You Can Do Haiku

Pencil_185-7-5. If you’re versed in poetry, or even a casual admirer those numbers may resonate as the recipe for creating a haiku. It may even bring to mind a flood of your favorite Haiku – possibly an original?

While opinions vary as to the strict definition of haiku, generally it’s a form of poetry, Japanese in origin, containing 17 syllables written in three phrases:

  • The first line consists of five syllables
  • The second line seven syllables
  • The final line five syllables

The challenge is to create a vivid story within that handful of syllables. One of the charms of haiku poetry is in its brevity—with so few words, each takes on heightened significance.

We celebrated Poetry Month by launching our “Haiku from the Heart Project” and encouraging you to create your own and share it on our Facebook post in the comments.  Then check out those that others have posted and “Like” the ones that connect with you.  Discover for yourself how the act of creative expression helps you feel better, or work through pain, or to simply connect with others or your inner self.

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“Making poetry from subtle suggestion,” says Poet Laureate Robert Hass, who describes haiku as the close observation of nature.

Among the most celebrated haiku poets is Matsuo Bashō  (1644-94).

From time to time

The clouds give rest

To the moon-beholders.

                   – Bashō

Haiku poetry has morphed into a variety of themes from the original concentration on nature. How complicated can it get? There are dozens of translations of Basho’s “Frog” haiku.  Here’s the Robert Hass translation:

     The old pond –

     A frog jumps in

     Sound of water

But there’s far more at the heart of a wonderful haiku poem. Whether it’s clever or compelling, sad or sentimental, it’s succinct, concise—even short—but it’s certainly not skimpy.

Hass wrote in the introduction of the Essential Haiku: “I know that for years I didn’t see how deeply personal these poems were or, to say it another way, how much they have the flavor—Basho might have said ‘the scent’—of particular human life, because I have been told and wanted to believe that haiku were never subjective. I think it was D.H. Lawrence who said the soul can get to heaven in one leap but that, if it does, it leaves a demon in its place. Better to sink down through the levels of these poems – their attention to the year, their ideas about it, the particular human consciousness the poems reflect…”

How can you get involved?

There are a number of ways, and the good news is you don’t have be a poet or a writer or even consider yourself particularly artistic. Pick a subject and focus on that as the centerpiece of your haiku. Or get inspired by some of these examples.

Then post your creation in the comments of the special post we’ve put on our Facebook page by clicking here.

Why put yourself to the challenge? Creative Writing Now has some thoughtful answers. Writing is not only a great way to express yourself, it’s also a way to live other lives and to touch other people.

And here are a few more examples to spark your creativity:

The wren

Earns his living

Noiselessly.

           – Issa 

Over-ripe sushi,

The Master

Is full of regret.

           – Buson 

Consider me

As one who loved poetry

And persimmons.

         – Shiki

 

 

By Amy Powers

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