The Art of the Haiku

Basho (1644-1694) is considered Japan’s greatest poetry writer for composing short yet exceedingly difficult haikuNational Geographic has a beautiful photo gallery currently featuring photographs illustrating a story about a journey on foot Basho took not long before his death.  He actually walked through my prefecture, Ishikawa, on his journey.

The man himself.

The man himself.

“A mound of summer grass

Are warriors’ heroic deeds

Only dreams that pass?”

Haiku are both extremely easy to write but difficult to master.  In English most people are taught to follow the 5-7-5 rule (1 line of 5 syllables, one of 7, and another of 5).  Along with this long-short-long format you also need to include 2 things:  a kigo (seasonal word) and a kireji (a cut marker).  The soul of haiku lies in nature, so people use insects, plants, flowers and other words to show when their poem is set.  The World Kigo Database has an excellent collection of seasonal words for poem writing.  They also have an easy to understand explanation of the finer points of haiku writing:

“Write about a personal experience, not a philosophical thought or idea.
Try to pay attention to the small things in life with all their details,
the seasonal changes of your daily human life.
Every moment of your life counts!
Be Here and Now!

Photo credit kretyen.

Photo credit kretyen.

For more on the (very Zen) philosophy of haiku writing, head over here.  Or if you want to give it a try, head over to the Magnetic Poetry Virtual Refrigerator for a magnet poetry challenge!  You could even join a weekly haiku challenge (Google has shown me the “Recession Haiku Challenge,” “Weight Loss Haiku Challenge” and the “Skateboard Haiku Challenge” among 19430954095 other results ^^).  But here’s my challenge to you:  write a haiku about where you are right now and post it in the comment!  Doesn’t have to be a masterpiece, just give it a try!

Here’s mine:

“The hum of the air-con

Can’t drown out the cicadas

Summer office days”

~MS the Younger

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tammie
    Aug 12, 2009 @ 21:13:27

    a boisterous crow
    accompanies the wind
    tall trees be dancing

    you have a wonderful post here~
    This might be my first try at haiku, thanks for the request for a poem attempt.


  2. Kirsten
    Aug 12, 2009 @ 23:03:04

    Painting AC units
    Musn’t let students’ parents
    Think the uni cheap

    (no, I’m not doing the painting; but the smell is coming through the vents quite nicely)


  3. Ken Januski
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 00:22:00

    Crane at City Hall
    Is unfortunately not
    the avian kind

    (I’m sure this must be sacrelegious in some way. But in the view from my window a huge crane is always swaying to and fro in front of City Hall, almost like a weapon pointed at it. So the natural reference is to one that’s missing. I’d prefer to see a Sandhill Crane fly across my view on a daily basis).

    Now I need to go reread the posts, and maybe some of the links, and show some proper appreciation for your post!


  4. sassysezzy
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 04:41:02

    It’s nice to read a Haiku blog that actually has some information on it!
    You might like to check out:


  5. MadSilence to&w
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 06:27:44

    I couldn’t resist the haiku challenge, knowing these don’t quite follow the rules…

    At Work:

    Writing proposals
    Is time consuming madness
    Funding needed now

    Meditation on the new Lincoln cents:

    Senseless now cented
    Pennies fall from high heaven
    Numismatic fun

    ~MadSilence the older & wiser


  6. madsilence
    Aug 16, 2009 @ 13:17:27

    thanks everyone! i’m loving your poems, the humor and double-play are perfect <3 <3 <3


  7. Trackback: Beautiful Japanese Poetry, Poetry Month | Word Zeal
  8. Trackback: Candy is a comforting sight « MadSilence

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