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Can You Haiku?

Updated on December 31, 2014

A friend of mine recently commented on Haiku poetry; he quoted Basho about the many rules that apply to this beautiful poetic form: “Learn the rules, and then forget them.”

I love this is stunning style of poetry. Yet there are literally dozens of rules that govern its writing; I was amazed to discover just how many published conventions, interpretations, composition instructions and guidelines contradict each other.

For example:

· do not use of pronouns;

· use limited pronouns;

· always write in 5,7, and 5;

· move beyond 5, 7, and 5;

· only use acceptable techniques;

· never use rhyme;

· rhyme is sometimes permitted;

· use present tense of here and now;

· use a word that denotes a season;

· seasons need not be present in Haiku;

· use images of nature – not of humanity;

· and many more.

The following pseudo-Haiku were written with tongue-in-cheek humor about my disconcerted learning process. (No disrespect intended.) Thus, the disclaimer: The following are Haiku puns and therefore do not follow all of the rules.

Five, seven and five,

No anthropomorphism;

Haiku rules, sternly.

Spring must never spring,

Fall cannot follow summer;

Winter has no choice.

Seventeen pure sounds,

Syllables to you and I;

Let us counts the ways.

The first two I write

Of my thoughts, senses and mood;

You can write the third.

Japanese, English...

Traditional to modern;

Lost in Translation.

Intrepid words stray

Beyond five, seven and five;

Seasons come and go.

Water does not splash

On frogs that spring eternal;

Hopeful is the pond.

© Copyright by Genna East. All Rights Reserved

"How to Haiku" by Justin Latimer of YouTube


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    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Kim. What a nice thing to say! Hugs to you as well, dear Sunnie. :-)

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Audrey. I had fun writing these. :-)

    • profile image

      Sunnie Day 

      6 years ago

      Of course only you Genna can make this Haiku so perfect, teaching us along the way. Gifted and wonderful you are!



    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      6 years ago from California

      You are such a talented writer! I loved these, especially the last one---

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Well said! The true master can be elusive. Thank you for your visit and thoughtful comments. :-)

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      6 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      The brief and exquisite nature of the Haiku is a magnet for poets seeking a challenge for their skills. Within the Haiku genre there is room for additionally challenging yourself because the true mastery can be elusive.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Oh, Nellieanna and Pearl, I could not agree more. :-) And the Suzuki quotation is superb and very apropos. Understanding technique is important, but we have to leave this behind at some point where it becomes second nature. “…technique is but the bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds.” As Basho once said, “learn the rules, and then forget them.” Thank you!

    • Pearldiver profile image

      Rob Welsh 

      6 years ago from Tomorrow - In Words & NZ Time.

      Well said Nellieanna... technique is but the bridge between the conscious and unconscious minds... but the strength and permanence of the bridge is dependent upon the technique built within... hahaha I realized this when I first found that I could talk in my sleep!

      Sorry Genna.. couldn't resist commenting on Nellieanna's wisdom... This hub was an excellent way of sharing confusion... I doubt any reader could not agree with what you have shared.. Haiku is also an art form that adapts stylishly to the wider perspective, which when considered, truly emphasizes beauty.. Enjoyed this hub, your haiku and the comments of your readers... cheers... take care... PD

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      Kalini recently posted an illustration on FB of Japanese archers, on which was a quote which I immediately noticed applies to so many of the traditional Japanese arts, including haiku.

      "If one really wishes to be master of an art, technical knowledge of it is not enough. One has to transcend technique so that the art becomes an 'artless art' growing out of the Unconscious."___D.T. Suzuki

      I've read his advice about the martial arts, and this is the underlying message there, as well. In fact, all I've ever read and perceived about these arts seems to arrive at - (or essentially start with) - that premise. So technique is studied but then all the major training in it involved is to return the practitioner of whichever art to his own 'Unconscious' where response is non-cerebral and relearns to arise immediately & effortlessly from the 'wisdom of the the body'.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Ohhh, I know what you mean. “No anthropomorphism”; that’s the one I struggle with all the time, and usually fail at consistently. Thanks for those thoughtful comments, dear friend. I'm still a rank novice and amateur with Haiku.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      PS - I'm definitely still learning. The one haiku I wrote - about 40 years ago - I called a 'quasi haiku' and even that was probably too generous! haha Yours are so much better! You've pointed out another error mine made - movement. Not human, but a rabbit.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      If anyone can master it, it would be you, Genna! You obviously have depth of understanding of it! I truly appreciate that. It's so much more than a writing style, but is linked with a way of life in which understanding comes from years - or a lifetime - of exposure, experience, teaching of a basic premise of reality, - just to get a student to a place of quietness and perception of something which is almost foreign to most of us not in that culture. The formality of it is like a sacrament to the truth it is expressing.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Till;

