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My Haiku Issue

They Are Becoming Like Garlic To Dracula For Me

By Mike Singleton - MikeydredPublished 3 months ago Updated 3 months ago 4 min read


When Vocal gave us the High-Ku challenge I was quite pleased, but a Japanese friend informed me that what I was writing was not actually haiku but in fact senryū. You can read about the two forms in the links below, but a haiku should include a preferably implied seasonal reference and a “cutting word” to redirect the poem. Vocal completely ignored this in the requirements and when I checked, I don't think one of the winning entries was a true haiku, though I may be wrong.

Because the haiku is so short, Vocal reduced the hundred-word requirement for poetry, which suddenly meant that people started submitting many entries. Some people doing over a hundred and that just flooded everywhere with short poems that actually affected me badly because I do like variety.

This would have been fine but they have completely removed the word requirement and I have just had a one-word “poem” published which, in context, is very good but it just has one word in it and really that should not be allowed. It was published but was then moved to drafts by Vocal so I added some context, at least someone looks at it.

After a note from Cathy Holmes, she told me that a piece had been published with no content so I thought I would try it (I feel like Andy Warhol or Yoko Ono doing this) and Vocal published this but later moved it to drafts so I added explanatory context.

And There Is More

Vocal has done away with the word limit and had three more “haiku” challenges, none of which require a true haiku form. I have seen some that don’t even conform to the syllable count and it has got to the point where when I see someone posting their “last haiku of the day” I just don’t read it. It really seems to me that the form is being treated as a quick fix, and almost all the Top Stories in poets are faux-haiku. It really reeks of laziness on Vocal’s part and the continual Top Story award just encourages more haiku. Why put in too much effort when you get get a five-dollar award for seventeen syllables that don’t have to rhyme?

I do drop into some writer’s haiku and see that they have included preambles and explanations and I shouldn’t be missing these because people are putting in the effort and that should be rewarded by at least a read from me, so my apologies to all that have put in the effort, but that I have not yet read.

It is ironic that my poetry writing really took off from Vocal's Summer Sonnet Challenge, but since there has been no defined form asked for until their pseudo-haiku challenges. One should be enough and then they should look at other formats to keep people's interest, although in reality, because their faux-haiku requirements are so limited they are bound to get loads of entries with people doing hundreds.

But Hope Is Not Lost

There are so many talented writers on Vocal and not every poet limits themselves to haiku, and haiku is a wonderful format to try and get so much meaning into a few words. I was actually thinking of interspersing this story with senryū written on the fly such as:

I Am So Sorry

I Never Read Your Opus

I Should Try Harder

I was considering submitting this under Poets as I wouldn't have to hit six hundred words but that would be lazy of me.


I wish Vocal had a suggestion box or would choose another poetic format for a future challenge, but just at the moment, it's the Vocal Haiku Railroad all the way.

Please Mister Vocal

Can We Have Another Verse

Type For A Challenge?

The music I am including is "Thomas The Rhymer" by Steeleye Span which is appropriate for a poetry piece and you can read about the subject here.

Here is a piece I wrote on how I write poetry with links to many of the forms that people can write.

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Comments (34)

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  • Mark Grahamabout a month ago

    Do your thing Mike.

  • Go ahead, Mike Speak up❗💬💜🎉💯Congratulations on Top Story❗❗❗

  • Lea Springer3 months ago

    I was always under the impression that Haiku was to have a nature theme. I agree with you that it has been over-used and not in the correct format. I am guilty of that myself...and then it becomes just dreck!

  • Allie Bickerton3 months ago

    Congrats on another top story! I personally love reading and writing haiku and challenging myself to go super traditional with it. But, I also wish that we were given prompts for other forms of short poetry too. Even giving us a senryu challenge specifically might reach more people and educate them about the differences between the two very similar forms. I thought that the term, “traditional haiku” implied the existence of a “non-traditional haiku.” I didn’t realize that all non-traditional haikus are not haikus at all, but actually senryus. After just submitting over 30 submissions for the Time Capsule Haiku Challenge, I remember you mentioning the difference between the two before, but it never fully clicked until now…for why, I’m not sure. Thanks so much for shedding more light on this and for motivating me to do more of my own research! You also inspired and motivated me to come up with one of my strongest haikus to date, (Take It Slow) as I challenged myself to write one that strictly respected tradition. I did my best to include “season” words and not just simply make the first line a nod to nature, included a rhyme scheme, and what I believe to be a cutting word at the end. I have challenged myself further and pulled one of my Time Capsule Challenge entries to re-work it. It was one where I also challenged myself to make it acrostic, and really the only thing keeping it from being considered a true haiku is the fact that it lacks a turning word and that my nod to nature doesn’t imply a specific season. I realized that where the last line delivered a lot of emotional impact, that my precious syllables could have been used more wisely. Anyway, thanks again! 😉

  • Alexander McEvoy3 months ago

    I dislike writing poetry in general, though I tried for the most recent challenge. But I sometimes enjoy reading it, and I’m bored of the constant Haiku’s (or as explained in your article haiku-adjacent) and would like some variety

  • Sarah Jane3 months ago

    I hate the 100 word requirement tbh. I think it's bullshit, and puts unnecessary restrictions on poets freedom of expression. I've written so many epic poems that I would love to share that are under 100 words.

