This is similar to this question but not exactly the same. I have seen haikus in the following formats:

  • The traditional / which is in five-seven-five / and is most common

  • But I have also read that some
    USA writers / encourage using formats / such as three-five-three

Have seen / two-three-two / confused

But is this correct / and can there be multiple / formats for haikus?

Thanks @Shoover for Haiku corrections.

  • 1
    The underlying problem really is that the classic 5-7-5 is a rather literal translation of the rules from Japanese and doesn't necessarily make sense in English or other languages. That is why some people encourage freeer formats and others try to stick to what they got told once ago. At the end of the day, counting exact syllables just doesn't really matter all that much, or not too much more than the actual content of the poem. The answers to the linked question already touch upon that point, as does this related question. Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 19:56
  • Poetic forms are flexible. There are lots of sonnets which have untraditional rhyme schemes (like Shelley's Ozymandias), or which aren't in iambic pentameter (like Shakespeare's sonnet 145). The traditional haiku is in 5-7-5, and you can say that anything else isn't a haiku. But you will miss some good poetry that way.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 20:09
  • 1
    Almost perfect! But may I suggest "U.S.-based writers" (5 syllables) instead of "American writers" (6 syllables)? And either "Also" or "Have seen" (2 syll.) instead of "Also seen" (3 syll.)?
    – shoover
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 21:29
  • @shoover thank you for catching that. I will edit it in. Was writing quickly when I was posting this.
    – Joe Kerr
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 22:13
  • @CahirMawrDyffrynæpCeallach Please correct me if I'm wrong, but what I think you are saying is that in the translation from Japanese to English, the format got jumbled so that now some poets experiment with it loosely, such as using different formats.
    – Joe Kerr
    Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 22:19


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