Apr 11

Poetry - Haiku, etc.


The haiku is a Japanese form of poetry that developed out of group poetry.  Nearly nine hundred years ago groups of young poets gathered to write together what is called a renga, a type of collaborative poem.  By the 1400s the short sections of the poem broke from the long poem and developed into haiku.

Daistez T. Suzuki, a Japenese author said this: “Haikus get inside an object, experience the object’s life, and feel its feelings.”

Generally, a haiku will have these qualities (although, nothing is hard and fast):
  • It contains seventeen syllables in lines of five, seven, and five syllables.
  • It usually has a theme of nature
  • It sometimes includes a word or two that alludes to the seasons
  • It is written in the present tense about the present moment

I am over you.
Then my eyes meet yours once more,
and I fall in love..

-- Alisha Mead

The Japanese tanka poem is, in a way, an extension of a haiku, best known for its five-line 5/7/5/7/7 syllable/line count form and is considered a waka or Japanese song or verse. 

hazy autumn moon
the sound of chestnuts dropping
from an empty sky
I gather your belongings
into boxes for the poor


--Margaret Chula
Portland, Oregon

Another form of the tank is the Renga which are a series of connected tanka poems alternately written by different authors in pairs or small groups. So one poet writes a "stanza" or five-line 5/7/5/7/7 poem and the next poet continues the idea/theme or image and writes the next stanza, and so on. Sometimes these poems can be very long.