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Write Haiku

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Writing Haiku is one of the easiest and one of the hardest things you can do. In other words, haiku is easy to write but hard to master. There are three Japanese ancient masters, Basho, Buson and Issa. Though they lived a long time ago (or probably because they did) their poems have great insight.

Things You Will Need

Paper
Writing instrument
Inspiration

Step 1

Observe. Commune with nature and become one. Blend in. This could be a nature walk through a park. A hunting expedition or just a sit in your garden. Find something that amazes you or fills you with wonder. The best haiku evoke emotional responses and senses or imply something. Write down the general idea. Normally the idea must involve one of a few key elements: Nature, juxtaposition, transition, humor, emotion, insight. Traditionally Haiku always have included a season word and a cutting word.

Step 2

Structure. Place the words you write into a structured Haiku form. In Japanese, Haiku are formed into On-ji which are word sounds. The On-ji are arranged 5-7-5. This does not translate well to English so most English Haiku "experts" recommend 3-5-3 syllables.


Step 3

Revision. Some Haiku may be revised hundreds of times before the sound is right.

Step 4

Ensuring season word and cutting words.

Take Basho's Frog Haiku...

At the ancient pond

a frog jumps into

the sound of water

The cutting word is clearly "into". However the season here is implied rather than said. Frogs do not jump in water in winter so this is probably a spring/summer poem. Others are a little more clear. Take Issa's Hell Poem...

In this world

we walk on the roof of hell

gazing at blossoms.

Clearly blossoms implies spring. The cutting word is not really present though. These two favorites of mine go to show that Haiku rules are made to be broken.


Step 5

Finalize. Put the finishing touches. Its usually at this point I do another count on syllables. As long as I am close and the poem sounds good when read in "one breath" I do not bother trying to cut words apart.

Haiku is an ancient form of poetry that is ever evolving especially as the English world still struggles to interpret it and shape it into our own. Haiku can best be summed up as short, evocative poetry designed to provide peace, commune with nature and achieve a zen-like presence. Rules be damned.

Tips & Warnings

Keep a dedicated journal and have it with you at all times. You never know when inspiration will strike. If you don't have the journal with you at a key time a camera also works wonders to capture images that you can later ponder.
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