What is a Kimo?

An examination of the history, form and use of Kimo, a short type of written poetry.

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A Kimo is a short, haiku-like poem, originating in Israel.


The haiku has spread all over the world, and in turn it has been adapted by different cultures to suit their needs and means of expression. In Israel, this modification has become the Kimo, a form which retains the three unrhyming lines but adds extra syllables.
As with the haiku, it is not uncommon to see multiple Kimo chained together, with enjambment common, bridging the stanzas together.
As people of Jewish origin moved around the world, they adopted the local languages, assimilating partially in the local population. However, they avoided the use of Latin, the common tongue across the Roman Empire. Hebrew was retained for use in religious writing in the West. In the Middle East, Jewish people felt more comfortable using the common Arabic language as it shared many commonalities with Hebrew. Many Jews would write in Hebrew while using Arabic characters, punctuating their work with slang and phrases in Hebrew. This led to the adoption of Arabic poetry forms, filtered through the Hebrew language.
Upon the creation of Israel as a Jewish state, there emerged a flurry of innovation within poetry, as people began to relearn what “being Jewish” might actually entail.


The Kimo shares much in common with the haiku: it appears in three lines, making it a tristich, with each line following a diminishing pattern:

Ten syllables
Seven syllables
Six syllables

Each of these lines are unrhymed.


The Kimo often deals with a static image, a single moment in which there is no movement. Along with its brief nature, this makes it an excellent form to reflect on or celebrate a particular instance.

Connor Sansby is a Margate-based writer, editor, poet and publisher through his super-indie Whisky & Beards publishing label.

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