Reports from the Field: A Haibun Workshop by Melissa Allen
Melissa Allen gave a participatory workshop on writing haibun at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, this summer, which I attended. She has been writing haibun ever since she took the haibun workshop at Mineral Point given by Roberta Beary four years ago. Melissa talked about the relationship between prose and haiku in haibun and then gave us examples of haiku to stimulate haibun prose responses.
She introduced haibun by quoting various haibun writers, each one emphasizing a different aspect of the function of the haiku. Michael McClintock emphasized the importance of haiku within the context of the prose as an inherent whole—not as an attachment to the prose, and not a fragment. He said that haibun essentially is an "exploration of the wilderness of the self" (World Haiku Review 2.2, 2002). In this context Melissa mentioned that it is important to note that haibun is a linked form with the prose and haiku complementing each other not illustrating; the connection should not be obvious but as if there were an "intuitive leap" between the prose and haiku.
W.F. Owen reiterated this idea and stressed the fact that haiku should not repeat the prose but that the "haiku link offers readers a springboard to multiple, and often unexpected, meanings" (Simply Haiku 4.3).
John Brandi says that haiku in haibun "becomes a kind of imagistic, miniature, sixth-sense portrait of something not described in the prose" (Water Shining Beyond the Fields).
Examples of haibun followed this introduction and a 15 minute writing time was then offered to write haibun stimulated by a couple of haiku that Melissa gave to launch us into writing prose.