Haiku Week

In furtherance of my ideas/plans for this blog, I am starting a column of sorts. It’s actually more of a challenge that I have posed for myself, in order to keep discipline and learn different poetry forms. So anyway, for this weekly column, I am going to pick one particular form of poetry, and experiment with the same for the entire week. This week, I shall be experimenting with one of my favourite forms of poetry- haiku.

Haiku is a very popular form of Japanese poetry. Read Basho, Issa, Yamaguchi Seishi for some great haikus. Every haiku must contain 17 ‘on’ or ‘morae’, which if loosely translated may be called syllables. Traditionally, Japanese Haikus are written in a vertical format in 5-7-5 pattern (also,in 5-12, 8-9, 7-10 etc). Accordingly, various English language poets also prefer to write haikus in 17 syllables, spread across three lines. However, 17 syllables in English are one too many for haikus, and mostly result in a ‘free form haiku’. But any rigid worship of form, instead of content may result in severe dilution, and often, absurdity. Therefore, for the moment, we are going to stick to the North American ‘free-form’ haiku and follow the 5-7-5 pattern. Here is a great article explaining the structure of haikus and the differnce in form between Japanese and English language haikus- http://www.graceguts.com/further-reading/forms-in-english-haiku

Now, there are no hard and fast rules for writing a haiku. I mean there isn’t a guy sitting in his 3 by 3 cubicle, wearing a beige shirt and a black tie, reading your haikus from behind his glasses, and being super judgmental about it. But haikus are closely associated with nature, describes scenes from beautiful, scenic surroundings, intended to evoke romance, melancholoy, joy and longing in the mind of the reader. However, haikus, being a powerful form of poetry, have seen a variety of themes, from the plight of an urban labourer to fighting racial prejudice in modern America. The versatility of a haiku is quite well known and much admired. In any case, the 5 techniques highlighted herein- https://thewayofhaiku.wordpress.com/the-five-techniques/ are quite popular, and I intend to utilize the same for my haikus this week.

So, enough talk about structure and form and all things bureaucratic. Now let’s write.


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