So, you want to write a haiku poem? Some think it's very easy to do. After all, it's only 3 short lines. But if you want to write a haiku, you need to know the basics. Let's get started!
First of all, forget about the 5-7-5 syllable rule. Modern haiku poets here in the west rarely use it. The Japanese used it because their language somehow fit it quite nicely. Fortunately for us, we don't have to think about how to fit what we want to say into a certain number of syllables.
What's important when writing a haiku is to understand the haiku spirit and basically, this really has to do with looking at things in nature with reverence. To understand that the beating wings of a humming bird is a small miracle itself is to begin to understand haiku for it seeks to capture the "small" things and make them big.
Now we can look at a certain technique I like to call macro-micro technique. Basically, this is when the first part of the haiku poem, the fragment, takes a macro view of the world. For instance, if we begin a haiku with something like this: "winter twilight," we've established the background or mood of the haiku... the macro view.
Now what we want is a present tense phrase that contributes some detail of something that is happening now. It doesn't have to be sophisticated and there's no need to search for something. The best haiku use simple direct language to describe things. For example, if we were to create a phrase like: "ice crystals hang off the pine," what we have just done is composed a micro view of something that is specific and can be described visually. Now the finished haiku would look something like this:
winter twilight --
hang off the pine
You'll notice that I broke this poem into 3 lines. The first line is the fragment or macro view. Lines 2 and 3 consist of the phrase. How you break the phrase up into lines 2 and 3 is purely an aesthetic choice best left to the poet.
But if you look at haiku composition as macro and micro, it will help you to write a haiku the easy way!
Edward Weiss is a poet, author, and publisher of Wisteria Press. He has been helping students learn how to write haiku for many years and has just released his first book "Seashore Haiku!" Sign up for free daily haiku and get beautiful haiku poems in your inbox each morning!
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