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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Updated: 28 April 2024

Ongoing Call for Cheribun and
Haibun Stories, and Tanka Tales

MacQ is especially interested in these three hybrids. In particular, those which include elements of fiction as well as “faction,” pieces that use story-telling techniques such as dialogue and plot, and incorporate more embellishment than journalistic reportage, while also using techniques of cheribun, haibun, and/or tanka prose.

“Amen” to these words from Bob Lucky, former content editor at Contemporary Haibun Online (CHO):

“...as an editor, I read a lot of haibun that is just one damn fact after another. Memoir and autobiography are the trickiest bits of nonfiction around because in order to tell the Truth you have to lie. There is artifice in art.”

—Quoted with permission from “Random Praise: Tim Gardiner’s ‘Skeleton Wood’” (CHO, July 2017)

To give you an idea of what MacQ publisher, Clare MacQueen, is looking for, nearly three dozen examples follow. They are listed first by the less-common forms such as cheribun stories and tanka tales, and then, within the forms, in alpha order by author’s last name. These works include various degrees of artfulness (and often a good bit of humor) to tell their Truths:

General Guidelines for Submissions of Cheribun, Haibun, and Tanka Prose:

Electronic submissions only, via MacQ’s Submittable page.

Maximum word count per piece is a thousand, including the title, prose, and micro-poem verses, as well as any epigraphs and author footnotes. Multiple cherita, haiku, senryu, and/or tanka within a single piece are acceptable, even encouraged.

MacQueen’s Quinterly also encourages experimentation and stretching of conventional boundaries; after all, haibun and tanka prose, fluid hybrids by nature, are “terra incognita—vast and only marginally explored” by writers working in the English language (Jeffrey Woodward, editor of Haibun Today).

However, even unconventional works benefit from refining and polishing. And highly polished pieces stand the best chance of publication in MacQ and of winning prizes.

In other words, we look forward to reading your best work. Thanks so much!

Exceptional works may be nominated for annual awards such as Best Small Fictions, Best of the Net, the Pushcart Prize, Best Microfiction, the Contemporary Haibun anthology, and The Touchstone Award for Individual Haibun. We’re thrilled to report these highlights:

  • A Thousand Thens by Claire Everett and What’s Underneath by Rich Youmans were among the four recipients of the 2023 Touchstone Award for Individual Haibun.

  • Thirteen haibun from MacQ were selected for publication in the anthology Contemporary Haibun 19 (Red Moon Press, 2024).

  • Bob Lucky’s haibun sequence “Scribble Away: Notes from Bahrain, March 2022” was shortlisted for the 2022 Touchstone Award for Individual Haibun.

  • Seven haibun from MacQ were selected for publication in the anthology Contemporary Haibun 18 (Red Moon Press, 2023).

  • Thirteen haibun and one haiga from MacQ were selected for publication in the anthology Contemporary Haibun 17 (Red Moon Press, 2022).

  • A haibun story by Rich Youmans, After the Dream, the Dream Remains, which Jack Cooper and Clare MacQueen published in KYSO Flash (Spring 2019), was selected for reprinting in The Best Small Fictions 2020 anthology.

  • An ekphrastic haibun story by Harriot West entitled Picking Sunflowers for Van Gogh, first published in Issue 6 of KYSO Flash online (aka KF-6), was selected for reprinting in The Best Small Fictions 2017; and Dan Gilmore’s haibun story Hackmuth’s Mannequin Dream (from KF-5) was among the finalists listed in that anthology.

  • Camouflage by Charles Hansmann (in KF-3) was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2016, and Bob Lucky’s haibun story The Current Situation (KF-4) was among the finalists.

Tips and Resources:

If you’re new to haibun, then you may be surprised to learn that:

  1. The plural of haibun is haibun, and “...the plural of haiku is haiku (think sheep and fish)...”

  2. “...syllable counting is not at all an essential element to writing haiku well,” as poet and editor Lynne Rees writes (see link to her conference paper a few paragraphs below).

Here at MacQ, we happily agree there’s no need to adhere to 5-7-5 in the haiku sequences and/or haibun you submit for our consideration—especially if doing so results in stilted or unnatural-sounding lines, rather than distilled micro-poems.

Here are just a couple of examples of 5-7-5 structure that Clare admires:

  1. two haiku by Gary S. Rosin, (a shiver of moon) and (whispers in the air); and

  2. a haiku sequence by William Cullen, Jr., Driving Cross Country. Clare also appreciates this sequence as a blend of the traditional and the contemporary, a timely commentary, and a concise travelogue (with a nod to Bashō).

Recommended reading for those who are new to writing haiku: this paper by poet, editor, novelist, and author of five books, Lynne Rees:

Haiku: a poetry of absence or an absence of poetry? (subtitled “Minimalism in Contemporary English Language Haiku”), presented at the PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) 2015 Conference at Canterbury University, Kent, United Kingdom (16 July 2015).

The author’s goals, in part: to “illustrate that haiku can be, or should be muscular enough to withstand scrutiny, close reading” and to “expunge their reputation as mainstream poetry’s country bumpkin cousin: naïve and embarrassing to have around in sophisticated company.”

Additional articles by expert practitioners, including philosophies and how-to tips:

  1. Plaiting Poem & Prose: The Art of Braided Haibun by Rich Youmans in contemporary haibun online (Issue 18.2, August 2022)

  2. Some Personal Ideas About Writing Haibun by the late and very much missed David Cobb (in Haibun Today [Vol. 5, No. 4, December 2011]), still pertinent a decade later

  3. A Game of Tag: Gary LeBel on Tanka Prose (in Haibun Today [Vol. 6, No. 3, September 2012]): In this interview with Patricia Prime, LeBel says that his works are “a mix of personal experience, thumbnail sketch, pure fiction, fantasy, boldface lie, story and/or myth (and often more than a pinch of hyperbole)...”

  4. Modern English-Language Haibun by Ray Rasmussen (in KYSO Flash [Issue 5, Spring 2016])

  5. Form in Haibun: An Outline by Jeffrey Woodward (in Haibun Today [Vol. 4, No. 4, December 2010]), for those who prefer a comprehensive, more technical discussion of the various forms of haibun, including numerous examples of formats

  6. And finally, by J. Zimmerman, a summarized history of prose-with-poetry works in Classical, Modern, and Contemporary Japanese literary traditions; article includes references and a list of suggested readings: What English-Language Haibun Poets Can Learn From Japanese Practices: the Mysteries of an Almost-Heard Birdsong First Autumn Abroad (Contemporary Haibun Online [Vol. 9, No. 4, January 2014])

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