I’ve always loved poetry and when I discovered haiku it was like being handed the biggest, best chocolate bar of all time to munch on.
Haiku, to keep it short and ’cause I an’t good at dis here type of tings, is a type of Japanese poetry that is short, sweet and packs a heck of a punch within very few words. Let me illustrate this with one of the most famous haiku from Basho:
old pond . . .
a frog leaps in
Read it again. Enjoy it, savor it. You see the image of the pond, the frog… and you see the splash without the word being written. So much and in so few words.
One of the misunderstandings about haiku is that it’s got to be written with five syllables on the first line, seven in the second and five in the third – the 5/7/5 taught in classrooms everywhere. This has proven not to be necessarily the case or the rule – the mistake came from people looking at the original Japanese poem which probably did have a 5/7/5 format and then translating it into English – and as anyone who knows a second language can tell you, a word doesn’t ever translate perfect both in meaning and in syllables. The idea is to get your concept across and not be trapped by the 5/7/5 format these days.
The Haiku Society of America has many more resources if you want to look into this type of poetry and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to experience a whole new world.
But what I *really* want to tell you about is NaHaiWriMo!
Imagine National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but for haiku writers. Yep, for every day in February you’re invited to write a haiku and post it here on Facebook. If you’re interested in dabbling with haiku and looking for a fun, friendly community to visit I can’t say enough good things about this group. You’ll also see everyone’s poems and enjoy the efforts from fans around the world.
In closing I’d like to toss out one of my earlier works – it sticks to the 5/7/5 and was written before I discovered I didn’t have to be formal:
first steps in red soil
atop the shallow crater
inukshuk looks back.
In closing I hope you’ll visit the various haiku sites and find out more about this short and sweet type of poetry. And maybe you’ll even NaHaiWriMo!