Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist

Hannah enjoying poetry workshop

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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
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Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller

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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Monoku Times Two (or Three...)

March 8, 2018

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, monoku, Robyn Hood Black, one line haiku

Greetings, Poetry Lovers!

Recently I sent my semi-regular batch of new haiku submissions off to journals, and one of the acceptances that came back this week was for a very short monoku. What's a monoku? A one-line haiku. In English-language haiku, this approach has been around for decades. There's something about how condensed and compressed such a poem is, how crystallized, that - as long as it does its job with juxtaposition and layered possibilities of meaning, - I just love.

I'll share the mentioned poem after it's published. Modern Haiku accepted it with a nice note. I can share two others MH published in the current issue, though:

one door closes morning glories

after the hurricane leaf blowers

Modern Haiku, Vol. 49.1, Winter-Spring 2018
poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Looking back, one of my earliest published haiku was a monoku:

rush of wind my imperfect t'ai chi

A Hundred Gourds, March 2012
©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

Several one-line haiku I've had published since then are among my favorites, if I had to pick from my own.

Most of us travel paths in children's lit, and usually I prefer a good book for young readers to a book for adults any day. Books for kids must be precise, concise. Of course, that's something I love about poetry - and, to me, the most concise kind of poetry is haiku. (Maybe the most concise type of haiku is a monoku?)

My personal preference is not for one-word poems or something that seems to be simply a clever word trick, though some of these are published with special formatting and such. I generally hold to the notion that a haiku should contain two juxtaposed images.

The one-line haiku that have come to me have always arrived all in one piece, in a singular, fleeting, but palpable moment. They've been little gifts. No haggling, no teeth-gnashing for just the right word, or tweaking and playing with lines and breaks. Just two images fully formed into a little handful of words, drifting down like the surprise of a feather.

(PS/pssst - In case you're a haiku fan stocking up on short poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day, I've got ISSA Seasons mini haiku cards for sale in my Etsy shop here. If you need a different kind of discounted amount, just give me a holler.)

Now, drift on over to Today's Little Ditty, where the ever-surprising Michelle has this week's Roundup, complete with tons of poetry teaching tips from PF regulars and guests, just in time for April. (Be sure to catch the March challenge from Nikki Grimes while you're over there, too!)


  1. March 8, 2018 9:53 PM EST
    Thank you for this. I want to play with monoku. I am also curious about intentional submitting of my work.
    - Jone
  2. March 8, 2018 10:58 PM EST
    Wow, I've never heard of a monoku before! The poetry world continues to amaze me, I learn something new every day.
    - Jane @ Raincity Librarian
  3. March 8, 2018 11:11 PM EST
    Robyn, I am fascinated with the monoku and do want to ponder this form. Thanks for all of the samples.
    - Carol Varsalona
  4. March 9, 2018 12:39 AM EST
    I am new to the monoku too. I love the idea. I love your juxtapositions.
    - Books4Learning
  5. March 9, 2018 8:31 AM EST
    Hi, Jone! One thing I love about the haiku journals is you can jump into the submission piles anytime - whether you've been published before, like you have - :0) - or you are starting out. (Of course, newcomers should read lots of sample haiku from a particular publication before submitting to it.) I don't always make the deadlines, but I like the seasonal nudges to polish poems and send them out.

    Jane, you are always brimming with poetry enthusiasm! I'm sure the learning environment you create in your library sparkles with it.

    Hi, Carol - thanks for stopping by. I find them to be little gems, just a few words with facets of reflected light. Glad you enjoyed!

