KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Nonfiction: 445 words [R]

The Lost Weekend: An editor’s brief perspective
on haibun submissions as viewed through
the prism of film noir titles

by Roberta Beary

Failing to submit your best work may make your submission dead on arrival. If you feel your haibun lacks a certain something, and you hope an editor will supply whatever is missing, you are mistaken. Even editors who are willing to provide comments will not do this as the norm but as the exception. Keep polishing your haibun until it glows in the dark. Then submit it as your best work.

Sorry, Wrong Number

In haibun, the wrong title is like a wrong number. It makes the reader want to hang up the phone. A haibun’s title should be strong enough to draw the reader into the prose and make the reader want more. Let the title be a link to the prose and the haiku, not give away the rest of the piece. After reading the entire haibun, the reader should be able to look at the title and see more than one meaning.

Nightmare Alley

The present tense and short sentences work best for the prose of the haibun. Simple writing is also the most effective. Avoid rambling sentences and hyperbole. You don’t want to make the reader feel as if he or she has stumbled into nightmare alley. Do not confuse the prose of haibun with poetry. They are not the same.


A good haibun should leave the reader spellbound. If you cannot quite get to spellbound, try for mystery. Do not set everything out in black and white. Leave a bit of gray so there is room for the reader to maneuver among the written words. The title should set the stage; the prose should show but not tell. The haiku should reflect or expand the prose, not repeat it. When your haibun read in its entirely is subject to more than one interpretation, you are on the right track.


Your reputation as a haibun writer is something to be valued. Failing to keep track of your haibun submissions makes you look bad when two editors accept the same work. “Not previously published” means just that. It does not mean, “I don't remember submitting it anywhere else.” Similarly, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” does not apply to haibun submissions. The work you submit, whether it places the reader squarely on Mystery Street or puts the reader into The Big Sleep, must be your own.

Farewell, My Lovely

Finally, before you press send or drop the envelope in the slot, read the rules for submission. Doing so will ensure the editor will give your work a thoughtful reading.

—Previously published in frogpond (34:3, 2011); appears here with author’s permission

Roberta Beary
Issue 8, August 2017

is the haibun editor for Modern Haiku. She identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. Her micro-fiction and haibun have appeared in Rattle, KYSO Flash, and 100 Word Story. Her work is also featured in A Companion to Poetic Genre (John Wiley & Sons, 2011) and Haiku In English: The First Hundred Years (W.W. Norton, 2013).

Her book The Unworn Necklace, named a William Carlos Williams finalist by the Poetry Society of America, is in its fourth printing. Her book Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), a collection of prose poems on loss and grief, was named an Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist and received a Touchstone Award Honorable Mention. Poet and playwright Grace Cavalieri says, “In Deflection she extends her reach with some of the most searingly truthful work I’ve seen this year.”

Beary is currently based in County Mayo, Ireland, and tweets her photoku on Twitter [at] shortpoemz.

Author’s website:

If her website is on hiatus, please see her Facebook page instead:

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