I haiku. Do you?

Pink blossom on tree branches in front of a blue sky.
An example of traditional haiku subject matter. I’m more likely to write about my breakfast, my cat, or my cardiac device. (Photo by AJ on Unsplash)

Those of you who follow me on Twitter are probably aware of my recent dabbling in/massacring of haiku, a short and ancient form of Japanese poetry. Traditional haiku, written by actual poets rather than an interloper like me, can be beautiful and really quite sophisticated (if that’s the type of haiku you are interested in writing, I can recommend this post by writer Katherine Luck to help you get started) but the way I’ve been using them recently is as a form of diary – a time-efficient exercise to distil jumbled thoughts into something a bit more concise and coherent.

I’m pretty sure the majority of people could write a haiku just as well (better!) and as easily as me. If you can count to 17 (or even 7) and you know what a syllable is, you’re already well on your way. Get ready for the haiku rules…

Line 1 has 5 syllables, line 2 has 7 syllables, line 3 has 5 syllables.

And that, for our purposes, is all you need to know.

Not everybody would agree (my English teacher circa 1998 criticised my recent haiku on Twitter! ha!) but I say writing even the most basic haiku is a very worthwhile exercise. The strict syllable limit means you have to get straight to the point with no messing about. The words you would use to express your thought in relaxed conversation probably won’t fit exactly into the haiku structure, so you’ll need to tweak the way you say things, but without losing the essence of your meaning. These tweaked words won’t necessarily be fancier than those you’d use in conversation; in fact, the chances are they’ll be even simpler, with all unnecessaries stripped out. By the time you’ve finished your haiku, what you will be left with is the particular essence of a specific thought. And why wouldn’t we value that?!

Even if you’ve never written creatively before, you CAN write a haiku. Even if you only have 60 seconds to spare, you CAN write a haiku. So from now on, on a semi-regular basis, I’m going to post a haiku prompt/theme on this blog – something to do with hearts/living with heart disease. I’ll let you see a couple of examples of my own and ask you to give it a go too by sharing a haiku of your own in the comments. Hopefully, over time, we’ll end up with a vibrant conversation and a collection of lovely little snippets of lived experience.

Are you up for it? (Please say yes!) I’ll be back soon with the first prompt. Watch this space…

10 comments

  1. I arrived here from the BHF page, then read your excellent short essay about tenement living, then started the haikus without reading the instructions again. They were meant to be on the subject of medication and mine weren’t. So start again

    Bisoprolol blues
    Inexorable weight gain
    C25K yay!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Even better! And I’m glad you didn’t give up on the haiku writing after all 🙂

      Thanks for your nice comments about my piece on tenement living too. Hope you’ll keep an eye on the blog from now on and look out for another hearty haiku prompt soon!

      Like

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