    Thanks, Books4Learning - glad to make the "introduction" to these diminutive haiku!
    - Robyn Black
  6. March 9, 2018 8:52 AM EST
    To find those two images hanging around in one's mind is a gift, and you've shared some wonderful ones, Robyn. Ah, love those morning glories! Thanks for the tips, too!
    - Linda Baie
  7. March 9, 2018 8:58 AM EST
    Hi, Dearest Linda - thanks for the kind words. When I first fell into haiku, I felt a connection to my childhood, running loose in the woods unattended with heightened senses, close to both bliss and sadness, alone and not alone.
    - Robyn Black
  8. March 9, 2018 9:37 AM EST
    Thank you for opening my eyes to monoku, Robyn! I've always wondered if there were rules to writing one (or two) lined haiku. Your explanation of two juxtaposed images clears things right up! I particularly like your morning glories and the gorgeous photo to go with. Happy weekend! xo
    - Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
  9. March 9, 2018 9:49 AM EST
    Iíve learned something new today! Thank you for explaining the monoku. Your morning glory piece is beautiful and inspires me to try my hand. Thank you, Robyn.
    - Kitty Kaczmarek
  10. March 9, 2018 9:53 AM EST
    Hi, Michelle - thanks so much for hosting us all today, and conjuring up such a fulsome post to boot! Glad you enjoyed this little side trip to stop and smell the morning glories/monoku. ;0)

    Kitty, so wonderful to have you visit! Thanks for your kind words, and happy creating. I hope we cross real paths again one of these days.
    - Robyn Black
  11. March 9, 2018 11:25 AM EST
    Is this like Wheel of Fortune when they combine two phrases?
    Is there a length limit?
    - Donna JT Smith
  12. March 9, 2018 11:58 AM EST
    I did not know about monoku! Yours are splendid!! Congrats on another acceptance. :)
    - jama
  13. March 9, 2018 12:09 PM EST
    I like monoku. I'd love to see a collection or anthology of them.
    - Brenda
  14. March 9, 2018 12:11 PM EST
    I love Modern Haiku-- congrats on your acceptances! I am a particular fan of your leaf blower poem. Thanks so much for sharing!
    - Sarah Grace Tuttle
  15. March 9, 2018 12:25 PM EST
    Hi, Donna - haven't watched Wheel of Fortune in a long time, but I would doubt it! ;0) There is not technically a length 'limit', but a one-line haiku could get clunky quickly. If it seems too long, it probably needs to be the conventional two phrases hinged together in three lines. Thanks for stopping in!

    Thanks, Jama - much appreciated!

    Hi, Brenda - I've had the same thought. ;0) Thanks.

    Sarah Grace, many thanks! :0) I've loved having poems in MH over the years. Glad you enjoyed the leaf blowers. We moved to our little coastal SC town four years ago and have had two hurricanes in that time!
    - Robyn Black
  16. March 9, 2018 12:48 PM EST
    I loved reading about the monoku. The ones you shared are so good. I'm going to see if I can come up with one, but like good haiku, I'm sure it is harder than it looks. xo
    - Linda Kulp Trout
  17. March 9, 2018 12:52 PM EST
    Thank you, Linda - have fun. And check out sites like The Haiku Foundation and HSA's Frogpond page and such for inspiration! :0)
    - Robyn Black
  18. March 9, 2018 6:24 PM EST
    I'm so excited to mess about with some monoku. And I'm hugely jealous that haiku plops down in your brain mostly intact. Mine often arrives with wrangling to be done. Jealous! :-) Christie @
    - Christie Wyman
  19. March 9, 2018 6:30 PM EST
    "drifting down like the surprise of a feather"--love that image! Monoku is a new form to me and quite intriguing. Thanks for sharing such wonderful examples and for sharing some resources as well.
    - Molly Hogan
  20. March 9, 2018 7:51 PM EST
    I've heard of monoku, but for some reason I don't recall ever reading any until now - so thank you for sharing these! I ca see what you mean about the impact they can have, with such power and imagery in so few words.
    - Matt Forrest Esenwine
  21. March 9, 2018 9:37 PM EST
    Hi, Christie - thanks, and, there is MUCH wrangling to be done with "regular" haiku on my end - ha! So many drafts sometimes. ;0) Happy creating!

    Glad you enjoyed, Molly - & thanks for the kind thoughts!

    Hey, Matt - thanks for coming by. Glad to share these with you!