  • Thavien Yliaster3 months ago

    Hey Vocal, how about a limerick challenge? You could also do an acrostic. There's so many different formats. Nice one on You for getting another Top Story, Mike. You are like the king of top stories. Still, even with being able to make tons of senryu seemingly from thin air, I would like them to try other forms. The quadku was nice, but I'd like to see Vocal do a challenge where people make stories in poetic form. I know I've made several before. Heck, even a specific format for such stories would be great. A more Shakespearean twist would be nice, and classy.

  • Abby Kay Mendonca3 months ago

    I’ve always heard that haiku structure has to do with the way things translate from Japanese and heard it would be too short to due to differences in the pronunciation of languages. I think that this is our closest adaptation as Americans. So maybe we should call it American-Haiku? Also, Vocal asks for creative, original, or new ways to use this format. The basically open it to interpretation

  • Gal Mux3 months ago

    I do enjoy the haikus. I have also submitted hundreds of entries and I do not mind them continuing. I do see the points you are trying to put across though.

  • Sonia Heidi Unruh3 months ago

    You make excellent points here. Selfishly, I simply love writing and reading haiku -- er, senryu -- and I do hope Vocal continues offering this type of challenge from time to time <ahem>. But learning and working within other forms also is beneficial and can bring surprising joy.

  • Loryne Andawey3 months ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story! And yes, I think we've beaten the haiku horse to death. It's time for a new poetry format.

  • I am hoping for a poetry challenge of a different style. Haiku is cool and challenging and fun, but I would like to see how Vocal would stretch us as writers in another poetic way.

  • Lauren Elizabeth3 months ago

    Had no idea about the differences in Haiku and Senryū. Thanks for sharing! I've always just known Haiku to be 5,7,5. Also I completely agree about there being too many Haiku challenges, and the word limit reducing effort. I submitted two poems to the most recent challenge (not expecting them to even be seen amongst the flood), but I would love a poem challenge that requires a bit more effort. It's called a "challenge" for a reason, right?

  • JBaz3 months ago

    It still confuses the crap out of me. I do like your explanation though

  • Naomi Gold3 months ago

    I completely agree with this! I have only written one haiku since I’ve been on Vocal (for a little over a year now). I know it is not a true haiku. Poetry isn’t my forte, I just wanted to try. I hope Vocal comes up with challenges other than haiku, because lately I’m not inspired.

  • PK Colleran3 months ago

    Super good article, Mike. My grown nephew, who was recently certified in Japanese (he started studying online as a kid who was crazy about Pokémon) also pointed out to me that each "syllable" is actually a character in Japanese. That makes the haiku a visual form as well as verbal. When we try to write a haiku in English, it becomes something else altogether. Add title, subtitle, and photo as we do in Vocal, we have something new. (I've actually been thinking of writing all this up to publish.) Thanks for your excellent Top Story.

  • Heather Hubler3 months ago

    Congratulations on Top Story, my friend :)

  • Carminum3 months ago

    Congrats on top story. I would love an even shorter form: an aphorism contest with less than n number of words would be ideal. But maybe with a strict limit on submissions.

  • Donna Renee3 months ago

    Glad to see this as a top story!! I’ve learned a lot about haiku rules from you!

  • Harmony Kent3 months ago

    I, too, mistakenly thought I had to write ‘proper’ Haiku on the first of those competitions, and couldn’t believe the winning entries didn’t ‘conform’. So, I went back and reread the criteria and realised they were bare-bones syllable count. So, on the subsequent Haiku competitions, I loosened up considerably and just had fun. What I didn’t do was submit hundreds of entries. I agree with your thoughts on introducing alternative poetic forms, and I also love short-form poetry, so lowering the minimum limit is something which pleases me. Not to the point of one or no words, though! Thanks for sharing, Mike, and well expressed 💕🙂

  • Melissa Ingoldsby3 months ago

    Love this so much brother. Congratulations on this win

  • Shahbaz alam3 months ago


  • Alfiya3 months ago

    Well done Mike.

  • Meg3 months ago

    Had no clue about the difference between haikus and Senryū poems. I do enjoy reading and writing what people have been calling haikus, but good to know the distinction. Thank you for sharing this, interesting read

  • I’m ready to move on from haiku’s how about a sonnet challenge 14 lines equal length of about 14 syllables in each and make it rhyme

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