Why I love the haiku form

The haiku form, originated in Japan, follows this syllable pattern:

5 on the first line
7 on the second line
5 on the last line

This totals 17 syllables. It is not quite that exact and is sometimes varied slightly. Also, traditional haiku employ at least one cutting word to break the sound flow, usually after the second line, and sometimes after the first. This is a hard sound such as “ka” or “ku” or a stopping sound such as “no” or “mo” or “ya.” They also often end in an exclamation, such as “kana.” When written in Japanese, they are often written as one sentence, but still pronounced as if three. Haiku also typically contain a reference to the season and something of nature as a symbol of feelings. In this way, they can convey a lot of meaning in very few words.

Although the grammar and sounds of English are a lot different than Japanese, and it is difficult to find appropriate cutting words and exclamations, I still love working with the form, albeit with a little flexibility. Nothing expresses a single image or emotion more vividly. They force you try to to express every feeling you want to convey in the tiniest of spaces while promoting an awareness of nature, your surroundings, and the time of year. Sometimes I like to attach a picture with the haiku, each adding meaning to the other. Sometimes I prefer to let the haiku stand on it’s own, with only the reader’s imagination to create the image. Either way, it is a powerful form and I find myself often thinking in that way now, as I go about my everyday life.

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