Friday, April 20, 2012

How to write Haiku—simply!

We have so many little birds in our garden. Here's one of them in the lilac tree.

I like listening to them and watching them, and even sometimes writing poems about them.

I especially like haiku because it's so quick and simple. For example:

head cocked, intent...
OK! listening time is over
ee-ep ee-ep chek chek chek chek chek chek chek chek chek

I know a lot of people wouldn't consider that proper haiku because it doesn't follow a lot of complicated and arcane rules. I don't really care.

I have The Haiku Handbook by William J. Higginson and it certainly goes over traditional forms and the background of haiku. I never even read that part of the book. I skipped straight to the simplified lesson plan. In that part, here's what it tells you to ask yourself about your haiku:

Is it brief?
Does it present one or two clear images, with no metaphors or similes?
Does the image, or do the images together, create an emotion in the reader without telling the reader what emotion to feel?

Other things the book says that I like are:

The better haiku use multiple sense imagery.
The image itself is the what. The where and the when are implied.

Some examples from the book:

walking the snow-crust
not sinking

Anita Virgil

keep out sign
but the violets keep on

John Wills

After all these lighthouses
still drawing them crooked

L.A. Davidson

Sunset dying
on the end of a rusty
beer can....

Gary Hotham

dead cat.....
open mouthed
to the pouring rain

Michael McClintock

Missing a kick
at the icebox door
It closed anyway.

Jack Kerouac

I love all of these because they are so simple and they do really evoke such a clear image and emotion.

But hey, how about you, readers? Wanna try writing a simple haiku? I'd love to see them!


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