When I was looking in my folder of free Dover clipart for this post I came across the following a haiku I liked by James Kirkup:
Haiku should be just
small stones dropping down a well
with a small splash
I loved this haiku but I found it strange because it was given as an example of the 5-7-5 syllable rule for haiku. But after I read it and counted the syllables it appeared to me the last line is only 4 syllables. George thought maybe you could make it work by pronouncing splash as two syllables. Anyway, it reminded me that you needn't always follow the rules. I struggle with this concept because I am a rule follower. And I really struggled with it when writing the poems for Zen Kitty and Zen Birds. In the end I decided to write "haiku-like" poems (meaning I used however many syllables I wanted) for both those books. I made this decision after reading a great book one day in the bookstore. (I wish I knew the name of the book but it was just something I randomly picked up one day.) The book stated that many of the haiku written by famous Japanese poets did not follow this pattern and most definitely don't follow the pattern when translated. It went on to encourage the haiku poet to just use as few words as possible to get the idea across and to not obsess about the number of syllables. That was all this rule follower needed to let go. And even though the above haiku does follow the "rules", I now feel completely happy to walk on the wild side when writing haiku. If that means I am now a rogue bad-ass haiku writer (or just a bad haiku writer) then so be it.