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Writing Haiku: How to Write a Haiku by Roger Forrester

Article Author Biography
Writing Haiku: How to Write a Haiku by
Article Posted: 12/01/2011
Article Views: 440
Articles Written: 1
Word Count: 627
Article Votes: 1
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Writing Haiku: How to Write a Haiku

To write something incredible, you need to forget everything you have ever been told about what makes a good haiku and just go with your own instinctual sense of poetic justice.

Trust yourself to convey the beauty of the moment in a way that fits in with the haiku ethos.

This isn't to say that you shouldn't be influenced by all the great haiku poets, just stay authentic. You can do this by trying out your own ideas instead of falling back onto poetic cliches. You might even like to read some haiku before you set about writing your own. Try the great haiku masters Basho, Buson, Issa and Shiki.

Try this step-by-step process to transform your creative potential into pure inspiration:

Find A Subject

Try taking a walk, go outside, look around, smoke a pipe and soak up the atmosphere. Does anything command your attention? What do you notice?

Traditionally haiku are written about natural phenomena, so you might find it easy to write about nature.

Bear in mind that beautiful things do not necessarily translate into beautiful or striking poems. The way you write about the subject of your poem is more important than the subject itself. Presentation is everything.

In a haiku poem, you should show the reader the beauty rather than telling them about it: The image should be directly perceptible. Here is an example to explain:

petal by petal

yellow mountain roses fall-

sound of rapids

In this example, Basho illustrates to the reader the beauty of the moment by appealing directly to the senses. The image is presented in a simple matter-of-fact way that captures the beauty of the moment.


Pick up your pen and let rip, vomit every idea that crosses your mind all over the page. Then, think creatively about what you have there, and think about how you feel.

Write about what you perceive, but not necessarily what you think you perceive. A painter can be more striking by painting a flower than by not actually looking and just painting a typical image of a flower.

Often haiku depict two contrasting images, these are linked using a 'kireji' or cutting word. The grammar of the haiku is used to indicate a distinction between the two images, which are often so different that it takes a creative leap of the imagination to put them together.

Lots of haiku depict the reflection of human emotions in the natural world, or the other way round. You might find that a natural image you come across aptly reflects an inner emotion. This would make a great poem!


Remind yourself of the form of haiku and then try and manipulate your ideas to fit into the form.

You might decide on your two contrasting images, and then pick which one is more prominent to go first in the poem. Once you have done that, you might think about different ways in which the second image can be effectively linked to the first.

Have you incorporated a kigo or season word into your haiku? traditionally, haiku contained a kigo which was a seasonal reference, used to give a certain seasonal backdrop to the poem.

After a while, you might find yourself arriving at finished haiku spontaneously!

Play With It

Consider how the form of your haiku relates to others.

Is it contemporary or traditional?

Does it conform to the 5,7,5 syllable structure?

Avoid cliches, keep it real and true to the moment. Haikus are brand new, reflections of another unique moment. They should ooze a sense of momentary revelation.

You could also try making it not so serious. Try making it lighthearted.


Once you have completed your poem. Submit it to this page so others can see it!

Related Articles - haiku, Writing Haiku, How to Write a Haiku,

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