is this a haiku?
Yes, but it is not the form of haiku this journal accepts. The first line has 5 syllables (good) – The second line has only 6 syllables. – The third line also has 6 syllables. Be sure your haiku follows the form (5 syllables in line one, 7 in line two, 5 in line three) if you plan to submit here.

pleasant cathedral
coughs sadly, dimly shrewd, loud
patient carnivores

Is this a haiku?
Yes, it does follow the pattern. This haiku would be considered nontraditional.
There is more to learn about the traditions and the nuances of haiku.

You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haiku

Want to impress us?

  • Include a word or phrase that symbolizes or implies the season of the poem. (See Kigo in Wikapedia)
  • Include a cutting word that resonates and causes the poem to split or end reflectively. (See Kireji in Wikipedia)


In modern haiku, there are many different styles providing greater flexibility than ever before, but to be true to the form we honor, we do need some restraints. Haiku Journal requires:

  • No title to the poem.
  • Proper syllabic pattern (5 / 7 / 5)


We do not require the Kigo or Kireji, but since we are lovers of haiku, we do appreciate submissions which include them. We hope you enjoy writing haiku poems, and choose to submit often.