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An argument for haikus

by AJ Birt 9 days ago in social commentary
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Why is there a base word limit?

An argument for haikus
Photo by AJ on Unsplash

Word limits are often the noose that hangs creativity.

Consider; you're writing away merrily, thinking you've smashed every important point in an argument, or hit every plot in your story. Then you realise you have a deadline that requires 1000 more words, so you rush out something at half-enthusiasm to purely fulfil an expectation.

This expectation has stifled the ability for haikus to be published in this 'Poems' community. I'm aware that the minimum word count of 100 words is far lower than any other community, but the very fact that syllable based poems (rather than word based) are rejected shows a certain irony within this band of poets.

Poetry has always been about making art, about being true and being pure. What is purer than a haiku? Simple syllables being used to express profound emotion, usually surrounding issues of nature or the soul. Haikus are something many of us will have come across in poetry books, or compilations, or even whilst scrolling online. You've probably written one or two in your time, even if it was just in kindergarten. They evoke introspection and encourage the use of a thesauraus, at the very least. As an art form to encourage the brain and heal the body, they are perfect.

So why, I wonder, does this community have a word limit that forbids haikus? Of course, one could publish a collection, but often the individualism of the haiku is what gives it its potency.

The word limit is likely to prevent spam admissions, people looking for a quick buck or to troll world-weary readers. However, this haiku conundrum does make me wonder if there should not be a tag that allows haikus only - a separate community, perhaps.

But there again we see a problem. Poetry is consistently about bringing people together, about admissions of the purest kind. To separate one of the oldest sub-forms purely because of a word count seems both detrimental and ironic.

I would be fascinated to hear others' thoughts on this. Whether I'm just talking nonsense, unnecessarily segregating a specific form of poetry, or whether others might agree.

Regardless, I think we can all agree that poetry is something that should, at its heart, run freely.

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About the author

AJ Birt

History nerd who likes to live in a fictional world... also pretty gay.

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Comments (20)

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  • Janno Vinoabout 10 hours ago

    So very true.

  • Kendall Defoea day ago

    I know what you mean; I have things I want to say... Damn, I'm out of space! ;)

  • Wonderful! I agree. sent a suggestion to vocal in an email hopefully agree :) 575 right?

  • So very true. There is a power in being able to express a notion through haiku. Hard hitting nuggets of wisdom for sure!

  • Ward Norcutt6 days ago

    I don't know...it seemed a little wordy....some tough editing love perhaps? hahahahaha - most of my favourite poems are shorter (and stories, for that matter). there are many arguments out there, but one thing of which I am certain is that each poem has its own story - the length and breadth of it.

  • Keep up the excellent work. Awesome.

  • great text. Amazing..

  • Laura Lann7 days ago

    I agree and feel similar frustrations. Sometimes poems are just short, even when they aren't haiku. It seems oddly limiting for a poetry section. I have so many poems that will never see this page because they are short and needed not a single word more.

  • Krysta Dawn7 days ago

    Haiku really doesn't get the credit it deserves sometimes. Putting so much meaning in a few words is challenging to say the least. I'd say, though, just publish a collection of haikus as a single post to meet the word count. Great post!

  • Jessi7 days ago

    agreed. free the poetry!

  • Kylara7 days ago

    To be honest, I am not a huge haiku fan. However, I agree on your point about word counts/limits!

  • I love haikus, and just being able to write freely in general. Word counts/ limits bother me, and I think they do not help me as a writer. I want to write what I want, how I want, when I want...not try to reach some word count. This isn't me working on my novel, this is me sharing a poem or some info.

  • I remember having to write haiku in school. I did not enjoy it. 6th grade me hated rules of any kind. But adult me loves the beauty and simplicity of the art form. It would be cool if there was a place for it here.

  • I completely agree with you!!!! I love haikus!!!! There is a raw beauty in the brevity of haikus. They are succinct, and there in lies the art of powerful words that, like you said, that evokes introspection! I absolutely loved how you expressed your point of view! Thank you for your voice!!!!

  • I have the opposite problem with stories. There is little unlike more than running my mouth and I struggle terribly with keeping stuff short enough. It makes me feel like my stuff is weak and rushed. I wish there were no limits either way!

  • If my poems are less than 100 words I write an introduction, there are always ways around limits. Here is one of mine on the haiku form (and others) https://vocal.media/poets/ok-haiku?via=mike

  • Brenton F8 days ago

    Exactly! I agree entirely and not just Haiku. Scrambling to meet the limit more often than not just dilutes or lessens the piece. I was able to "grey area" it with this: https://vocal.media/poets/the-100-word-barrier - more of a workaround than a solution!

  • Blake O'Connor8 days ago

    I’m team Haiku!

  • Write more than one haiku. I've used them before to write out stories. Sure, one the 17 syllables for a maximum of 17 words allowed isn't enough for Vocal, so use more than one.

  • Julia9 days ago

    a lone drunk poet makes bold arguments; forgets the comments section :P

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