My short poems may not seem like haiku, because they do not follow the traditional form that many readers might expect. My haiku are written in a free-verse style, that I call Freestyle Haiku. I discovered the possibility of this more freeing style of haiku from the writings of the Zen priest, Santōka Teneda (1882-1940). He wandered and traveled during the later years of his life while writing haiku.

I enjoy writing Freestyle Haiku, because I can express abstract and powerful feelings in only a few words, free from a mandated structure. My words are the most direct crystallization of my feelings and experiences, and the brevity of haiku draws attention to the exact words I choose.

A meaning-rich haiku can be challenging to read; treating one like prose will leave it flat. The goal of a haiku is often to conjure up something beyond the words and their individual meanings. The reader must add themselves to the poem, to experience the words in the way they’re presented, to try and feel the poem. A good haiku will leave the reader with an experience.

-Monk Mattō