The Art of Haiku

As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, when I first started university I was not a massive fan of poetry.  It wasn’t just that I didn’t really understand it (can you ever truly understand poetry though?), but I wasn’t sure if I would ever be capable of writing it.

My poetry workshops across the three years introduced me to writing poetry that followed specific rules, one of which was haikus.  I was already familiar with what constituted a haiku, although I wasn’t definite about anything that I knew so my first foray into degree-level poetry was not as intense as I first feared it would be.

Following a basic 5-7-5 syllabic structure, a haiku is formed of three lines that generally speaking present an observation of nature and a moment of enlightenment from it.  Being so minimal, writing a haiku is quite simple, although ensuring it represents the traditional meaning from the original Japanese poems is somewhat harder.

Whilst these haikus are the most well-known, they are not the only form that the poem can take.  American haikus, whilst still retaining a minimal amount of content, are not so constrained by the same restrictions as the original Japanese works.  They still reflect a similar sense of observation and enlightenment, but a writer has more freedom to present that in the way that think is best for the poem.

I studied both styles of haiku at the beginning of first year and I’m not sure which I would say I connected to more.  Whilst the Japanese ones were easier to produce because of the simplistic structure, the American ones allowed me to write in a way that was more familiar to me.

Below are three haikus of each form that I presented in my final coursework piece for my first year of study.  None of them are perfect, but three years on I still feel quite happy with how they turned out given I was only at the start of my three year love affair with poetry.

 

Japanese Haikus

Downpour

Black sunset calling,

a storm surging through vast fields;

the rain of my tears

English Summer

Escaping the heat

to bathe in the darkest rain;

my watery mirror

Suicide

The blackened freefall;

a cold light in the darkness,

meets a bitter end

American Haikus

Cleansing

Wash myself heavy,

scrubbing skin with skin to stain with

blood

Waves

Starlight in ripples,

a pool of darkness reflects the

shattered water

Downpour

Dark skies bleed

and the lonely tears

cascade down

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