Editing the haiku of Richard Wright


Today I decided to give an example of editing a haiku. I love the work of Richard Wright and just discovered his book called “Haiku, This Other World.”(1) Sadly I was a bit disappointed in reading the book. Mr. Wright holds to a strict 5-7-5 rule and forgoes much of what is considered to make a haiku a haiku. In fact this month in the haiku journal “Modern Haiku” there is a review of the aforementioned book and it says that “the majority of these scholars care about and evaluate , Wright’s haiku not as haiku but rather more generically as literature.” (2) and I would tend to agree with their position. I digress this is not a critique of Wright’s work but an attempt to sharpen my editing skills. I have chosen one haiku that spoke to me, begging for an editing, and leave it up to you dear reader to decide.

Wright’s Original with approximate formatting.


In the post office,
A clerk sorting out letters
Hears spring rain falling.

My edit

in post office
clerk sorts letters…
spring rain

and now comes your part please vote which you feel is the better haiku. Please be honest I am trying to improve my editing.


Wright, Richard: Haiku This Other World, First Anchor Books, 2000
Grayson, David. “Review of The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku,” Modern Haiku 42.3 (Autumn 2011) 129-132

15 responses »

  1. I voted for the second because it captures the moment. The first is too broad and generic. That’s my 2 cents 🙂 I really like the second–good job there!!!

  2. I like the shorter version, though I would edit thus…

    In a post office
    clerk sorts letters,
    as spring rains softly fall

    Come to think of it… yours is better, more spare… 🙂 The first version, #620, (and who names haiku with a number?…) reminds me more of a brick than haiku….

  3. I voted for the second on, because the first one does not work so good and I don’t like the use of falling and sorting.
    However personally I like to write the 5-7-5 haiku , the classic one instead of the shorter versions..


    • Truthfully it is not about Mr. Wright it is about taking a piece of work and seeing what I could do with it. I love Mr. Wright’s work and have for years. His daughter put together this work and published it. As Mr. Wright stuck to a 5-7-5 format I felt that perhaps some of his haiku were constrained. I am not criticizing his work but using it as a medium for my own interpretation. Thank you for the comment and taking time to read my humble blog.

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