While some forms of poetry have free form with regards to number of lines and syllables, there is a specific structure for writing haiku poetry. Consider the definition, examples, and structure for constructing haiku.
There are no specific rules for writing haiku; however, the structure of haiku is always the same, including the following features:
Haiku is a descriptive form of poetry.
Originating in Japan, haiku poetry typically discusses subjects from the natural world, including seasons, months, animals, insects, and even the smallest elements of nature, down to a blade of grass or a drop of dew.
While haiku does not have to only cover natural subject matter, it is most often used as a celebration of nature.
Japanese poets have been writing haiku for centuries. Several are shown below as examples. Note: When these poems were written in Japanese they followed the 5-7-5 syllable rule; however, once they were translated from Japanese into English the number of syllables has changed.
Notsume Soseki, who is commonly referred to as the Charles Dickens of Japan, wrote the following poem in the mid-1300s.
Over the wintry forest,
winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
The poet Basho is well known for his beautiful haiku, such as this one:
An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond, splash!
One of the most prolific haiku writters was Richard Wright, an African-American novelist. This haiku was contained in the 1990s collection entitled - Haiku: This Other Word:
Whitecaps on the bay;
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.
Reading through examples of haiku can greatly help you understand, appreciate, and eventually write haiku yourself. Reading haiku to childrencan also help them develop a sense of how to interpret poetry, and begin the process of writing their own simple poems. When reading such haiku poetry out loud to children, consider having them guess what element of nature is being described in the poem.
Even though there are specific rules for writing haiku, the process can still be fun and rewarding.
If you are trying to write haiku for the first time, consider some of the following steps:
Remember to be creative not only with your use of words, but also with your punctuation and word order. Haiku is not designed to read like a sentence, so do not feel bound by normal capitalization and structure rules.