    - Robyn Black
  22. March 9, 2018 9:47 PM EST
    Love this post, Robyn - and can so relate to your feelings about haiku and children's books. There is something breathless-special about pared back words. Also interesting reading your process with the monoku. Congrats on the acceptances - and publication!
    - Kathryn Apel
  23. March 10, 2018 6:12 AM EST
    Congratulations, Robyn! Thanks for sharing these with us. Like the others, monoku is new to me. Seems even more challenging than haiku. Looking forward to seeing more!
    - Tabatha
  24. March 10, 2018 7:01 AM EST
    I'm like Jone -- in a little bit of awe of your intentional submission schedule. Dang day job. Oh, well. Something to aspire to in a few years!
    - Mary Lee Hahn
  25. March 10, 2018 8:30 AM EST
    Hi there, Kat - Thanks. I think I'm so drawn to crisp, spare poems and books because the rest of my life is often so piled up and cluttered, even if it's all good, still a bit teetery! ;0)

    Tabatha, glad you joined the conversation; thanks! I hope to keep them coming.

    Hi, Mary Lee - I'm in awe of all you teachers juggle. And you produce publishable poetry while doing it! Not to mention herding the PF host crowd....
    - Robyn Black
  26. March 10, 2018 10:10 AM EST
    I like the term monoku better than the other I've heard, "monostich." I can't even figure out how to say monostich. Is it stick or stitch? You've written eloquently about these terse forms--thanks for spreading the word.
    - Diane Mayr
  27. March 10, 2018 5:05 PM EST
    I love one line haiku. I also find them super-hard to write! I don't think I've written a successful one yet. Yours are wonderful!
    - Liz
  28. March 10, 2018 6:51 PM EST
    Hi, Diane - I've read that term "monostitch" too - but I agree - the 'ku seems easier to say and understand! ;0) Thanks!

    Liz, thank you, my friend! Your haiku are gorgeous, whatever the length.
    - Robyn Black
  29. March 10, 2018 9:00 PM EST
    The best line of this post? "In one of the acceptances". I love seeing that you have acceptances rolling in. Never have I heard of a monoku....but how intriguing. I need to try this! It's always fun learning with you.
    - Linda Mitchell
  30. March 11, 2018 8:46 AM EDT
    I'm inspired...

    daffodil birthday snow on the way
    - Heidi Mordhorst
  31. March 11, 2018 2:22 PM EDT
    Congrats on the publications. Monoku is new to me. I enjoy short form poetry, but it so hard to do well. You make it look effortless!
    - Rebecca Herzog
  32. March 11, 2018 5:26 PM EDT
    Thanks, Linda - I've been having haiku published in the journals since about 2011. I still get rejections, so I never take it for granted! But it's always a good challenge to polish up work. I appreciate the kind words!

    Heidi, you always inspire ME! Thanks for sharing. (And I hope not TOO much snow this coming week...)

    That is too kind, Rebecca. Thank you. When I first seriously submitted back in 2010-ish, after what I thought was sufficient study and practice, I got "nice" (as in, "close...") rejections. I hunkered down for a good bit of the next year to read more and more, and hone craft, and then I started getting poems accepted. As you likely know, these short forms are addictive! :0)
    - Robyn Black
  33. March 11, 2018 6:45 PM EDT
    Congratulations on your acceptances! Monoku is not a form I'm familiar with. Yours are lovely. As Linda mentioned, I especially love the morning glories on this chilly winter day. Thank you for sharing a hint of spring!
    - Catherine Flynn
  34. March 11, 2018 11:47 PM EDT
    Thanks, Catherine - I hope you all don't get pummeled by more winter weather this week. Just rainy on this late Sunday night down here! Sending WARM wishes - :0)
    - Robyn Black
  35. March 12, 2018 10:41 PM EDT
    Monoku, I like yours and this form, thanks for sharing it with us Robyn! Lovely morning glories too, I look forward to their opening this coming season.
    - Michelle Kogan
  36. March 13, 2018 2:02 PM EDT
    Thanks, Michelle, for all. Lots of morning glories around us in Beaufort - love them! :0)
    - Robyn Black

Quick Clicks

bio, photos, interview links, etc.
Explore a poem or two or five....
Explore this genre of sparely crafted poetry which offers endless depth. Resources for students, teachers, and writers.
Author visits
In schools or other settings, Robyn shares her passion for writing and encourages creativity. Presentations for all age groups.
In addition to writing books, Robyn has sold her writing to major children's magazines.
A rhyming tale of a young boy's knightly adventure with an imagined dragon.
Nonfiction, interactive book on wolves featuring giant pop-up and tons of info!