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Haibun, anyone?

May 3, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I discovered haibun, an ancient Japanese literary form combining prose and haiku. Modern American haibun rubs shoulders with other short-short forms such as flash fiction. Of course I had to have a go!

I remembered an experience last summer, walking beside the River Weaver in Cheshire. And here is the result. Hope you like it.


A huge dog of Antarctic origin bounds through the tussocks. His master squats on a stone. Across the river a conveyor clanks through an elevated tunnel connecting the old salt mine to its storage dome. An orange windsock dances in the stiff southwesterly and bedraggled flags flutter.

I’m watching a cormorant fly upstream when I feel the teeth. The huge dog has taken my right wrist between its jaws. His master is oblivious. The cormorant’s wingtips clip the current as the teeth graze my skin.

The dog might have found my wrist in the field and now be offering it back.

“There’s a good lad,” I say, and he drops it.

A kindness

in the wolf’s eyes

charms me.

Paul Beech

Copyright © Paul Beech 2015

From → Poetry

  1. it is a fun style, I have tried it a few times, have read some great pieces!

    • Thanks, Sharmishtha, and welcome to my blog. I’ve always felt most at home creatively in the poetry/prose borderland, so I’m delighted to have discovered haibun – a fun form, as you say.
      All the best with your own writing,

  2. Loving this, you are an amazing talented author. :o)

    • Dear Pat, thank you so much! I enjoy your work too, the way you always put a smile on my face.
      Fond regards,

  3. Paul this Haibun is wonderful, clever, well written and holds one on the edge.
    “Watching a cormorant fly upstream when I feel the teeth. The huge dog has taken my right wrist between its jaws.”
    Then follows the Haiku.

    To me this is really good writing and I do believe this suits your style of writing Paul.



  4. Maureen, thank you, I’m so glad you like ‘Upriver’. It was fun to write and, yes, I did feel haibun might suit me as it blends prose with haiku and is a flexible form ideal for sharing experience in a direct and vivid way. I shall write more.
    Paul x

  5. Enjoyed! I’m glad to see that haibun, unlike standalone haiku, is attracting serious attention outside the haikai literature community.

    warm regards,

    Alan, With Words

    • Thanks, Alan, and welcome to my blog. Yes, haibun should be taken seriously, as indeed should haiku. ‘Upriver’ went down well when I read it at a poetry event on the Wirral recently, and I shall be reading it again in Chester tonight.
      Congratulations on having your “drifting rain” haiku selected for the anthology ‘A Vast Sky’.

      • Thanks Paul,

        In the past I’ve written primarily performance haibun, one such was a commission to perform at Bristol Old Vic. It was a twenty minute set, hence a difficulty to get it ‘paper published’ later on.

        I’m finding a good test for performing a haibun is not to state the type of genre. A haibun should definitely stand on its own two feet whether at a poetry event or a flash fiction event.

        Another good book that I’m in that I’d highly recommend is this one:

        Haiku in English: The First Hundred Years (W. W. Norton 2013)
        ISBN 978-0-393-23947-8

        And look inside page:

        warm regards,

        Alan, With Words

      • Great tip, Alan. I followed it reading in Chester last night and my haibun did seem to stand up okay as the applause was pretty strong with a few whoops thrown in.

        Thanks for the links too.



  6. Great! 🙂

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