Exercise: Fall haiku

First . . .

Read the haiku by Bash­ō (here are some). Notice that

  • most have a seasonal reference — something that tells you what season it is;all are three lines, but most do not obey the Japanese formal stricture (5-7-5 syllable count) — haiku tend to work better in English if they’re shorter;
  • they rely on image rather than on statement — they’re vivid to the senses;
  • they often juxtapose two experiences or impressions — sort of the way Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” does—though there need not be any metaphor;
  • they are completely simple.

. . . and next . . .

Write five fall haiku for next class. Your seasonal reference, a traditional part of the Japanese haiku, should be to fall. Be on guard for clichés!

Draw each haiku from the world you see (and hear, taste, touch, and smell) around you. Rely on image rather than statement. In other words, let the image speak for itself.

Don’t pile on effects. Be completely simple. In the spirit of which — no more than one adjective or one adverb in each.

. . .  and soon to come.

Some of their fall haiku, after a round of rounding them down.

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

2 thoughts on “Exercise: Fall haiku”

  1. My wife teaches fourth grade, and last year she was teaching her students to write haikus using the 5-7-5 structure. I almost got into a discussion about haiku structure and how adhering to the syllabic template is less important than writing something beautiful . . . but I think the point for her class was more about learning how syllables work. I believe kids can write beautiful things sometimes, but I think at that age, syllable count is something tangible they can latch on to.

    Then again, structure was also one of the most frustrating parts about writing for school growing up. It resulted in a lot of poems with cheesy rhymes and cliches because they “worked.”


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