Haiku Ignorance Mine

First, I will be clear that, though there is a Creative Writing category, the only creative writing I have ever officially taught was for middle schoolers and elementary students (two different classes).

Second, I will say that like many English majors, what drew me to the field was my love of reading and writing.

Third, I will say that I enjoy writing poetry. I learned a lot I did not know about haiku yesterday while perusing the National Haiku Writing Month website.

Fourth, as a true confession, I had to go back and redo the 60+ haiku I have written this year using the 2012 prompts because I did them all wrong.

The NaHaiWriMo website had some further reading. When I read it, I was shocked to discover that the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern I was taught in elementary school (and have practiced since) is totally wrong.

Here are my notes:
Forms in English Haiku
5-7-5 is too many syllables to really make an equivalent English version.
The Japanese write their haiku in a single line traditionally. (But I have a 16th century haiku written in three lines.)
Haiku is both singular and plural.
Season indicators are necessary for haiku.

What Is a Haiku and What Isn’t
I did know that haiku deals with nature, despite the prompts which are not natural (as opposed to unnatural).
senryu deal with people—
haiku = freshness and spontaneity
This one says is written in three lines.

Haiku By the Numbers
2-3-2 based on stressed syllables
usually there is a break, often after the first set/syllables, sometimes after the first two
5 stressed syllables = pentameter
There should be a caesura in the 5 stressed syllable line (slight/short break).

Becoming a Haiku Poet
avoid interpretation
convey experience
juxtapose two parts
“With a caesura, you create energy through the juxtaposition between the two elements, which may be a background or context, juxtaposed with a foreground or focus. And with a season word, you connect the poem to nature and time and other poetry. Above all, a haiku mysteriously creates an emotional impression, a whole that is often much greater than the sum of its parts.”
“haiku never have titles, almost never rhyme, and seldom use overt metaphor and simile.”
“focus on perceptions and images. Be aware of the seasons and what you perceive through your five senses”

One of my experiments:
monster
destroys houses
sheet of ice

Image by Jill Coubrough
Image by Jill Coubrough

One thought on “Haiku Ignorance Mine”

  1. Thanks for visiting the NaHaiWriMo website, and the Further Reading section of my Graceguts.com site. Lots of information about haiku there. Yes, 5-7-5 is a sort of urban myth for haiku in English, since what they count in Japanese haiku is not quite the same as our syllables (the word “haiku” itself is two syllables in English but counts as three sounds in Japanese). I hope you and your readers might explore more of my site, and other sites featuring literary haiku, to learn more about this genre. And perhaps consider joining the Haiku Society of America or other similar organizations too!

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