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How To Write A Haiku Poem

So, you want to know how to write haiku poetry. Some people think it should be easy to do. And, like most things, when you understand the underlying principles, it is! Let's begin.

First, let's dispel the 5-7-5 thing right away. Modern haiku is not a slave to the 5-7-5-syllable rule discovered and used by Japanese poets. The good thing about this (actually, it's a real good thing) is that you're no longer a slave to fitting your words neatly into a predefined shape.

Now that we no longer use this syllable rule, it really comes down to what modern haiku poets refer to as fragment and phrase theory.

The majority of modern haiku poetry consists of a fragment, usually no more than 3 words, and a phrase, usually no longer than 5-10 words. The fragment sets the scene or mood while the phrase concretizes it and makes it more substantial. For example, in the haiku:

early evening --
small flat stones
line the shore

You can pretty much guess which part is the fragment and which part is the phrase. The thing that makes this poem unique (and all haiku poems) is the juxtaposition between fragment and phrase. When done "right" you get something many haiku poets call an AHA moment where thought stops and you're transported into the poem firsthand. This is what haiku poets shoot for... that AHA moment. When it happens you know it. And when it doesn't happen - well, you know that too.

You'll also notice the two hyphens at the end of "early evening." This is called the "cut" and is used to make the juxtaposition stand out more. Many haiku poets no longer use the cut but it's really up to you.

Well, that's it. A crash course on how to write haiku.

Submitted by:

Ed Weiss

Edward Weiss is a poet, author, and publisher of Wisteria Press. He has been helping students learn how to write haiku for many years and has just released his first book "Seashore Haiku!" Sign up for our newsletter and get free haiku poems delivered to your inbox every week! Visit http://wisteriapress.com




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