In addition to new works of flash fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and prose poems, we are
especially interested in original, unpublished haibun stories and tanka tales. That is,
pieces that include fictional elements as well as “factional,” works that
use story-telling techniques such as dialogue and plot, and that incorporate more
embellishment than journalistic reportage, while also using techniques of haibun
and/or tanka prose.
We say “Amen” to these words from Bob Lucky, 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
—Quoted with permission from “Random Praise:
Tim Gardiner’s ‘Skeleton Wood’” (CHO, July 2017)
So you can get an idea of what we’re looking for, we offer a range of examples
below. These works (13 haibun stories, five tanka tales, and a couple of hybrids)
include various degrees of artfulness to tell their Truths:
General Guidelines for Submissions of Haibun and Tanka Prose:
Electronic submissions only, via
Maximum word count per piece is a thousand, including the title, prose, and haiku,
senryu, or tanka verses, as well as any author footnotes. Multiple haiku, senryu,
and/or tanka within a single piece are acceptable, even encouraged.
We also encourage 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. In fact,
highly polished pieces stand the best chance of winning prizes and publication in
In other words, we look forward to reading your best work. Thanks so much!
Exceptional works may be nominated for The Best Small Fictions, Best of the
Net, the Pushcart Prize, and/or Best Microfiction. We’re thrilled
to report that:
In February 2018, Bob Lucky’s haibun story
Gratitude, first published in Issue 6 of KYSO
Flash online (aka KF-6), won second place in the VERA, an annual Readers
Choice award for best short fiction (500 words or fewer) sponsored by
Vestal Review, an online flash-fiction magazine now in its 20th year
Another work from KF-6, an ekphrastic haibun story by Harriot West entitled
Picking Sunflowers for Van Gogh, was selected as one
of 55 winners 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 a winner 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:
“...the plural of haiku is haiku (think sheep and fish)...” and
“...syllable counting is not at all an essential element to writing haiku
well,” as poet, editor, and teacher Lynne Rees writes (see link below).
Here at MacQ, we happily agree, so there’s no need to adhere to
5-7-5 in the haibun you submit for our consideration—especially if doing
so results in lines of stilted or unnatural-sounding prose rather than in tiny
Driving Cross Country by William Cullen, Jr., as a fine
example of what our publisher, Clare MacQueen, considers the skillful use
of the 5-7-5 structure. She also appreciates this haiku sequence as a blend
of the traditional and the contemporary, a timely commentary, and a concise
travelogue (tip of the hat to Basho).]
- ⚡ Lynne Rees: Haiku: a poetry of absence or an absence of poetry?
(subtitled “Minimalism in Contemporary English Language Haiku”),
a paper presented at the PALA (Poetics and Linguistics Association) 2015
Conference at Canterbury University, Kent, United Kingdom (16 July 2015)
The author’s goals here: 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
This paper is recommended reading for anyone who’s new to writing haiku!
The following resources include philosophies and how-to tips:
For those who prefer a comprehensive, more technical discussion of the various
forms of haibun, including numerous examples of formats:
Finally, a summarized history of prose-with-poetry works in Classical, Modern, and
Contemporary Japanese literary traditions; article includes references and list of
What English-Language Haibun Poets Can Learn From Japanese Practices:
the Mysteries of an Almost-Heard Birdsong First Autumn Abroad