Editors choice Short Verse : Zip Haiku

Vol 1-2, May 2001

Editors Choice : Short Verse

Select Poetry from the Members of the World Haiku Club

The selections in our “Editor’s Choice” column represent the various genres and styles of poetry practised within the membership and mailing lists of the World Haiku Club. Specific poems are chosen as outstanding contributions. In each issue, one haiku and one poem from another genre are chosen as outstanding contributions.


Short Verse: Zip
how bright they seem…the sudden birds
……the old thorn hedge…spiked with green

zip #105 (jec)

In this issue, World Haiku Review takes a look at John E. Carley’s development of a new haiku analogue poem coined the “zip”. John, a poetry journal editor and WHC member, has been conducting a series of zip lessons and workshops on the mailing list, WHCshortverses. As a Guest Editor for World Haiku Review’s WHCshortverses column, John has chosen examples of zip poetry from submissions which exemplify his theories of construction and content. His essay, ZIP: Form, Freedom and Phonics; an alternative approach to haiku in English also is featured in this issue.

Editor’s Choice presents one of his own poems, as WHCshortverses examines the zip as part of John’s continuing seminar, along with WHC’s theme of challenging conventions in Western haiku.

We asked John, as the author of this alternative approach, to share his best example from his own writing with his understanding of the merits in a well-constructed zip.

  • Like haiku, the primary reading of the poem shows immediacy, and superficially, at least, respects the aesthetics of kigo and shasei.
  • The syntax and metre are natural; the pauses pace the reading, and the poem displays phonic closure.
  • While the image presented is that of a pleasant, welcome return of spring, the poem touches human emotion through the poet’s choice of words. There is a hint of tension between “sudden” and “spiked”, and the word, ‘seem’ is crucial to a mood of uncertainty, perhaps even alienation. Both hedge and birds are spiked with urgency – as if impelled against their will.
  • Abrupt movement in “bright/sudden/spiked” contrasts with the half-rhymes, “seem/green” adding dynamic tension.
  • John intimates a suggestion: that the hedge is a metaphor for the poet —

    Will-he nil-he autumn comes, and what men fondly believe to be “choice” is the product of forces beyond human control.

John raises questions and possible solutions and alternatives for English language haiku in: ZIP: Form, Freedom and Phonics; an alternative approach to haiku in English. 


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