Week Two – Haiku

Even though free form poetry sounds simple sometimes I find that following some rules is a fun way to focus my words. A haiku is a great way to begin with a simple form to dip our toes in the water with.

This week we will try a couple of different ways of approaching the Haiku form.

Haiku (俳句) (plural haiku) is a very short Japan poem with seventeen syllables and three verses. It is typically characterized by three qualities:

The essence of haiku is “cutting” (kiru). This is often represented by the juxtaposition of two images or ideas and a kireji (“cutting word”) between them,[3] a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colours the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.

Traditional haiku consist of 17 on (also known as morae though often loosely translated as “syllables”), in three phrases of 5, 7, and 5 on, respectively.[4] (An alternative form of haiku consists of 11 on in three phrases of 3, 5, and 3 on, respectively.) However, some authors are critical with the distribution of syllables.

A kigo (seasonal reference), usually drawn from a saijiki, an extensive but defined list of such terms.

Modern Japanese haiku (現代俳句 gendai-haiku) are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 on or to take nature as their subject,[citation needed] but the use of juxtaposition continues to be honored in both traditional and modern haiku.[6] There is a common, although relatively recent, perception that the images juxtaposed must be directly observed everyday objects or occurrences.[7]

In Japanese, haiku are traditionally printed in a single vertical line while haiku in English often appear in three lines to parallel the three phrases of Japanese haiku.


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