Workshop > Haiku
Oct 06

Haiku

Haiku is a short form of poetry adapted from Japanese tradition. Each poem consists of three lines; the first line has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the third line has five syllables. (Remember: a syllable generally corresponds to a single vowel sound within a word. That is to say, each time you hear a vowel sound in a word, that counts as a syllable.)

You can use a simple outline to keep you on track:

5
7
5

Traditionally, haiku are based on observations of the natural world--explaining a small moment. Contemporarily, haiku can be used for all sorts of subject matter, but usually focus on a particular detail, due to their brevity. They are usually written in the present tense, about the present moment.

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

- Richard Wright


To get into the groove of writing a haiku, find an interesting place that you can sit and observe, uninterrupted. Focus in on a small, tiny, detail--a color, a texture, a movement. Explore a few different ways to explain or describe that detail, in a mere 17 syllables. (You may want to stick to the literal, or maybe you can better paint a picture in your reader's mind with a figurative turn of phrase. Try it from different angles.)

Post at least one haiku as a response to this XP.

Feedback: Take a look at someone else's haikus and see if you can envision the specific details of their subject. Let them know what you pictured in your mind--what senses were piqued, and how.