Writing haiku.


All along I’ve been posting haiku under the assumption that all it needed was a seventeen-syllable pattern. Boy, was I wrong.

During a recent trip to the county library, I decided to see what books were available on writing haiku, and the book I found was in the children’s section. It’s titled Haiku by Patricia Donegan, and it’s part of the Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids series. It did feel awkward for a full-grown man like myself to check out a book written for kids, but I wanted to read it and see what it could teach me about writing haiku. And I learned a lot.

Yes, haiku can follow the familiar seventeen-syllable template, but it can also be much shorter. It must at least produce imagery of nature drawn from the author’s own experience, like this one written by an 11-year old kid from Thailand:

a strong wind blew
the roof right off my house
that night I counted stars

There are some other excellent example haiku throughout the book, with a majority of them written by children from around the world. If they can write haiku this well, then there’s a good chance I can too. I found the step by step instructions for writing haiku helpful and will keep them handy as I prepare to write some real haiku for a change.

This book really changed the way I see haiku.

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