      Thank you, my friend, but I know little about this beautiful poetic style. If I write Haiku, I usually state, “pseudo Haiku,” like above, so as to not be disrespectful to those who are brilliant with its true form. So this was a lot of fun to write. Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing. Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Nellieanna;

      Thank you for stopping by; and your comment was very sweet, thank you. :-)

      If I am correct, the traditional Haiku is the 5, 7, 5, where the third line presents an image or thought that juxtaposes or contrasts, so to speak, with the first two, but is relational. Nature is usually mentioned but cannot have movement or “behavior” that can be defined as human (no anthropomorphism). The modern rules are a bit more forgiving. This definition is very simplistic as there is more involved.

      Anywho, I’m still learning. :-)

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      I am beginning to like Haiku :-)

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      Words fail to trickle

      Thoughts do not arrive alone

      Love what you wrote down!

      haiku or not, this was the best thing I've read about haiku! I believe you are a trailblazer for the rest of us. voted up, awesome and shared.

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      6 years ago from TEXAS

      I came, as intended; I admired, as expected; but I cannot comment further, as destined. . . at least, not now.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi Martie. I love the game you play with your BF...that's exactly what I meant by "You write the third."

      And I'm still laughing over your Haiku and "Foot stuck stuck in bear trap." Lol! That made my day.

      Thank you, and I hope you are enjoying this weekend as well. :-)

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      6 years ago from South Africa

      I was once fascinated with this exquisite poetry myself, but at the end I got so confused, no longer sure what it was really supposed to be. I thought emotions were not allowed, that it was the description of two 'images', one being a metaphor for the other. I chuck haiku because poetry for me is about emotion... emotional cramps in my case...

      But I still love to do haiku, though in the same nature as crossword puzzles. This is actually a game my BF and I play when we are doing road trips. One would describe an image and the other would provide a specific interpretation/metaphor. I must share one with you, Genna... lol!

      Long legs on high heels

      molded in black silk stockings -

      Foot stuck in bear trap.


      Enjoy this 1st weekend of 2013, Genna!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, spy. :-)

    • unknown spy profile image

      Not Found 

      6 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Hi Genna! Great haikus!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Hi GoFor.

      Yes, good times can be had. :-) Thank you!

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image

      Joshua Patrick 

      6 years ago from Texas

      I love this place so

      Good times to be had by all

      Voted up, awesome!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thanks you, Pers. I'm still learning, and look forward to reading our Haiku. :-)

    • Perspycacious profile image

      Demas W Jasper 

      7 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

      Since our last HP meeting I have continued to have fun with Haiku on a regular basis (Americn Haiku that is.) In a sense they are easier poems to write once the pattern sinks in. Mine are mostly about emotions and people-centered events, not the purely "nature speaking to us variety." Good effort in this hub of yours.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Please forgive me for not responding sooner, but I have been literally overwhelmed with work these past few weeks. I haven’t had two minutes to myself, it seems.


      Hi is good to see you! I'm pleased you enjoyed the humor. :-)


      Thank you. All of the rules an be intimidating, but I think it's well worth the effort. I look forward to reading yours soon.


      Hi there and hugs! Good to see you back! :-) I love your "Haiku birds went flying out"; my favorite line in this clever Haiku. :-)


      Hello Eddy; yes, it does grow on you. I am pleased to hear you are still writing Haiku. Hugs.


      Best wishes to you as well. Thanks for the visit, and the thoughtful comments. I have no doubt that you will master Haiku soon, and well. Take care.

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 

      7 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      Haiku is always able to give me a headache. But every time I managed to write one, the feeling that I accomplished something really good so I keep trying to write it. I hope I can mastering it someday.

      Thank you for the lesson. I like what you friend said,

      “Learn the rules, and then forget them.”

