Have you ever considered writing haiku? What can you gain from practicing this lovely craft?

Haiku or ‘exotic verse’, as some prefer to call it, dates back to 16th century Japan, though in the English-speaking world it has only been present for the last 130 years or so. It’s increasingly building up interest in the West, thus nowadays haiku is the most popular form of poetry on the web.

How to define it?

haiku poetry, poetry, poem

Photo by Pixel Fantasy

According to the Haiku Society of America, haiku is:

1) An unrhymed Japanese poem recording the essence of a moment keenly perceived, in which nature is linked to human nature. It usually consists of seventeen onji (syllables)

2) A foreign adaptation of 1), usually written in three lines totalling fewer than seventeen syllables.

Haiku Characteristics

Except for the straightforward characteristics of brevity and juxtaposition – which is considered to be a key technique of haiku – other attributes include: a seasonal nature reference, the immediacy of the ‘haiku moment’, a sense of ‘presence’, and the simplicity and honesty of ‘haiku spirit’.

A haiku moment may be described as a singular everyday occurrence that is experienced with increased awareness and understanding.

This sudden grasp of reality through transcendental perception would help to explain why haiku are considered by some to be of philosophical or religious inspiration, especially in a Zen Buddhist sense.

mind empty of thought –
all the lines in the room
fall into place

Caroline Gourlay

It is the poet’s reaction to what they have experienced through their senses that, when presented spontaneously, objectively and in an open-ended manner, allows the reader to experience and realize these moments for themselves.

These moments are not isolated from the continuum of reality; they are an integral part of life. Therefore, what is left unsaid is just as important as what is recorded. It is the space within and around the haiku that creates an effective poem.

Writing Haiku

Even though it looks simple, haiku is definitely an art. Its minimalism is what gives it the fundamental attractiveness. By practicing haiku, one learns to perceive everyday things in a different light, make observations, and meditate on what’s around them.

If the cat purred while the sun shone on its fur, you’ll be able to register it as a beautiful daily occurrence. After all, less is more and the greatest truths have always laid in the basics.

Although haiku are short, there are not just sound bites. They are condensed meaning. What’s more, they offer calm in the midst of today’s apparent chaos and hectic world. Some haiku poets have even labelled haiku ‘the islands of sanity’.

So, if you’re after a calming writing activity that you can enjoy, give haiku a try and you may get more satisfaction, peace and self-improvement than you can expect.

What’s your opinion on haiku poetry?

PRACTICE

Write a haiku poem, inspired by your perception today. The topic is irrelevant and the simpler the language, the better. When you’re done post it in the comments.

As always, give useful feedback to others’ practices.

Sophie Novak
Sophie Novak

Sophie Novak is an ultimate daydreamer and curious soul, who can be found either translating or reading at any time of day.

She originally comes from the sunny heart of the Balkans, Macedonia, and currently lives in the UK. You can follow her blog and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.