Haiku is commonly described as a nature poem in three lines with 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second line, and 5 in the third line. This definition is at best old-fashioned and at worst erroneous.
The reality of haiku today is much more complicated. It is a powerful discipline that is ripe with the potential to engage with the world in new ways.
In my explorations of English language haiku, I have found the following approaches to be useful for substantive writing and the proper mindset:
- use no titles (haiku are identified by their first line)
- write in present tense
- show, don’t tell
- the 5-7-5 syllable structure has largely fallen out of fashion in favor of haiku with fewer than 17 syllables
- use simple, everyday language
- three lines is most common, but one, two, and four lines are also acceptable
- avoid end rhymes
- haiku experiences will arise from your surroundings, stay alert!
- write directly, so that your readers can easily imagine themselves having the experience you’ve captured
- let things be as they are, elaboration is unnecessary
- don’t proselytize
- present an experience for the reader to interpret
- use a phrase and a fragment that juxtapose each other
- see the universal connections in common, everyday experiences
- name or imply a season
- honor small, simple things
- as much as possible, keep your ego out of it
For further exploration, visit The Haiku Foundation at: https://www.thehaikufoundation.org/
The following online journals display a wide range of the expressions contemporary haiku is capable of:
For a lively audio exploration of haiku, listen to the Poetry Pea Podcast: https://poetrypea.com/category/podcast/