      Have a nice day there

      Best wishes


    • Eiddwen profile image


      7 years ago from Wales

      The very first time I composed Haiku I just did not feel at ease with it but after a few more shots it grew on me.

      This is a great hub Genna;an in depth lesson.

      Take care and enjoy your day.


    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      Having written some for Valentine's day recently , I fully appreciate your feelings. I too was perturbed by the profusion of rules and misconceptions and in the end just went and wrote some the way my heart told me to! Love your haiku on haiku!

      Rules built some cages

      Haiku birds went flying out

      Wings spread wide and high

    • acaetnna profile image


      7 years ago from Guildford

      I love reading Haiku poetry , especially yours but I have not tried it myself yet. Maybe I should!

    • b. Malin profile image

      b. Malin 

      7 years ago

      While I Love the Flow and Rhythm of a Haiku Poem, I have not try to write one yet...Not yet... I so Enjoyed your Hub with it's Tongue and Cheek Humor Gina. Fun read!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you, Sofie. I agree with you; rules are made to be bent. And thank you for the always brings a smile. :-)

    • sofs profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing Genna, had me smiling all the way through! I for one believe poetry is a divine utterance of the heart that cannot be restrained...I know that many will not like my definition... but it is good to challenge yourself once in a while by fitting into haiku's metric and style! Well done...the rules are made to be bent... :) Good one here!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Thank you so much...I think I'm the one that desperately needs tutoring. Good to see you and I appreciate the thoughtful words and vote. :-)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      This is marvelous Genna! Now I know why I have not tried my hand at Haiku :-) I would like to. Are you willing to tutor me? Voted up and more!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Lol, Will. I usually have a glass of red wine before I re-read the rules...such are the trappings of Haiku, but I am determined (a.k.a. stubborn). :-) Good to see you.

    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Much too hard for me

      Too complicated, you see

      Think I'll have a beer

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      7 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      I love to write poems always have. Haiku is new to me. I would like to try it. I keep reading all the Haikus on here and I love them but I still shy away from them.. Thanks for writing this great hub. Maybe I will try.. but in the meantime I am going to bookmark this for future use. voted way up


    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Just Ask Susn

      Any time is a good Susan. :-) I agree with you which is why I wrote these pseudo-Haiku. Having fun and excitement with the writing is what it is truly all about. Your “Fog A Haiku” is one of my favorites. And thank you!


      Good to see you, and thank you for the nice comment. When the spirit returns, you will write them again, I know. I am still learning. Take care and enjoy the day. :-)

    • bingskee profile image


      7 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      tried Haiku before and stopped. i had stopped writing poems a long time ago. i was just learning to write haikus then i stopped because of many reasons.

      you have an edge in writing haikus.

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Late to the party

      Sorry for showing up late

      Enjoyed all haiku's

      So many of my haiku's are probably not correct but I so enjoy writing and reading them.

      Up and Awesome Genna!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Always Exploring

      Hello Ruby. Thanks for the laughter – I am so pleased you got the humor as this was my intent, dear friend. It is why I used rhyme in the title; rhyme is also frowned upon with Haiku. I love your Haiku, by the way. And you are so right…what the heck – leave us alone! Lol!


      Hello – good to see you! What a nice thing to say; thank you. I waited a long time before I started to write Haiku, and I’m still learning. There are Haiku writers on the hub that are better then I with this unique art form…I’m still struggling with it a bit. Have a great day! :-)

      @Alastar Packer

      Thank you. I had hoped readers would have some fun with this Haiku, so I am happy you enjoyed this tongue-in-cheek approach. Actually, there are about 40-50 rules in all; it’s a long list that I couldn’t get to quote here…not enough room. My hope is that people will enjoy writing Haiku, and not to be put off by the rules. Have a great day.


      Hello Bob! Loved your Haiku…very clever, and very true. :-)

      Cheers and enjoy the day!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      Hello Joyce. I agree that some Haiku can be hard to understand. Good to see you and thanks or the comment and vote.

      Have a great day. :-)


      Hi Lesley. Yes, there are dozens of them, and a number of experts disagree with how to write Haiku. For example, one does not have to follow the 5,7, and 5 rule. This is what was making learning how to write Haiku properly so confusing. Thanks for the wonderful comments and vote. Cheers!

    • diogenes profile image


      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      "There is no right way,

      Only this way and that way."

