How to Write Haiku Poetry to Help Learning: Explanation of Poem Structure, Advantages, Have a Go & Examples
Haiku form explained
For those of you who are not familiar with Haiku, it is a Japanese poetry form with
only 3 lines:
- 5 syllables
- 7 syllables
- 5 syllables,
should contain an indication of ‘time of year’
and should have a ‘cutting’ word (change of view/surprise), usually in the second line.
It should also make you think!
Have a go at composing your own; think of a subject, describe it as simply as possible but use colourful, unexpected words, maybe juxtaposed, maybe contrasting in different ways. Put together the unusual, like settees and rivers or dogs and skis! It's great fun and you'll be surprised what effective poetry you can create.
Read over each one and see if you can make it crisper, more succinct, play with alternative words. I find that one haiku often gives me an idea for another.
I suppose the trick is to say as much as possible in as few words as possible, whilst creating as much effect as possible. Not that I always manage to do that but it's great fun trying!
Warm Thoughts for a Winter's Day
The sun is ablaze
burning off the mist - bluebells
bask; I smile, captured.
My feet too constrained,
the shoes come off. Hot, beaded
grains of sand massage.
The water rushes
into shore, he runs shrieking,
pure joy in his eyes.
Dappled shade it gives,
the full canopy - dripping
drinks of fresh growth rain.
In his Eyes
Trees rustle, sway
and swoop above, his eyes wide
in baby wonder.
Swallows & Starlings
The swallows dart in
magnetic blue twilight - grab
their unwary prey.
Starlings on the wire,
‘Move up, move up, fall in line!
Gossip tweet on air!’
Advantages over other Poetry
Traditional poetry is beautiful and has structure too, of course. However, to appreciate it properly, we need time to read it, quietly, without distraction. It takes even longer to write it; to include all the emotions and descriptions that one wants to convey, to do justice to the poetry and to oneself.
Haiku can be done in an instant; it's so much fun and you can include just as much emotion. It's brilliant for concentrating thoughts during the day, to catch an idea and encapsulate it, to record ideas in almost memo form! It's a good discipline to practise and it's a brilliant way for children to start writing poetry - they don't have to find a rhyme but they still have to conform to some rules.
Part of an Anthology
Use in Teaching
I have used this form of poetry to encourage and help a dyslexic student who, though he had a good vocabulary, had difficulty recognising syllables as well as being able to organise information in his head to put to paper. His general knowledge and his varied vocabulary was channelled so that he had to choose his words carefully to convey exactly what he meant; the results were amazing. He was over the moon - a person who often struggled at school. We put together an anthology which was circulated in school and used for fund-raising.
The key to writing Haiku (or anything else for that matter!) is not to be afraid, to let your imagination go and see what happens. You'll probably be surprised at the result! Good Luck!!
Are you Haiku Happy?
Did you already know about Haiku?
© 2012 Ann Carr