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I found the article written by Mark Halperin under the title not quite a Haiku in July 13 Time magazine followed by the lines:

From a White House pool report about the President’s stop in Virginia Beach: He worked the rope line. Lots of teenagers. There was more screaming.

As I was quite unfamiliar with the phrase, I tried to find out its meaning on Google. I wasn’t able to find any definition as I used to find in Google Search, but found a couple of examples of the text headed with the caption, not quite a Haiku:

  • Not quite a haiku: They would never suspect they always have it coming And I'm famous but someone has to do it Clean this world of the rot. ‒ amcon. net

  • Not quite Friday anymore, and not quite a haiku. A little while ago, I was looking for sentences for my RTK2 deck, and while attempting to find something for the character I stumbled across something that is, I suppose, near ... ‒ andorien.wordpress.com

From these examples, and in association with Haiku, which is the shortest form of poem in the world as I understand and easy for everyone to try and work up, I assume not quite a Haiku means "It’s not a so easy work (as you work up a Haiku)" or "It’s not a so easy-going day (as you're indulging in Haiku)" but I’m not sure.

What does not quite a haiku mean? Is it popular English phrase? Since when did it come into use?

We have鼻歌 (hanauta) in Japanese literally meaning “sing a song with nose,” which means doing one’s work humming a tune (nonchalantly). Does 'not quite a haiku' imply the same thing?

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I failed to find your first source and wordpress says the other one hasn't been activated yet. Could you put the direct links to those quotes? – Gigili Jul 15 '12 at 14:26
@Gigili. Upon your request, I searched Google to restore whole text of Mark Halperin’s article, but was only able to find the text, “Not quite a Haiku : From a White House pool report about the President’s stop in Virginia Beach: He worked the rope line. Lots of teenagers. There was more screaming.” on TIME.comthepage.time.com/category/the-page. I wish I kept all text of the article before posting this question. But I understand that the quoted lines are self-complete and sufficient to interpret the writer’s intention. – Yoichi Oishi Jul 16 '12 at 0:52
Well, the text is available in the body of your question and I wanted to add the direct link. Thanks anyway. – Gigili Jul 16 '12 at 7:17
up vote 15 down vote accepted

'Not quite a Haiku' is referring to the three short sentences:

He worked the rope line.

Lots of teenagers.

There was more screaming.

It comes close to the rules for Haiku (in English of course) of 5-7-5 syllables and pithy poetic meaning. I think it is obvious that it doesn't match the syllables and also it is not particularly poetic.

I haven't heard the phrase before but it could easily be a common trope. It's not an idiom though: it means what it says, it's just that what it says may not be obvious. It has nothing to do with 'work' or 'hanuatu', just to the form of some description (simple, few points, possible poetic).

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@Mitch.Though I understand that the headline, ‘Not quite a Haiku’ in Mark Halperin’s article is linked to the following “He worked the rope line. Lots of teenagers. There was more screaming,” isn’t it awkward that the writer (or editor) picks up such an apologetic phrase for the catchphrase? It’s just like saying “Though I’m not joking” in a headline. He could have chosen a more headline-like headline that stands alone, I mean, makes sense by its self. – Yoichi Oishi Jul 15 '12 at 0:08
'Awkward' maybe. I would say fairly lame in my opinion. That's why I think it is a pattern that has been used before even though I haven't seen it. It surely is understated. – Mitch Jul 15 '12 at 1:49

I'm pretty certain it is not a standard expression, but the author meant literally what they had written.

He worked the rope line.
Lots of teenagers.
There was more screaming.

It seems similar to what English speakers usually call a Haiku. But it doesn't quite fit the requirements.

Titles are generally used to draw attention. This one seems to have worked.

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Not quite a haiku.

I'm sure I read that somewhere.

What does it mean?

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this would be wittier if it was something along the lines of "not quite an answer ..." instead! – Jarrod Roberson Jul 15 '12 at 11:22
Here’s my 'Not quite a Haiku: I kept posting. I keep asking. What does it mean? What does it mean? – Yoichi Oishi Jul 17 '12 at 7:39
Well played. Keep going. All answers in Haiku, almost but not quite. – Mitch Jul 18 '12 at 14:13

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