      Read with interest"


    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Like this Genna; you've presented the haiku poem in a fun and unique way. The breakdown on the rules is helpful too in understanding the art of haiku writing better.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      I have learned something new today and I thank you for the education on Haiku. I am sure there is a beauty unknown in the lyrics that takes time to appreciate. It is a little too much for me to tackle so I will enjoy reading your lovely posts instead.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      7 years ago from Southern Illinois

      HaHa..I can't stop laughing. This is funny. I can't count the times i've changed a Haiku into a Senryu and vice versa...What the heck!! We're having fun. Leave us alone..Hee..Loved it Genna

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Genna, I didn't realise there were so many rules with haiku!

      I loved your haiku and voted up.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 

      7 years ago from Southern Nevada

      This Haiku poem is good, sometimes I don't understand some of the Haiku poems. Voted up and beautiful, Joyce.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      @Keri Summers

      Hello Keri. Thanks for that wonderful and interesting comment!

      There must be 40-50 rules with Haiku. I will definitely look up your recommendations. It was disheartening to see certain experts contradict each other on just what those rules are; many cannot get past the 5-7-5.

      Please thank your husband for me. It is good to hear that he has moved well beyond the confines of the 5, 7, and 5. I look forward to reading his work as well. It sounds as though he is indeed an expert with this art form. Take care and enjoy the day! :-)


      Hi there. Yes, you and I both know that we are rebels at heart, if not gypsies of poetry. Hubby said to me the other day, “Hmmmm…Haiku? And how long will this infatuation last? What about your short stories and free verse?” Lol. He knows I will become a little nervous with learning 40+ rules in writing this kind of poetry. :-) Have a great day!

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      Hi Mike. Thank you. I am certainly committed to this poetic form; I hope I am on my way. Cheers, and I hope you have a great weekend!


      Hi Dana. And thank you, kind sir…you are like a knight in shining armor. :-) I’m happy you picked up on the puns and play on words. Take care of you. Hugs to you and M.

    • Genna East profile imageAUTHOR

      Genna East 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA


      Thanks so much for stopping by. I understand Haiku, but writing it can be challenging with all of the rules.


      Hey there. :-) Thank you...humor is what I was aiming for. Good to see you, my friend!

    • Cardisa profile image

      Carolee Samuda 

      7 years ago from Jamaica

      A Haiku lesson in Haiku! You are just amazing Genna. I had decided to stay away from Haiku because I think poetry shouldn't have rules...that's the rebel in me I might just practice with it a bit.

    • Keri Summers profile image

      Keri Summers 

      7 years ago from West of England

      Hi Genna. My husband is a haiku tutor (proper one not of the 5:7:5 aficionado's, he's widely published, award-winning etc), and so I asked him what one book he would recommend to someone in your position. He suggested "Haiku: A Poet's Guide" by Lee Gurga. You'll find it on Amazon if you fancy taking a look. If you try to learn all the rules at once, it's overwhelming, but you find yourself picking them up naturally as you get your head around it more and learn to respond to nature etc with a "haiku" mind. In the meantime, yours are some of the best and most worthwhile "pseudo-haiku" I think I've ever read! Liked the hidden Basho reference! Good luck with your haiku if you decide to continue.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      For once, I am not late party.

      Dear Lady,

      LOL. Funny, Genna -- and very clever.

      This one is my favorite:

      ‘Japanese, English...

      Traditional to modern;

      Lost in Translation.’

      The deliberate and subtle misinterpretation you created with Basho is brilliant – there are dozens of them out there:

      ‘Water does not splash

      On frogs that spring eternal;

      Hopeful is the pond. ‘

      Hang in there, Genna. I recommend ‘The Sound of Water’ by Sam Hamill – nothing is ‘Lost in Translation.’

      Thanks for the nod -- before I forget, Molly says, “Hugs back.”

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      7 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Words drip from your pen

      A Haiku cherry blossom

      Drifts down to the earth


      Genna your haiku journey is well on its way.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These pseudo-haikus are cute Genna. I love this poetry too but have never been able to master the art of writing them. The rules are confusing and formidable. Good luck – I know you’ll succeed in finding the ‘write’ guides.

    • nishlaverz profile image


      7 years ago from N.E England

      I've never got to understanding Haiku to me they seem to make no sense.


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