Updated: May 14
haikaiTALKS: haiku and more! a saturday gathering_under the banyan tree
host: Kala Ramesh
13th May, 2023
I have a new request and a suggestion to make.
For this week - we will take zip haiku for study. Sample poems are given. Read and internalise them. Then tell your readers how you understood them.
For your own poems: Only two zip haiku per week, per prompt, per poet.
First post: When you post, you'll make your first post as a comment on anyone's zip haiku, which is posted as an example.
You'll give your reason/s why you like it or why you don't like it. Whether you understand it or not. Second post: This will be your zip.
Third post: this will be your 2nd zip. Please give your feedback on others' commentary and poems too.
For better interaction, please stagger your posts. Only one poem can be posted per day (in 24 hours) in all our forums.
<> <> <>
I attempted zip haiku just four months into haiku (May 2005). Being a music student I was fascinated by its internal pauses.
So I wrote to John, at that time I hardly knew anything about him. Later on, I have written a lot of renku with him as the 'lead poet - sabaki.'
What is a zip haiku?
Created by the late John E. Carley, some 25 years back (not sure of the exact date)
The zip is untitled. It comprises 15 syllables (7+8 or 8+7) over two lines. Each line has a pause indicated by a triple space (caesura). Look at the examples given.
Zip (being similar to a two-line haiku) will have a line break.
It uses syntactic disjuncture
John says - "When writing zips the pause-weight of the line break is stronger than that
of the caesura."
"Basically, syntactic disjuncture is a break in the flow of words such as would be marked, in prose, by a period (full stop) or colon. In spoken language, it is marked by a longish pause. In terms of haiku prosody, a syntactic disjuncture is what the Japanese call a 'kire'. In the English language, three-line haiku is that point, at the end of line one or two, which is often emphasised by an em-dash and is sometimes referred to as a 'cut'. In sum, in a two-image haiku it is the point with articulates the juxtaposition."
"The prosody of the zip school seeks to mirror the expressive flexibility of the classic Japanese haiku and renku stanzas whilst preserving the key concept of strict form. This approach has no specific bearing on the subject or tone. The Zip School echoes the poet James Karkoski who stated: "Haiku is a stanza form which is able to accommodate any type of writing sensibility."
<> <> <>
All in John's words: -----Original Message----- From: John Carley [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: 24 August 2005 23:46 To: tlrelf; nonesuch (my email id in 2005 was 'nonesuch!) Subject: syntactic disjuncture
NOUN:Disjunction; disunion; separation.
VARIANT FORMS:or syn·tac·ti·cal (-t-kl)
ADJECTIVE:Of, relating to, or conforming to the rules of syntax.
ETYMOLOGY:Greek suntaktikos, putting together, from suntaktos, constructed,
from suntassein, to construct. See syntax.
NOUN:1a. The study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence
structure are combined to form grammatical sentences. c. The pattern of
formation of sentences or phrases in a language.
Hi both, the above is from the American Heritage Dictionary. So what does it
mean in practice? Basically, a syntactic disjuncture is a break in the flow
of words such as would be marked, in prose, by a period (full stop) or
colon. In spoken language, it is marked by a longish pause. In terms of
haiku prosody, a syntactic disjuncture is what the Japanese call a 'kire'. In
the English language three line haiku it is that point, at end of line one or
two, which is often emphasised by an em-dash and is sometimes referred to as
a 'cut'. In sum, in a two-image haiku it is the point with articulates the
When writing zips the pause-weight of the line break is stronger than that
of the caesura, therefore, in all but the most unusual of cases, where a
poem employs a syntactic disjuncture this will coincide with the line break.
the year is turned from gold to grey
this old pint pot half empty
warfare on the radio
a frog crouches in the garden
brushing the flies from my face
One can of course play with these properties whereby the reader must decide
on the nature of the syntax being suggested
Of my own work the larger proportion are in fact 'single image' poems, at
first sight anyway. That is, they do not use a marked syntactic disjuncture
Kala, you query whether zips should read vertically as well as horizontally.
'No' is the short answer. It has been observed by a number of people that
there is a high degree of transfer between the vertical elements, and this
is my own experience too. It is a useful tool for building layers of
resonance, but it has never been my intention to suggest that the zip
functions as a kind of rebus or word puzzle. A number of people have written
entire sequences which may be read vertically and horizontally but
personally I regard such things as intellectual rather than artistic
achievements. Indeed, in order to discourage such notions I now no longer
suggest centring the poems on the paired caesurae. As you will see from the
examples above I lay my own work out in a looser manner.
I hope this makes sense!
Best wishes, John
For me, the zip, as John designed it, has a pleasing rhythm, natural to the English language, and the two-line format with caesuras makes it visually pleasing and easy to read. When it comes to understanding pauses and silences, it's good practice material!
Would you want to try one? It's great fun!
buoyed up on the rising tide 7 syllables
a fleet of headboards bang the wall 8 syllables
John E Carley (Magma No 19, 2001)
warfare on the radio 7 syllables
a frog crouches in the garden 8 syllables
John E Carley
monsoons begin with each day's rains 8 syllables
the hills turn greener greener 7 syllables
Kala Ramesh Beyond the Horizon Beyond 2017 Enjoy!