Jennifer St. Clair Bush, Associate Editor, Poetry
Issue # 2: 03/01/01
and Using Language in Fiction
By Jennifer St. Clair Bush
©2001, Jennifer St. Clair Bush
Haiku is a form of verse that was first developed in Japan
about 400 years ago. At one
time, Japanese Haiku festivals were held where one poet would reply to
another, eventually ending up with 10,000 line poems. When I was in High
School, my friend and I did something like this, but ours
lasted only six or seven pages, not 10,000 lines.
It was definitely interesting to find out about the historical
Haiku flourished throughout the centuries and became very
popular around the world. If
you go to the library, you're likely to find plenty of books filled with
Haiku poetry, but have you ever tried to write one of your own?
Haiku poems are traditionally three lines with a total of
seventeen syllables. The
first line has five syllables, the second line has seven, and the third
line has five. Sound easy?
One of the traditional rules of Haiku is that one of the lines
must have a word that is identified with a particular season. This is called a kigo. In
modern times this isn't always followed, but the Haiku we write for this
exercise will follow that rule.
In Haiku, try to avoid adverbs. You want each line to form a picture in your mind--a picture
of whatever you are trying to tell the reader.
The first line should set up the poem (just like the first page
of a novel), the second should carry you forward and bring you to the
Here's an example I wrote:
What do you see in this poem? Do you see the muddy dawn of an early spring morning, perhaps
wetting down the world just in time for rush hour and the mad dash to
get to the office? Do you
feel yourself lying in bed, listening to the rain patter on the bedroom
window? Have you ever been
in this situation? This
poem only has eleven words, and yet it conveys the point
just as well as a longer lyrical poem describing the early
The easiest haiku to learn to write is usually
nature-based. Imagine a budding flower or a squirrel in a tree, and use the
5,7,5 rule to describe what you see.
Post it here (http://network54.com/Hide/Forum/message?forumid=69977&messageid=981914473)
and share your haiku with the community members.
Through the years Haiku rules have been stretched and skewed,
but the 5,7,5 syllables have pretty much remained the same, though some
people believe a 3,5,3 version is closer to the brevity and feel of the
original Japanese form. While
searching for information for this article, I came across a random Haiku
that will give you some interesting random Haiku and will show you how
many variations you can achieve while writing them.
(Some of them are pretty bizarre!)
There are many more sites online about how to write haiku. Any search engine should come up with many choices. If you wish to learn more about the history of Haiku, I would suggest this site: (http://www.nhi.clara.net/gepm002.htm), which has a fairly detailed article on the history of haiku.
versions of Vision