Some Haiku from the Anthropocene

Seeing ourselves as part of nature

Jason McBride
4 min readJun 18, 2024

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Illustration by Jason McBride

You’ve most likely learned that poems in traditional Japanese haiku are about nature or the seasons.

This is not quite right.

Traditional Japanese haiku are about how the poet observes the changes in nature throughout the year. This key shift makes all the difference. Embedded in this definition of the form is the concept of wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi is about finding beauty in impermanence and imperfection. Today’s crimson sunset will give way to the black night. Winter’s pure snow on distant mountain peaks will transform into spring’s babbling brooks.

What is true is that in the traditional form, the poet is usually the observer or a minor character, not the main subject of the poem.

In our age of climate change, habitat loss, and apocalyptic species extinctions, it’s no longer useful to consider humans as being at some remove from nature.

We are part of this planet's story. The more we understand that we are nature too, perhaps the easier it will be for us to make responsible decisions for our species and this planet and curtail our worst practices.

As a poet-cartoonist, I reject the idea that haiku should only encompass nature. When I write nature poems, I’m always conscious that…

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Jason McBride

Freelance Writer & Illustrator | Poet & Visual Essayist | Amateur Human | he/him https://weirdopoetry.com