What is haiku?

Haiku is a poetic form originating in Japan. As written in English, haiku are extremely short poems written in 17 syllables or fewer, often (but not necessarily) arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables each. Haiku make use of concrete imagery or sensations, not abstractions or metaphors, and are often (though not always) concerned with the natural world. (more...)

Frequently Asked Question (FAQ): Why don't your haiku all have 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second, and 5 on the third line?

Answer: Most serious haiku poets writing in English today don't count syllables strictly. That's because English syllables don't correspond exactly with their Japanese equivalents, so a 17-syllable English-language haiku actually comes out rather long and wordy compared with Japanese haiku. Instead, most writers aim to capture the spirit of haiku (simplicity, directness, and beauty). Many writers follow other rules too.

What is tinywords?

tinywords is the world's smallest magazine, publishing one new haiku nearly every weekday since late 2000. But with more than 2,800 subscribers to its daily email list and more than 10,000 monthly visitors to its website, tinywords is also the largest-circulation journal of haiku in English. Since its inception, tinywords has featured the work of more than 300 haiku poets, from first-time amateurs to recognized masters.

Submit your haikuHaiku linksGetting haiku via SMS

tinywords for: I-mode (courtesy eirmode) • AvantGo

More information about haiku:

In our view, haiku should point to an actual, lived experience and, in so doing, evoke deep feelings in the reader.

The important thing is to write about the experience or the image, not about the feelings themselves. These feelings will be most powerful if suggested indirectly, by letting the reader experience the image that the haiku conveys, rather than by trying to tell the reader what to feel.

Some people insist that each haiku contain a kigo, or word indicating the season, although others relax this rule. Many haiku writers insist on a break after the first or second line (in Japanese, kireji -- cutting words -- are used for this purpose, but in English it's usually done with punctuation). This should set up tension (comparison, contrast, or a surprising association) between the haiku's images.

tinywords aims to publish quality original haiku, one per day. From time to time, we also publish haiku that have appeared in other journals, as well as translations of Japanese haiku masters. We publish free-form, experimental, and "5-7-5" haiku, as well as the occasional senryu. To read our past daily selections, see the haiku archive.

We don't insist that haiku refer to a particular season. When they do, however, we strive to publish them at the appropriate time of year -- although the definition of that depends on where you are in the world, naturally. We do not insist on strict adherence to the rule that haiku must contain an explicit season word (kigo). If you are submitting a seasonal haiku, please let us know what time of year it corresponds to.

If you would like us to consider your haiku for publication, please see our submissions page.

For more information on haiku and related forms (renga, tanka, and senryu), we heartily recommend the sites listed on our links page.

Members of the media, see our press info page.

What's the point of all this? Read our plan for world haiku domination.

"I believe that it is crucial for haiku to tell about the truth as if it were false." -Yatsuka Ishihara.

birdhouse hosting logo