Characteristics of American Haiku
If there is such a thing as American haiku—and commentators around the world insist there is—it proves elusive in the actual telling. Like any vast agglomeration of multiple sources and loosely-defined ends, what mostly characterizes American haiku would be its diversity, and it is this diversity which impedes any sort of clear explication. This attempt to express the essence of the haiku we practice in the United States (and for the purpose of this discussion I am treating “American” as referring to the United States) should be understood with this proviso.
We should begin by identifying the debt which American haiku owes to being conducted in the English language. Through no effort of its own, American haiku has the privilege and advantage of utilizing the language globally preferred in our time for matters of commerce, science, scholarship, diplomacy and much else. It is entirely possible that the contributions of American haiku to the burgeoning of the genre would be considerably muted were it not for this circumstance. Add to this that the United States is a large and populous country. Though a very tiny proportion of its inhabitants has anything to do with haiku, because of its size this still amounts to the second-largest haiku audience in the world in terms of sheer numbers, though it is ranked much lower when reckoned per capita. These factors have much to do with the relative weight of American haiku within the larger haiku community.
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