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haikaiTALKS: a saturday gathering! ONE-LINE haiku

Updated: Mar 23

haikaiTALKS: ONE-LINE HAIKU - a saturday gathering_under the banyan tree

host: Richa Sharma

4th March, 2023

The World of One-line Haiku

Japanese haiku are monolinear poems, usually printed in a single vertical column. Hence, the practice of writing English haiku in a single horizontal line began many decades ago. The most notable poets have been Janice Bostok, marlene mountain, and Chris Gordon.

Today, one-line haiku along with its modifications is a major alternative to the three-line haiku.

Both monostich and one-line haiku are stand-alone poems containing some complete image or thought. However, there may be some differences between the two. A haiku may contrast two images, whereas a monostich uses a single vivid image or observation.

To understand and explore the evolution of a one-line poem in English-language haiku, I begin with an example of a translation by Hiroaki Sato.

Left on a kitchen table a red flower of a festival


Right under the blue sky, I don't wear a hat: the haiku and prose of Hōsai Ozaki; translated By Hiroaki Sato. Stone Bridge Press, 1993.

Ozaki Hōsai (1885-1926) was a Japanese poet who began writing free-form haiku in a colloquial style, around 1916. His work discovers the mystery of existence in the common and the elusive in life.

Free-verse haiku is a one-line poem free from the seventeen-syllable form in the classical rhythm units of five and seven syllable units that was traditional from the time of Bashō (1644-94). It grew out of the new haiku movement that followed the death of Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). One of Shiki's successor, Kawahigashi Heikigodō (1873-1937) broke with Shiki's approach and strove toward complexity. Ogiwara Seisensui pushed Heikigodō's efforts further in 1912 and 1913. Hōsai became a follower of Ogiwara Seisensui, and started to contribute to the free-verse magazine Sōun (Stratus) founded by Seisensui in 1911.

Ozaki Hōsai was an unusual poet. He remained torn between the attachment to this world and his rejection of it.

At Shōdo Island, where Hōsai spend the last eight months, he wrote of a sparrow's footsteps:

I know the footsteps of the sparrow walking on the mat

Here, the verb “know” implies “here I am, aware” emphasizing the presence of the poet.

Hiroaki Sato's superb translations preserve the one-line form to maintain the poet's originality of discoveries.

Concluding with a favourite that you might also like:

I release a turtle into noon-deep water

I think we can also begin to observe the smallest thing to create a one-line poem in English.



Schuster, Anne. Coetzee, Erica. To the Islands – a creative writing workbook. Tiber Tree Press, 2014.


Right under the blue sky, I don't wear a hat: the haiku and prose of Hōsai Ozaki; translated By Hiroaki Sato. Stone Bridge Press, 1993.

Please feel free to share your views and poems. I look forward to this important phase of learning and exploration.

Thank you!


<> <> <> Thanks a lot, Richa, for agreeing to host this feature. I'm sure all of us are interesting in knowing more about one-line haiku. Yeah! Let the game begin!

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