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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

May 31, 2006

the haibun pundit: our premature arrival [and departure]

Filed under: Haiga or Haibun,Uncategorized — David Giacalone @ 7:54 pm

Welcome to the very premature unveiling of the haibun pundit. Due to recent chronic problems at the old Harvard-weblog webserver, the Editor of f/k/a has decided to rush this very imperfect version of his “next stage” weblog into online publication on the new, improved Harvard webserver. If you travel down this Home Page, you will find a few sample posts featuring the new theme and haibun format. [update:  See our About Page to follow the many changes in this weblog since this post was written.  Someday, the Editor hopes to start a separate, group weblog focused on Haibun Punditry.]

The f/k/a Gang has been searching for something a bit less stressful (and maybe even more effective) than sermons or commentary on the legal profession and its ethics. Frankly, being judgmental has become a physical and psychic drain on all of us here. We’d also like to become a bit more creative and “literary”.

Although we are going to continue to feature haiku and senryu from some of the very best haiku poets around — see our Guest Poet Archive — we are also going to experiment with the “haibun” genre, twisting it a bit to fit into a weblog format that focuses on current events and issues of interest to its Editor (and his alter egoes), and contains relevant links and blurbs.

“Haibun” is a literary and poetic genre with origins in 17th Century Japan and the writings of Master Haiku poet Bashō. It is a “linked form” — and, as the haibun editor of Simply Haiku magazine tells us, “The link is between narrative, prose sections and one or more haiku.” We will be presenting our brand of “haibun punditry” using prose and poems written by the Editor (aka “dagosan“), as well as published haibun written by our Honored Guest Poets.

winding road —

under the influence

of a strawberry moon

– by dagosanThe Heron’s Nest (VII: 4, Winter 2005)

Disclaimer: It is novel, and rather unorthodox, to try to use haibun in a “punditry” context, since haibun usually steers clear of drawing conclusions. Our hope is that it is the punditry rather than the haibun aspect if this union that will be influenced most by the linkage. In addition, please bear in mind that your Editor has never attempted to write “real” haibun before this week. This is, then, a bit of brash experimentation and perhaps a neophyte’s folly. It’s hoped that those who already appreciate the haibun genre will forgive my taking the name in vain. I hope to quickly get the hang of writing passable haibun, while figuring out how to do it in a weblog-commentary context.

We’re going to try to present “non-judgmental” commentary, using a haibun sensitivity — meaning “showing rather than telling,” and using imagery and narrative rather than conclusions, with as much brevity as is possible, given the DNA of the Editor. Most of our home-grown haibun will be followed by links to online news articles and other resources that are (more or less) relevant to the topic. Please let us know how this new approach to our weblog is working for you — and don’t forget that this website will continue to contain the Archives of both ethicalEsq and f/k/a.

full tummies

and empty bladders —

soon, vice-versa

…………………. dagosan from  simply senryu

p.s. Please bear with us on the formatting of this weblog. We have much work to do with the SideBar, as well as learning some of the basics, like spacing and font use, not too mention images. It’s like starting all over again, after getting too used to the prior weblogging software and architecture..

p.p.s. For a better idea of what good haibun should be like, please go to the website of Contemporary Haibun Online, which has lots of examples, a good definitions page and many helpful links. The haibun editor at Simply Haiku, who is now w.f. owen (one of our f/k/a Honored Guests), offered the following perspective on what makes good haibun:

Readers of this and other journals will see the wide range of styles of haibun writing. Content also varies. Traditional haibun have focused on such “mundane” topics as a broom or a gate or a tea cup. Some prose presents stream-of-consciousness, occasionally surreal, writing with little or no punctuation or conjunctions. Other prose sections use reflective memories set off by ellipses and still others offer autobiographical events. Bashô’s writings give excellent examples of one’s travels (e.g., Narrow Road to the Interior). All of these forms of haibun are welcome.

In the context of this flexibility, there are some common standards or criteria submitters should heed. One criterion is to limit or eliminate repetition of words and phrases. Just as haiku are sparse and economical in wording, so too are good haibun. This does not mean a haibun needs to be short in length; it means what is written is tightly constructed. Another major criterion for a successful haibun is a successful haiku. So many fine narratives fail to be good haibun because the haiku do not stand alone as solid poetry. And there is more. Haiku, especially those that end a haibun, need to relate to previous prose sections yet not be an extension of the prose. The oblique but relevant association between haiku and prose is the defining moment of the haibun. Thus, I look for an ending haiku that does not repeat, nor does it seem so unrelated as to leave the readers scratching their heads. The haiku link offers readers a springboard to multiple, and often unexpected, meanings. That is the challenge I hope you embrace.

Note: Your Editor will be on the road June 1st and 2nd and apologizes in advance for any tardy response to Comments.


  1. Goodness, my head is spinning from all these changes! This looks like fun. Good luck with it!


    disorder stalks me
    spoons won’t lie stacked
    in the drawer today

    Comment by Suz — June 1, 2006 @ 12:41 am

  2. Hello, Suz. Thanks for the encouragement and for leaving the first Comment under our new Theme. Those spoons are worrying me.

    Comment by ethicalesq — June 1, 2006 @ 2:47 am

  3. […] Check out the new, improved and renamed f/k/a … which is now the haibun pundit. You can also bookmark this on or check the cosmos […]

    Comment by Antitrust Review » A New and Improved f/k/a — June 2, 2006 @ 12:12 pm

  4. David: The new site looks nice. I hope ethicalEsq shows up now and again when a prophetic voice is needed. A little stress does a heart good. (OK, I made the heart part up, but it could be true.)

    Comment by JR — June 2, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

  5. Thank you, JR. ethicalEsq is going to have to do his talking in his Archives, I’m afraid. His retirement seems very important for my health and sanity, so I hope to resist the temptation to pontificate.

    Comment by David Giacalone — June 2, 2006 @ 7:07 pm

  6. […] the source of the story that inspired (or provoked) the haibun reportage. Co-Editor David Giacalone first suggested the role of “haibun pundit” at his f/k/a weblog in May 2006. His first two attempts at haibun punditry can be found at f/k/a, […]

    Pingback by » coming soon: haibun pundits make news the haibun gazette — March 4, 2009 @ 9:23 am

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