Haibun (俳文) is a Japanese genre of writing that mixes chiefly autobiographical prose with haiku. The most famous example is Bashō’s Oku no hosomichi, or Narrow Road to the Interior. The key to the art of haibun is the graceful pairing of poem and prose, where the poem links to the prose yet shifts away from it, in much the same way that verses relate to each other in a renku by linking and leaping. See a fuller definition of haibun at Notes on Japanese Forms, and read more about haiku (which is much misunderstood) on the Further Reading, Essays, and Haiku and Senryu pages. The prose part of haibun may be considered to be a sort of prose poem. Most of the following haibun have been previously published.
The Frame of Haiku: Awareness of Daily Life [a haibun of sorts]
Haiku and the Japanese Garden [a haibun of sorts]
Hand in Hand [September 11 haibun with tanka]
Holes in the Awning [earthquake haibun]
A Modest Proposal [a haibun of sorts]
On the Art of Writing Haiku [a haibun of sorts]
Ritual [with German translation]
Jay Gelzer’s Haiku Soul [first publication here]
Helen Russell’s Determination [first publication here]
Remembering Carlos Colón [first publication here]
Remembering Bill Higginson [first publication here]
Waves of Influence: Paul O. Williams [first publication here]
The “Ordinary” Haiku Poet [not a haibun, but related]
See also Memorial Haiku.
Historical note: In 1999 my press, Press Here, published Wedge of Light, which I edited with Cor van den Heuvel and Tom Lynch. If the publication had not been delayed (until May of 1999), it would have been the first anthology of haibun published in the English language (so it settled for being the second). However, it featured selections from what I believe was the first-ever English-language haibun contest, sponsored in 1996 by my magazine, Woodnotes. The book contained my overview of haibun definitions and perspectives, Cor van den Heuvel’s concise history of haibun, an inspirational essay on haibun by Rich Youmans, and a set of wide-ranging haibun by thirteen contributors, complete with statements from each contributor about haibun. Now there are numerous English-language haibun contests around the world, but I believe the Woodnotes haibun contest that I facilitated was the first.