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Heliosparrow Poetry Journal

Heliosparrow is a journal devoted to the free expression of poetic thought and creative spaces of thought. Our focused interest regards haiku aesthetics, technique, and style, and how these are instantiated in fresh poems and expansive poetic conceptions. We are into 2024 with more than 150 poets published in over 1,500 posts, over the last four years.

Haiku – There is no dictionary definition of haiku. Connotationally, in English, haiku have been published containing from 1 to over 27 syllables, with a median around 12.5; this quantitatively emulates the brevity of the normative 5-7-5-on haiku in Japanese. Lineation varies, with the ‘monoku’ (one-liner) and three-line haiku being prevalent. Haiku aesthetics is a broad study integrated first within Japanese literary culture, and in modernity extending into richly intercultural literary-aesthetic traditions, including modern and post-modern movements. Important linguistic attributes concern those of disjunction, fragment/phrasal juxtaposition, extreme concision, omission, and brevity. Semantically one finds ambiguity or indeterminacy in haiku regarding the conclusive extraction of any singular meaning or interpretation.

Alterku – Alterku is Heliosparrow coinage for haiku that stretch the normative haiku concept, as commonly and often restrictively (un)seen in publication — extending the haiku form, while retaining aesthetic aspects and elements of haiku technique, style, length, disjunction, etc.

Haibun – In brief, a haibun contains both prose and at least one haiku or poetic couplet with haikulike aspects. A haibun may also extend to multiple paragraphs interspersed with haiku and couplets, often drawing upon the 5-7-5-on and 7-7-on forms derived from the haikai tradition in Japan).

Linked/colab. – Popular, and often collaboratively composed, linked forms include renga, tan-renga, renku, rengay, and others. Recently, the collaborative “parallel” form has arrived. Linking usually involves co-author collaboration on a topical, semantic, or linguistic thread woven though the poem, frequently in a call-response pattern of first: a haiku (usually in three lines), followed by a couplet — and this pattern repeats. This form emulates the approximate 5-7-5-on / 7-7-on sequence found in Japanese haikai forms. Linked poems may also be single-authored. Wikipedia has additionally this to say.

Sequence – Single-author serial haiku (a series of haiku that may be read as a single poem). These include parallels, haikoan, split sequences, semagrams, and others. Such poems retain a strong connection to haiku stylism. Sequence-form poems differ from the linked forms in that no specific linkage in the sequence or series is necessary. (This group often formally intersects with the short poem.)

Prose/poem – This category includes short prose, the short poem, and the prose-poem. In Heliosparrow, these works partake of haiku and/or haibun attributes.

Visual there are four sub-groups combined within this tag. Authors may indicate a preferred type. The four types are explained below:

Vispo (visual poetry) focuses “on the textual materiality of language. The form includes poems written as mathematical equations, collage poems, xerographic pieces that include no words but concentrate on the meaning that has built up within the shapes of letters, and even asemic writings in invented scripts created to mean through shape rather than word. Visual poetry is written for the eye, but its methods and intentions, even in those works most limited in their verbal content, are always poetic, always compelling the reader forward into the transformative power of language.” (Geof Huth)

Visku (visual-ku) a term coined by Cherie Hunter Day in 2022, as intermedia which contains text possessing some of the attributes of haiku, such as brevity, disjunction, etc. Cherie writes, “I see visku as more of a trunk in the [visual poetry] hallway. It is primarily visual and may use features of these other forms, but it maintains some aspects of haiku—a reference to nature, discrete units that act as language elements [mora] without actually forming words, movement from element to element. It’s different from haiga, which is more text-based.”

Haiga Traditionally a style of Japanese painting that incorporates the aesthetics of haikai, usually painted and penned by haiku poets; the haiga combines haiku text with graphical elements. Contemporary artists experiment widely in this style, coupling haiku with intermedia, collage, painting, etc.

Shahai (shashinhaiku; photo haiku)—haiku text combined with photographic work.

Thank you for your interest, Richard Gilbert, editor

Heliosparrow title art by Sabine Miller, site construction and maintenance by Stephen Bailey.