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Frogpond 46.1 • 2023

Museum of Haiku
Literature Award

Haiku & Senryu

Essay 1 - Repetition in Haiku

Essay 2 - Punctuation Words in English Haiku



Book Reviews

Haiku Society of America


Punctuation Words in English Haiku

by Randy Brooks

Punctuation Words in English Haiku
(complete PDF version)

Here is a sample excerpt from the opening page of this essay:

question mark, semi-
colon, dash: a squirrel
crosses the street

Pat Tompkins, Modern Haiku 48:1 (2017), 105

This is a great haiku to begin this essay examining references to punctuation in English haiku. Loaded with Punctuation Words in English Haiku and actual examples of punctuation, Pat Tompkins shows in this haiku that we know how punctuation guides us through our reading journeys. In this case, we have a scene of a squirrel crossing the street. Through the list of Punctuation Words in English Haiku, we can imagine just how the squirrel starts with a hesitating question, then goes part way into the street, and finally dashes the rest of the way across. This is an excellent haiku because it is not about punctuation. It employs our knowledge of punctuation (as readers, writers, and editors) to understand the squirrel’s perspective as it crosses the street. It highlights the way we understand that punctuation indicates pauses, relationships, and tone or voice in written text. Tompkins taps into her readers’ understanding of the functions of various types of punctuation, a sort of literacy consciousness, which evidently can be applied to an experience in nature.

On his website, Grace Guts, Michael Dylan Welch has posted an article he wrote in 1996, “Punctuation in Haiku.” Welch provides a synopsis of types of punctuation, which I will use throughout this essay. Here is the brief overview by Welch:

“The first type of punctuation is pause punctuation, which includes the comma, semicolon, and period. ... A second type of punctuation shows relationships as well as providing a pause. These marks include the colon, the dash, and the ellipsis. These pauses are also endowed with specific qualities of relationship. The colon, for example, marks expectation or addition — and says, essentially, that this equals that, which is often too heavy- handed. In haiku, both the colon and the dash show some sort ...

[feature continues for several more pages] . . .

Brooks, Randy. "Punctuation Words in English Haiku." Frogpond 46.1, Winter, 2023, 130-161.

This excerpt inclues the first page of the feature: page 130. The complete feature includes pages 130-161. To read the complete feature, click on the link to the PDF version:

Punctuation Words in English Haiku
(complete PDF version)