Have you ever read or written a haiku?
What are some possible relationships between form and content in a poem? If you change the form of a poem, do you change it’s meaning? If so, why?
Does a poem have the power to evoke realities in nature? How can a poem do that?
POETRY LESSON #6: Haiku
In English, a haiku is often a three line poem. Traditionally, the first and third lines consist of five syllables; the second line of seven. There is an important thought or image break after the first or second line.
Needed: Green tea. California sushi rolls. Teriyaki chicken over jasmine rice. Orgami papers with a book of instruction on how to make paper cranes. CD of 17th century, instrumental Japanese music. Enjoy! Then …
In groups of four, write an adaptation of the kesan renga in English. Each member of the group writes a haiku, one after another, until everyone has written three haiku for a total of 36 lines. Mention the moon three times, flowers (traditionally, cherry blossoms) twice, and use a “season” word to indicate the season in which the haiku is set.
Take photographs of the natural world. Consider your most perceptive memories of vivid moments and experiences in the natural world. These photographs and “snap-shot” memories can be the basis for a haiku.
Matsuo Basho was a 17th c. Japanese poet. He wrote one of the most famous haiku in Japanese. See “Matsuo Basho: Frog Haiku” for 30 English translations and a commentary.
Read several haiku by different poets, both translations from Japanese and original compositions in English. Then write your own haiku and/or haiku sequence. Remember, your haiku should contain concentrated, powerful images from nature.
Read selections from Paul Negri, ed., Great Sonnets (New York, Dover Thrift Editions, 1994).
For a varied discussion of haiku and related forms, see Hi to Haiku.