Do You Haiku?

I had lunch with a friend who writes beautiful poetry, especially haiku. Her three lines are profound and powerful and I love them. Now I'm a word person who is terrified of numbers and so had never even considered  trying to write a haiku.

What is haiku?

Haiku is a short form of Japanese poetry. When written in English, it's characterized by three lines of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, and 5 syllables for a total of 17 syllables.

Creative Writing Now has a more complete answer.

Me counting syllables? Um, no thanks.

But I love reading her poetry and she has led me to look up other Haiku artists. I love how haiku can encompass power and simplicity all at once. I love how a poet can highlight an essential detail and say something about the world. I love the focus on nature and life.

Here's a poem by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):

Fallen sick on a journey
In dreams I run wildly
Over a withered moor

So during lunch we discussed how each of us came to be writing what we write. Well, for the most part it seems writing found us, seduced us and led us to pursue it in turn. Her first haiku was almost by accident...journal notes that sounded almost like poetry. She played around with the words until a polished version happened. That was the beginning and now her thoughts almost instinctively fall into lines of poetry.

She reminded me of an essential truth: writing should be playful, fun and exploratory. So I decided to try my hand at haiku. Here's my first attempt:

Grey skies of winter
like silk curtains, showcasing
leaves turning golden.

While haiku is simple, this is very simplistic. It catches a moment in time, but there are no surprises. Also, while haiku traditionally is about the world rather than the's important to me to make my writing personal. So here's my next:

The empty page waits
How to change thoughts into words?
An alchemist quest.

Counting and the required brevity makes me more aware of word choice and also word arrangement. So while my haiku isn't amazingly profound, I'm having fun. And that's what matters when it comes to writing.

So do you haiku? Or read it? Share your thoughts. It's always nice to have a conversation.

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