About Haiku and Tips on Writing them

Haiku – a wonderful way to parcel your thoughts; a way to polish them into just the right words – like a very small picture frame – yet able to display a large landscape of ideas.

Below, is an excerpt from my introduction to the book, “Poems from Home: a Collection of Illustrated Haiku”;  for fun I wrote a little bit of it in haiku – the recipe sort of goes like this:

Hai/ku – three/ lines /of

five – se/ven – five syll/ab/les

does /not /need /to /ryhme

A small form but with
focused thought and careful word
choice – much can be said.

The syllable count is an English approximation to the Japanese form..not a hard fixed rule – brevity is the key; even less can be better. I have shared a few of my illustrated haiku in a previous post.

This is a scanned in page from the introduction to my haiku book; which I want type up, yet still keep the illustrations around my words. Hmmm may take a bit of doing..and time!

Part of intro to my book
I used my watercolours and pen (on paper, not iPad) too illustrate my introduction my haiku book. This is part of a three page introduction.

Tricky to scan in, sorry about the blur and not so neat writing, however, I think from it you can glean a bit more information about haiku.

I list in the back of my book, research resources on haiku and one book in particular on this subject that I really like and have referred back to often is: “One Breath Poetry” by Naomi Wakan: lovely llustrations very informative; yet a refreshing simple little book – much in the nature of a haiku itself!

Gumleaves and worrds
The drawing I did here with my haiku is called a haiga, a Japanese term for a quick drawing which is intended to capture the essence of a haiku.

My haiku are not often about nature and seasons; so in this way are not typical traditional Japanese haiku. Though I try and hold to the traditional ideas of: catching a moment or having a surprise twist end or adding a touch of humour as in a “senyru”; a form of haiku which shows wit. And, whatever I may lack in wit, I do hope at the least, to make the reader smile:)

*In the caption, under my haiku here, I mention haigi, which I will talk more about in a post in the not-to-distant future. I drew this in “Zen Brush”, it also has a wide selection of lovely Japanese paper to choose from. More about apps I use on my page,”About Some Art apps, Other apps and My Books”.

I also use some ryhme. Again not common to traditional haiku; more an english variation of the form – and there’s much to be read on these variations! I look at some of these areas, in the introduction of my book; which I hope to have eventually, in one way or another, available to share with you. 

Tips about Writing a Haiku

One way to write a haiku or just about anything (the first few points are general writing practices I often use) is to:

  • think of a topic ( traditional or otherwise) then: rush down your thoughts – your words on paper, (this is one writing activity not so easy to do on an iPad) in messy sentences or jumbled words, the faster the better. You don’t, want spelling and grammar concerns (though very important, they can come later) to get in the way of chasing and catching your ideas!
  • Then read back over your writing: circling words, underlining sentences or fragments of a sentence – rethink what you want to say and sculpt out just the words, that seem to suit your needs.
  • Next, play around with the words and change them completely if neccessary; till, you have a few that get to the essence; the heart of the: topic, theme, subject matter.
  • Though the syllable count is not a strict rule, it can be it fun to try and keep to lines of: 5 then 7 then 5 syallbles…I sometimes click my fingers or clap to hear the sound bites of each syllable in a line of words.

If you touch on these words free printable, they will take you to a post; where, about half way down is a free printable: an illustrated sheet, called “catch your thinks into ink”, which you may find interesting. 🙂

Hope you feel inspired to have a go. Feel free to share them with me here; love to see them.