creaking ice melting
dripping off purple table
the water cycle
We all remember haiku from school, right? Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. There are numerous forms of haiku. In fact, if you Google how to write haiku you will discover different types with all kinds of rules and suggestions. Generally, an English haiku contains 17 syllables in three lines. The first line has 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the final line goes back to 5 syllables. Nature and seasonal themes are the most common subjects in traditional haiku. Some say you must have a “season” word and a “cutting” word to create a haiku. A “season” word is obvious – words that evoke the seasons (mosquito for summer, daffodil for spring, snow for winter, etc.). The “cutting” word is more complex and difficult to define in English. Simply explained, it is a break or pause indicated by punctuation or a word (English writers often use ellipses).
bare branches lifted
in silent ode to the sky
brown breasted birds sing
in silent ode to the sky
brown breasted birds sing
In my writing, I just stick to the 5-7-5 rule and let it roll from there. Many of my poems are inspired by nature but some relate to random observations, mundane domestic trials and events, or things my children do. Speaking of children, haiku is a great introduction to poetry and a fun way to learn about syllables with children. My oldest daughter has written several haiku. She likes to create an illustration to go with them like a story.
cold and hazy air
afternoon in the cold fog
patches of green grass
Similarly, I often include a photograph that inspires my haiku. I think the key is to approach it with inspiration. Personally, I cannot decide to write a poem about the wind, or a bird, or a mushroom and just do it. I have to see something, feel something, experience something, hear something and then I become inspired to write. Conversely, when my daughter writes she usually thinks of a subject (horse, owl, or butterfly) and starts from there. It is both challenging and fun to create imagery in three short poetic lines. Limited to so few words, each word becomes important.
I encourage you to give haiku a try. Brevity of form means it won't take too long. Come on – its fun! You might feel the mindful connection to nature when you write. You might have a laugh and bond with your child. You might be awed by the little things in our world. You might be peacefully satisfied by completing a little poem. You might learn something about the way you view the world by focusing on a feeling or a vision.
Come to my blog, My Year in Haiku, to see more samples. Just click on the title of this post.
All photos and text from this post belong to Grace of My Year in Haiku. Copyright 2011.
Grace's blog is one of my favourite reads. I must have been away the day they taught Haiku at school, as I only had limited knowledge of how to write one. Its fascinating to read here, how and what inspires her writing. Maybe I'll try writing one!
I have so enjoyed Grace's haiku journey. What a wonderful daily project.
I'm going to try writing one, too! I think that observing and appreciating the beauty of winter through writing haiku will help me get through this snowy time! love, Beth
I'm here from Grace's blog, which I enjoy daily. I remember writing haiku in grade school, but haven't done so since. I think that the thing I appreciate most about the form is the brevity. As Grace mentions, because there are so few of them, each word takes on great weight. I also love how they can be little poetic portraits of a single moment. Such a beautiful way to capture a memory.
Oh, this is great, thanks Grace, I will have a go, cheers Marie
I so enjoyed reading your Haiku yesterday when I visited your blog. I don't remember learning it in school, but I love the 5-7-5 rule and I think I will give it a try too! Nice inspiring post on this blustery, snowy New England day.
Thank you Beth for bringing more attention to Grace and her beautiful poetry! I love her blog, and she just seems like a really geniune and kind person.
Years ago (almost 6 now) my husband and I had an impromptu Haiku celebration on May 7th, 2005. (5-07-05) It involved a lot of beer, and the Haikus got very dirty... Oh, I do love the magic of poetry!
Thank you all for reading my post here. It was fun to write something a little longer for a change!
(And Amanda - beer and dirty haikus with your hubbie sounds pretty awesome!)
My dear Beth,
This is wonderful. Good for you for sharing her with us. I loved it.
Sending love from a sunny garden (which I need to water)
Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island
I love the Haiku lesson, thanks Grace!
Thanks for sharing your process with us. I'm happy you're continuing another "year of haiku"...I enjoy both the poetry and the photos! - Mo
I just came over from Grace's blog I really enjoy the Haikus and I'm glad she is continuing it.
I love Haiku and Grace's blog. I too have to see a picture or have one in my mind before composing any form of poetry.
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