As mentioned on a recent Twitter post, I’ve decided to set a goal of writing one Haiku poem every day for the next 365 days. I began this project on July 10, 2009, on a whim. My reasons are not necessarily clear at this time, but I believe that as I develop my writing of this poetic form, my thoughts and ideas will take shape in a way that allows me to further explore my motivation.
The Hokku or more properly known as the Haiku is a tiny verse form that was originally introduced by Japanese poets hundreds of years ago. The famous verses from such masters as Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa are properly referred to as Hokku (1600-1868) and must be placed in the proper historical perspective. The history of modern Haiku however, only began in the last years of the 19th century.
Modern Haiku dates back to Masaoka Shiki’s reform in 1892, which established Haiku as a new independent poetic form. Shiki’s reform did not change two traditional elements of Haiku: the division of 17 syllables into three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme. Some of the most exciting Haiku-poems describe daily situations in a way that gives the reader a brand new experience of a well-known situation.
A good Haiku can be more than a mere statement of feeling or a picture of nature but also an implied identity between two seemingly different things. One of the best Haiku writers and a poet who crystallized the style was Basho (1644-1694). In his later years, he was a student of Zen Buddhism, and his later poems which are his best, express a deep awareness in the mystical philosophy of the identity of life and all its forms.
The Haiku is not expected to always be a complete or clear statement. The reader is supposed to add his own associations and imagery to the words and become a co-creator of his own pleasure of the poem. As such, I hope that those that read my poems will appreciate the deeper meaning inherent in each verse.
Here is a basic format for creating your own Haiku poetry:
1. Most Haiku poems focus on the imagery of nature and the natural world.
2. Most Haiku poems are set around nature, picking a topic that relates to a season.
3. When choosing a season, there are a variety of ideas and themes to consider:
• Winter: cold, sadness, hunger, peace
• Summer: warmth, love, anger, temptation
• Fall (Autumn): decay, supernatural, jealousy, saying good- bye, regret, misery
• Spring: infatuation, youth, passion, fickleness, birth or rebirth
4. Haiku poetry comes easier if you write what you’re feeling, versus what you see.
5. Contrast is important. Try to evoke an emotional impact on the last line. In many Haiku poems, the poet will switch moods on the second or third line.
6. You don’t have to write a full sentence. Haiku accepts all forms of writing, including phrases.
7. Haiku poems don’t have to be completely serious in matter. Inject a little humor at times. Most importantly, have fun in the process.