First Snow Haiku

By Ann Minnett

Barbara Schiffman recently hosted a webinar about Haiku poetry. The term has expanded to include a variety of interpretations, but she and the attendees favored the more traditional 5-7-5 syllable version of Haiku. I made a brief attempt to keep a Haiku diary and vow today to resume the practice.

Our first substantial snowfall inspired me to write this.

First Snowfall

Pristine silence thuds

Pinpricks speckle lifted smiles

No work only peace.

Winter has arrived in NW Montana. Have a lovely week no matter where you call home.

~ Ann Minnett

10-18-2020

HAIKU

By Diane E. Boker

Lucky for me that (5)

I think in pentameter. (7)

It can be a game. (5)

In September of 2020, several members of Montana Women Writers met via Zoom for a word-lover play date (a.k.a. the monthly meeting).  The activities were led by member, Barbara Schiffman, a recent haiku enthusiast.  

You probably already know that a haiku is a poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five.  Traditional Japanese haiku focuses on the seasons and observations of nature and is in present tense. According to Barbara, “modern haiku has no limits to subject and doesn’t need to be somber. You can be humorous, satiric, ironic or even silly.” For silly, see my example above. She pointed out that working on haiku is great training to tighten prose, to be concise, to find the exact word to evoke the feeling a prose writer is trying to express.

We created some haiku on the fly with prompts from Barbara and really surprised ourselves.  We even wrote some collaboratively, with one member throwing out the first line and others adding line two and three.  It was exhilarating.

You can try it too.  Here are some suggestions to write about:

  • Something you ate today
  • The pandemic
  • The weather
  • Your pets
  • A summary of your book

Speaking of the pandemic, there is a Face Book page dedicated to haikus about the pandemic.  Check it out: 

Haiku for a Global Pandemic group – https://www.facebook.com/

groups/616741405570934

I am going to contribute the one below, based on a random comment heard from the mom of a fifteen-year-old:

Dawning on the boy, (5)

All snow days are lost to Zoom. (7)

 Unforeseen results. (5)

And here are two more that I came up with after the MWW play date:

Karma is a bitch, (5)

They say. And here we are caught (7)

Choking, cloaked in smoke. (5)

Try to be normal, (5)

All the while knowing that you (7)

Are simply the light. (5)

Now, go have some fun yourself.

HAIKU TO YOU TOO!

thought-catalog-TeWWEoIpbmQ-unsplash

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…

(8/4/20)

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

Barbara will be presenting Haiku to You, Too! at our Zoom Montana Women Writers meeting September 24th for details how to join in the discussion contact her at the email address above.