The American Scholar today announced that its Next Line, Please contest will continue with David Lehman as judge. Contestants are invited to submit a haiku. Here's what David has to say about the form and the rules for the contest:
Sometimes a strict adherence to the rules is the only method that makes sense. That’s the case, I submit, with the haiku—the subject of this week’s “Next Line, Please” contest.
A rarity among poetic forms, the haiku is indifferent to patterns of meter and rhyme and dependent entirely on syllabic count. The rules of the three-line form are few. The first and third lines must consist of exactly five syllables each. The middle line—the sandwich line, if you like—has seven syllables. Consider Ron Padgett’s exemplary “Haiku”:
First: five syllables.
Second: seven syllables.
Third: five syllables.
The traditional haiku may make an evocative reference to a season. With this in mind, and on the conviction that constraints are paradoxically liberating, I would add two more rules as suitable to this august Asian form: your haiku must include the word “August” and you are not allowed to use the words “I,” “me,” “my,” or “mine.”