About Haiku

 
Written by Line Monique Gauthier |
Published on:

I encourage everyone to seek out ANY local poetry club, if, for no other reason than the pleasure of meeting other poets face to face.

I attended a meeting of a local HAIKU POETRY group affiliated with HAIKU CANADA. It was held at the Japanese Embassy in Ottawa.

 As you may have guessed any Haiku Group is going to be pretty strict about defining a haiku … Let it be known that I am not crazy about limitations of any kind but I am slowly learning about the benefits of confines...

FYI, here is an informal list of HAIKU GUIDELINES: -

1. OFTEN uses reference to 1 of the 5 seasons: spring, summer, fall, winter, new year,

2. OFTEN the ‘turn’ is on the second line (takes the reader in another direction),

3. NO unnecessary capitalization,

4. NO title,

5. NO unnecessary punctuation at end of lines,

6. NO use of abstract concepts (must be concrete),

7. NO personification,

8. NO unnecessary adjectives or adverbs,

9. NO full sentences: It’s a poem of few words with much left unsaid,

10. NO use of fantasy,

11. NO similes allowed,

12. NO explanation of haiku in last line,

13. NO heavy emotional words (should be felt not read),

14. MUST have a feeling of the present moment (NO past or future),

15. MUST be more than a description,

16. MAX 2 ideas (scenery + thought),

17. Rare use of I, you or we,

18. AND… there is no strict 5-7-5 syllable count – “haiku should be read in one breath” so there can be less syllables per line.

 

WHEW!! Knowing about the rules and obeying them are two different things. LOL

Weeks later I went to a weekend national HAIKU conference. The parting words to us were “Now go out and be haiku activists and help widen awareness of what haiku really is”.  Though I have no intention of becoming a haiku police, I am committed to work on my own haiku skills and… share with anyone interested in listening.

Haiku is so popular yet so little is known about it. It reminds me of how ‘everyone’ thinks SUSHI is raw fish when in fact it is vinegared rice… yet people will argue with you ad nauseum. God bless those with more patience than I who finally do succeed at converting them!

But back to writing poetry, go where your muse takes you but… not every short poem is a haiku. If your poem has feelings similes, metaphors… Consider other forms such as: senryu, monoku, one-liner, tanka.

Quotes from Naomi Wakan’s HAIKU: one breath poetry  p.10 “The best haiku will often leave you pondering  some big thoughts, such as ”What does life mean?” and “Why am I here on earth?””, p.15 “Zen Buddhism connects small moments of life to the whole universe and so, like Taoism, its study is perfect for someone who wants to write haiku. It encourages a very simple lifestyle closely connected to nature and the seasons.” p.43 “To review, a haiku describes one event, is in the present tense and refers to an image(s) somehow connected to nature. A haiku is about something that the poet has noticed, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. The poet makes that moment, however small, a very important one.”  Haiku is about mindfulness. It comes from the senses, no puns, no fancy words. Write what you see not what you feel – give facts without emotion. A haiku should take your breath away, make you ponder and wonder, leave you asking questions. A detail in a moment can reveal some basic truth of the universe.

Another parting thought… Unlike the Japanese haiku that often pay tribute to Mount Fuji or other famous places, we Canadians and Americans avoid to do so. No matter where you are from, join us in starting to pay homage to our local sites, besides many have beautiful or even poetic names.

Line xx

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Author: Line Monique Gauthier
I started writing poetry as a teenager and the passion for it flourished since retiring. I also dabble in photography, watercolour and acrylics. I created what I call Flash Memory Therapy. I am an active member of Haiku Canada and PoetrySoup.com. My poetry is down-to-earth and meant to be understood as opposed to impress with hifalutin words.
My External Website (External Website Opens in New Window)

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