Haiku – Form

The following is from one of our Poetry Society of Tennessee – Northeastern Branch (PST-NE), Janice Hornburg, who has had success with publishing her haikus. 

Haiku World site has been very helpful to Janice in figuring out how the elusive haiku works. There are links to everything you might want to know about haiku. This site has a monthly kukai (haiku contest) that I occassionally do well in. The Ten Tips are posted on the site. Check it out.

Ten tips for writing haiku

  1. Write in three lines of about 10 to 17 syllables (some writers use a short-long-short format, but sometimes it’s better to just say what you need to say and not worry about form); haiku are usually not 17 syllables long in English.
  2. Try to include some reference to the season or time of year.
  3. To make your haiku more immediate, write in the present tense.
  4. Write about common, everyday events in nature and in human life; choose events that give you a moment of understanding or realization about the truth of things around you—but don’t explain them.
  5. Write from personal experience (memories are okay) rather than from imagination to produce haiku that are authentic and believable.
  6. Create an emotional response in the reader by presenting what caused your emotion rather than the emotion itself.
  7. Put two images together in the poem to create harmony or contrast, using words that are specific, common, and natural (avoid long or conceptual sorts of words).
  8. One image of the haiku can appear in one of the poem’s three lines; the other image can be described in two lines (either the first two or the last two); avoid creating haiku with three images (or three grammatical parts) because this weakens the energy created by the gap between just two parts.
  9. Avoid titles and rhyme (haiku virtually never have either) as well as metaphor, simile, and most other rhetorical devices (they are often too abstract or detours around the directness exhibited in most good haiku).
  10. Avoid awkward or unnatural line breaks and avoid dropping or adding words just to fit a syllable count (the poem should come across as perfectly natural and easy; anything that is choppy or unnatural will detract from the reader’s perception and enjoyment—make the words come across as so natural and easy-going that the reader doesn’t even notice them). And of course, don’t forget to have fun and enjoy experiencing life through your five senses! –Michael Dylan Welch

 We welcome your comments as well. 

Rose Klix 



2 thoughts on “Haiku – Form

  1. Even though I am not a poet, I did have to teach the form and structure when I was in the classroom. Below is an example I used but not a very good one, I fear. It is in the third grade Golden Harvest Workbook which has been sold to numerous schools.

    Sun, gently rising
    Up,around, and over hills
    Welcoming morning


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