International Haiku Poetry Day Date in the current year: April 17, 2024

International Haiku Poetry Day International Haiku Poetry Day, formerly known as National Haiku Poetry Day, is observed annually on April 17. It was created to celebrate the art of haiku poetry in general and English-language haiku in particular.

Haiku is a type of short form poetry that originated in Japan. A traditional Japanese haiku poem is composed of 17 phonetic units (called on in Japanese and sometimes translated as syllables) divided into three metrical phrases in a 5-7-5 pattern. It should contain a kireji (“cutting word”) and a kigo (a phrase or word associated with a particular season).

The development of haiku is inseparable from the development of another genre of Japanese poetry called renga. Renga is a type of collaborative poetry in which alternating stanzas of 5-7-5 and 7-7 phonetic units, often composed by multiple poets, are linked in succession. The opening stanza of a renga poem has always been thought to be of special importance and had its own name, hokku.

In the second half of the 17th century, the hokku began to appear as an independent poem. The standalone hokku was renamed to haiku by the Japanese poet and literary critic Masaoka Shiki in the late 19th century. The term haiku is now applied retrospectively to all standalone hokku poems regardless of when they were composed. Some of the greatest haiku masters (haikai) include Matsuo Basho, Uejima Onitsura, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa, and the aforementioned Masaoka Shiki.

After the Meiji Restoration that ended the self-imposed isolation of Japan, the first English translations of traditional Japanese haiku were published, inspiring English-language poets to write their own haiku in their native language. Haiku poems written in English usually consist of three lines and 17 syllables in a 5-7-5 pattern, often contain little to no capitalization and punctuation, and typically focus on nature or the seasons.

The celebration of National Haiku Poetry Day was initiated by Sari Grandstaff, an American high school librarian, poet, and the author of the blog Haikutopia. She chose to celebrate it in April because it is National Poetry Month in the United States. The celebration of the holiday has been coordinated by The Haiku Foundation since 2012, and its status was changed from national to international in 2015.

The Haiku Foundation sponsors three events held on the occasion of International Haiku Poetry Day: the HaikuLife Film Festival, the EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration, and International Haiku Poetry Day gatherings. The foundation also encourages haiku lovers around the globe to organize their own events such as poetry readings, haiku writing competitions, presentations, exhibitions, etc.

There are many ways to celebrate International Haiku Poetry Day. You can learn interesting facts about haiku poetry and famous haiku masters, spend some time reading haiku poetry, try your hand at writing haiku poems in your native language, attend a Haiku Poetry Day event near you or organize an event of your own, start learning Japanese, and spread the word about the holiday on social media with the hashtags #InternationalHaikuPoetryDay and #HaikuPoetryDay.

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International Haiku Poetry Day, international observances, cultural observance, haiku poetry, Japanese poetry