A haiku is traditionally a Japanese poem consisting of three short lines that do not rhyme. April 17th is Haiku Poetry Day which offers a fun opportunity to explore Haiku poetry and learn how to write one of our own. The poem is typically beautifully descriptive with colorful images and can be read in one breath.
Haiku poems can be traced back to the 9th century. In the 17th century, Basho, a famous Japanese poet, brought the poems to a more esteemed level. The poem focuses on a brief moment in time, uses colorful images and and leaves the reader with a sense of enlightenment. Haiku poetry traditionally discusses abstract subjects or those from the natural world, including seasons, months, and/or animals.
Examples of traditional Haiku poems from Matsuo Basho (1644 – 1694):
An old silent pond…
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.
Traditional Haiku Structure
- There are only three lines, totaling 17 syllables.
- The first line is 5 syllables.
- The second line is 7 syllables.
- The third line is 5 syllables like the first.
- Punctuation and capitalization are up to the poet, and do not have to follow the rigid rules used in structuring sentences.
- A haiku does not have to rhyme.
- It can include the repetition of words or sounds
Steps for Writing a Haiku
- Begin by reading examples of haiku to help you understand the construction of haiku. Reading haiku to children can also help them develop a sense of how to interpret poetry.
- Create a list of subjects to write about – what inspires you and keep into consideration animals, nature, and the seasons.
- Look at a few pictures of your poems subject or go outside to view for inspiration of words.
- Make a list of words that relate to your subject you have chosen while keeping in mind how the words make you feel.
- The last line typically makes an observation about your subject. Maybe make an unexpected relationship between the first two lines and the third.
Learning about Haiku poetry may open your child’s eyes (and ours!) to a new form of art that inspires them to be more creative. It may just also teach all of us something more about nature and emotions. Have fun writing your own Haiku!