Poetry Writing: The Art of the Haiku
Welcome, lovely Our Write Siders, to our series on poetry. Poetry is a wonderful style of writing that’s concentrated and evocative. It conveys a lot in few words and often says things in a way prose cannot. There are many forms of poetry and we are here to break them down into bite size chunks so you can try some yourself. After each explanation, we have a fun prompt for you to try. Check out today’s form now.
Haiku is a well known form of poetry. It consists of three lines with 5 syllables in the first, 7 in the second line, and 5 again in the last line. This short form can be very powerful, conveying a lot in a few words. So it’s a great form to practice.
A traditional haiku follows the 5, 7, 5 format and also includes the meeting of two different but related images or ideas and a seasonal reference. Modern haikus only focus on the syllable lines.
A contemporary example of a haiku is by Rolf Nelson.
(5) Haikus are easy
(7) But sometimes they don’t make sense
Imagery is important in traditional haikus as well as the juxtaposition of two images. The essence of the haiku is called kiru, which means cutting. Kireji is a cutting word that separates the two ideas.
Here’s an example.
(5) In the twilight rain
(7) these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
(5) A lovely sunset.
The first are images describing the scene of the poem. The last line is a surprising image of a comparison, a sunset that adds depth to the poem.
Now let’s talk about the seasonal aspect. This can be anything that ties the poem to a season from falling leaves to snow. Start with a season you want to write about. What imagery goes with that season? Is it scarves and hot cocoa? Or building a snowman with your kids? Start with that image and craft a haiku.
Now give haikus a try for yourself. Here’s a prompt to get started:
Write about autumn, but use unexpected imagery. Do not talk about falling leaves or leaves changing color. Can you still convey the season?
Now that you’ve written your poem, it’s time to show it off. Share in the comments and we’ll pick one or two poems to publish to Our Write Side and to share in Our Write Side’s Facebook groups. Get some recognition and get your poem seen! Share below.
Looking for support as a poet? Why not join the OWS Mafia Muses, the poetry group for Our Writesiders!
J.K. Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fiction novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.