Editors’ Blog

6 words? Try 17 syllables.

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

By Elizabeth Minkel

The six-word memoir might be the “American haiku,” but lovelorn poets and purists can show their true-to-form 5/7/5 skills over at Heartbreak Haiku, a collective story project run by NYU grad student Zanna Marsh. “Your best pals are happy to listen to your rambling, romantic sob stories once, maybe twice. But don’t be tempted to go on and on,” Marsh writes on the front page. “Channel your obsessive thoughts, weepiest self-pitying moments, and bouts of vengeful fury into the concise, elegant Japanese poetic form HAIKU.”

The tag categories—bitterness, revenge, confusion, longing, resignation—span the full range of post-break-up emotions. But the haiku form turns potentially furious rants into weirdly-Zen-like, self-contained moments: “I thought you’d visit/ New York City is so close/ the phone doesn’t ring.” Heartbreak Haiku wants your 17 syllables. “Submit your haiku here; your comrades in frustration & devastation & misery & rage will read them…and you might even feel better.” The ultimate challenge? The six-word haiku. The bar has been set. Get counting.

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