Explore everything we offer students and teachers

Explore all of our learning and teaching solutions

Got a Kanye-sized ego? → Test it on our Ego-Meter
+
How to Write a Haiku

How to Write a Haiku

Objective:

Students will know the difference between a traditional Japanese Haiku and an English Haiku. Students will be able to demonstrate their understanding of an English Haiku by selecting an image from nature and writing a haiku about the image.

(more)
See More
Tutorial

Inspiration Comes From Nature

Get up and walk outside. Take a moment to look around. What little details do you notice right now, that you miss everyday because you are in a hurry rushing here or there? Find a special moment, feeling or image with in nature. Close your eyes and picture it. Think - how do you feel? What is important about this image - the details? Is there a secret or a surprising detail about the image? Does it have a story to tell?

Traditional Japanese Haiku poetry is composed of 17 units divided into three parts (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). Japanese Haiku poets write their poems in one line; however, in English Haiku each part is written on a separate line. It is important to divide the three parts to allow the reader time to form an image in their mind.

An English Haiku looks like this:

Five Syllables

Seven Syllables

Five Syllables

Something to think about before you start writing, Haiku poems should include the following:

  • Focus on nature or a natural occurrence
  • Includes a seasonal word (like snow) that indicates what time of year it is
  • The poem should have a natural division: First part of the image, Second part of the image and Third the surprise relationship about the two parts
  • Haiku poets describe the details of the natural image that causes emotion rather than saying the actual emotion
  • Remember Sensory Language to help in writing a Haiku (smell, sight, hearing, touch, taste)

Start Writing:

  1. Find an image of nature that inspires you.
  2. Do not worry about counting syllables yet - just start writing.
  3. Write the first two lines about your image of nature.
  4. Write the third line with a surprise or intriguing point of view - it should be completely different from the first two lines.
  5. Look over what you wrote. Does the combination of the lines create a visual in the readers mind that has a surprise ending?
  6. Rewrite the poem in Haiku format (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables). Experiment with words that create imagery and enhance feeling.
  7. Don't be afraid to try new ideas and perspectives. Read your Haiku aloud to yourself - how does it sound? Does it use sensory language and create a surprising moment?

Examples of "Winter Haiku" poems by Charles de Lint

November 29

Ridiculous:

another blizzard; the world

goes quietly white

December 18

Moonlight casts a pale

blue light on the snow, winter

perfect, cold and brisk

December 26

The bare limbs of the

trees shiver in the wind and

speak in semaphore

Source: de Lint, Charles (2002). Winter Haiku. retrieved online April 2012 from http://www.endicott-studio.com/cofhs/chhaiku.html

Questions and Answers

  • Answers 0
    Expand
    Peter Bryenton about 2 months ago

    I don't have a question but thank you for this helpful tutorial, which will form the basis of a lesson I am planning for some blind and partially sighted young wordsmiths.

    Report
  • Answers 0
    Expand
    Anissa Garcia 8 months ago

    Mrs. Hill I had a really hard time getting to sophia I had alot of glitches and it was hard to do my homework.

    Report
  • Answers 0
    Expand
    Valen Flaherty over 1 year ago

    How are you so smart Mr.Mead.????

    Report
  • Answer 1
    Expand
    Jennifer Harriss almost 2 years ago

    I liked the tutorial but why is it in photography? Good information about the traditional structure and connection between the various lines in the haiku.

    Report
    •  
      Author
      Jennifer Kaufenberg answered over 1 year ago

      Thank you for your comments. The connection to photography comes from using photographs to inspire poetry. I encourage students to take a camera and go for a walk. The challenge is to find what inspires them (moves them emotionally) and write about it. Combining these two wonderful art forms can be very powerful. It is nice to see the printed photo and the Haiku displayed together.

      Report
  • Answer 1
    Expand
    Brett Cease almost 2 years ago

    Jennifer!

    I really enjoyed your presentation and think that this tutorial is really helpful!

    I especially found your instructions regarding how to enter into framing a haiku and connecting it to the natural world to be very centering and clearly articulated! This really put me in a calm and reflective place.

    One thought to beef up your presentation, especially on a sofia project, would be to incorporate some of these stunningly beautiful haikus into a visualized experience. Maybe overlay them on top of complimentary images and create a slideshow link?

    Report
    •  
      Jennifer
      Jennifer answered almost 2 years ago

      Brett - I really like the slideshow idea. That would be an excellent way to add that needed visual. I tried to think of something else to add and did not come up with anything exciting! Your idea fits, thanks.

      Report
  • Answer 1
    Expand
    Laura McClanahan almost 2 years ago

    We needed this on Saturday!

    Report
    •  
      Author
      Jennifer Kaufenberg answered almost 2 years ago

      Funny how life works!

      Report
Visual Communications

A positive sign:
Our Visual Communication Course is only $329.

Sophia college courses cost up to 80% less than traditional courses. *