Last October, I was invited to my first Montana Women Writers meeting in Kalispell by Betty Kuffel. The speaker would be talking about Flash Fiction, so Betty’s email suggested we “…bring a piece of flash fiction you’d like to share or Haiku, or a few pages of manuscript for peer input.”
Haiku? The idea of writing a very short structured poem grabbed my attention. Since I had never written one before, it didn’t need to be perfect, or even good; it just needed to be a haiku:
My First Haiku (10/31/19):
(5) Fawn strolls through snowy yard
(7) as kids dress up as animals.
(5) Whitefish Halloween!
In haiku, less is literally more. The 5-7-5 indicates the number of syllables allowed for each line. Every word must be carefully chosen to fit the 17-syllable 3-line form.
I quickly realized writing haikus is excellent training for all types of writing. As a book editor and screenwriting coach, I saw how haiku practice would improve my clients’ writing skills as well as mine – and it was fun!
When I researched “how to write haiku,” I discovered other syllable-dependent poetic structures like sestina, villanelle, dodoitsu and paradelle. Some of these use repeating words or rhythms. But haiku is the shortest and simplest form to learn.
Here’s a haiku I recently wrote to remind me how to write one:
Five syllables plus
seven and five more create
a haiku for you!
Haiku began as a Japanese poetic form honoring nature and the world around us. Some people write haikus as a diary of their daily experiences, like author Jack Keroac. Others create fanciful, humorous or literary haikus. Check out “Suburban Haiku” by Peyton Price (www.suburbanhaiku.com) or “Haiku U “(100 great books in 17 syllables) by David M. Bader.
To begin writing your own haiku, use the basic 5-7-5 syllable structure. I find a starting point within the three lines, then work forward or backward from there. Once my theme and rhythm are clear, refining the words and sometimes shuffling the top and bottom lines follows.
For practice, you can find Haiku sites and Facebook groups online:
At the Global Haiku Project (www.haiku.baronfig.com), you can add to or finish a three-author haiku.
For help going haiku, try Haiku Generator (www.poem-generator.org.uk/haiku/).
Facebook’s Haiku for a Global Pandemic group inspired my first Covid-19 haiku:
Despite Covid, how
can we all move through this day?
One breath at a time…
If you’re inspired to write your first haiku (or your hundredth), I’d love to read it. Email me at LiteraSee@gmail.com.
By Barbara Schiffman