Poetry Tuesday

Advanced Poetry Lesson: Haiku

Let’s write some poetry!

This week and last week we are learning the ancient art of Haiku!

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Have you ever heard of a Haiku? Sometimes you just have to dive into to a form in order to appreciate it.

A few things to understand about Haiku:

  1. Haiku are Japanese
  2. Haiku are short, only having 3 lines
  3. They have no rhyme
  4. Each poem captures a moment
  5. Haiku poems show the world like it is (concrete, rather than abstract)
  6. They usually contain something from nature
  7. They often leave you feeling thoughtful

Great! So… how do you write them?

Let’s talk about the structure of the poem! It’s hard to build a building without structure, isn’t it? It would just fall over. So what is the structure of a Haiku?

A. Syllables
1st line: 5 syllables
2nd line: 7 syllables
3rd line: 5 syllables

For example…

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.
— Richard Wright

B.  Two Images
Haiku are often made of two different thoughts or images. One thought or image is across two lines and the other is across one. For example:

new pond—
the first tadpole
wriggles over clean stones
—Christopher Herold

“New pond” is one thought, and “the first tadpole wriggles over clean stones” is the second thought. See how the second thought takes up two lines?

C.  A Cut
Another aspect of Haiku it that they usually contain a cut, or break, somewhere in the poem. For example:

summer grasses—
all that remains
of a warriors’ dreams
—Matsuo Basho (1644-1694)

See the cut after the first line?

Okay, ready to write a Haiku?

I suggest finding a quiet place and thinking about your surroundings. If you can go outside, great! Try to describe, using a haiku, what you see, hear, smell, feel, or taste in two different images. It can be a little tricky, but the result is surprisingly lovely.

Hungry for more? Check out this week’s…

Poetry Activity (for kids, adults, and everyone in between): All About Meter

Poem Study: The Violet, by Jane Taylor

2 thoughts on “Advanced Poetry Lesson: Haiku”

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