I agree Alan - it is sad that anyone is pressurized into exclusively writing 5/7/5. Just as this "count" is used as an elementary teaching tool in Japan, to develop the art of brevity, certainly it can have a similar application in other languages. To make this an exclusive rule however, does an enormous disservice to the art, and its original design.
We have an initial historical misunderstanding of the art in its entirety, beyond the borders of Japan, to blame for this. The good news is, that with current technology, things are rapidly changing and the knowledge base is rapidly increasing and becoming more mainstream.
Just as there is ancient Roman and Greek literature that few are educated in, or able to keep alive today; so it is with Japanese poetry. A surprising look into the ancient may be found here, thanks to the efforts of Thomas McAuley from Sheffield University: http://www.temcauley.staff.shef.ac.uk/introduction.shtml
Thanks to Basho, Buson, and Issa (and a host of others) haiku has evolved into both a scholar's, and a people's art. The best guidance i have found for my own personal artistic path (as a people and not a scholar), has been from haijin and Shincho Professor of Japanese Literature (Columbia University), Haruo Shirane. He has much to say about writing haiku in English: http://www.haikupoet.com/definitions/beyond_the_haiku_moment.html
Because of such mentors (and those like yourself Alan), as haiku evolves beyond the borders of Japan, and takes on much artistic expression - I try not to judge from what i think i know .. but rather from what i hope to learn.
Several years ago, i corresponded with a young woman who was born, educated and living in Japan. She explained to me that haiku was taught as part of standard curriculum early on - along with the learning of three alphabets; in addition to English as a second language. She shared with me haiga using photography. Some may find the haiku surprising - and that it does not fit "rules" we have been given. And yet her work stands as testimony to the evolution of the art within its own borders today. The sharing was one of those defining moments for me. I would like to share it with the workshop. She wrote it following a trip to the park with her boyfriend - he had found the tiny acorns and scooped them up, and ran to her to show them. Once home she journalled the memory (permission to share granted long ago):
Thank you so much for sharing the Seamus Heaney & Phillip Gross references ... i was not familiar with these and am reading up on them now. VERY interesting so far .. and this will now no doubt cause me to part with even more hard earned money towards yet more books :-) Reading this now: http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=10190
Ah, yes, done that to at times. ;-)
It is sad that some famous mainstream poets are also pressurised into writing not so good but 575 English-language construct haiku attempts, rather than allowing them to write what could be a good haiku.
I'm sure we've all seen famous poets attempt haiku, and rarely succeed.
Exceptions that spring to mind are Seamus Heaney and Phillip Gross. Any others you feel have caught the spirit and the "non-form" of haiku? ;-)
Yes there are always those who are more "knowledgeable" on the surface, and can hold us back alas.
Thank you Alan ... i meant to say, that i agreed with your comments and that John's question was excellent. Posted rather early in the morning & left out a few words .. a downside to the art of brevity