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Finding A Voice with Haiku


Writing Japanese haiku can be challenging. Japanese haiku writers usually centered their poems around nature and the human experience as it relates to nature. They avoided sounding too wordy and they didn't use techniques such as metaphors or similes to covey descriptive thought. They also did this in a few words as possible. Their poems almost sound like one line sentences. They avoided stir up emotions so only nature and poetry exist from their writings.

The also followed a 5-7-5 syllable structure which is hard to master in English since the language differs drastically from Japanese. What may be 5-7-5 word count in Japanese may be longer or shorter in the English dialect. It why most American haiku writers ignore the 5-7-5 structure rule. Some even write in 4-3-4 or shorter than the standard 5-7-5 structure too meet the few lines as possible guideline or to envoke prolific emotion of Japanese haiku poetry.

Haiku genius poets often tied two different themes together to create something unexpected in the second to last lines. These things included spirit and matter, present and future, doer and deed, word and thing and meaning and sensation.

This makes haiku poetry one of the most prolific and artistic forms of literature to master.

It not just creating three simple lines of poetry but rather saying so much in as little lines and words as possible whether its about nature or the contrast of both nature and the natural world. Modern haiku can also be about other topics as long as it is meaningful and grips the reader.

In all fairness your haiku poems can be completely random. American modern haiku breaks many rules when crafting haiku poetry.

I have tried my best to stick with the 5-7-5 formula as did iconic American black novelist Richard Wright did with his haiku poetry.

It is a learning experience as I have switched from writing free verse to haiku.

Here is a haiku poem below that does not follow the strict 5-7-5 syllable structure but the message is quite powerful and unique. Sonia Sanchez is an American poet. Her poems is about the death of a young boy in 1956. Her poem is political but still honors Japanese standards.

Her poem has a 4-1-2 syllable structure and just 6 words. It is a outstanding haiku poem that gives the one sentence feel such as Japenese masters of haiku. It speaks about a natural occurrence which is death and has a nature reference of light.

American Iconic Poet Sonia Sanchez

I/ hear/ your/ pulse


Ne/glec/ted /light

Richard Wright

This/ au/tumn/ eve/ning

Is/ full/ of/ an/ emp/ty /sky

And/ one/ emp/ty /road

In Richard Wright poem a season is stated in the first line which is autumn. The second line is a contrast of a dark empty sky in nature and the third line a empty road in the human experience . You see how the second and third line tie into each other to create a different circumstance such as nature of an empty sky and human feelings of walking a empty road. There also a reference from the present. Three different things are happening all at once. Autumn evening, empty sky and empty road which can suggest a feeling of loneliness. Richard Wright poem is written in a 5/7/5 syllable structure and gives a one sentence vibe of 13 words. He is one of the great American icons of Japenese haiku.

This is how to master haiku.

My haiku poems are usually centered around the human experience and nature. I also like to write about other subjects as well. I like to follow the 5-7-5 structure. Here are my haiku poems. If you enjoyed this article please leave a comment below.


Summer dolphins leap

While the happy children watch

At Laguna beach


A crow travels north

Leaving a feather behind

An enormous tree


In Arizona

Eleven women skiing

Above a grey cloud

What A Day

What a day may bring-

Autumn majestic greetings

And summer's beauty

Apple tree

Idaho flinches

Picking at summer cherries

As a beetle crawls



Swagger has gotten older-

Than blue sea orca's


Delusional dreams

Consolidate dark rivers

Of obscurity

Black Mosquito

He courageously

Battles a black mosquito

In hot Florida


Sizzling hot flounder

At Kentucky barbeque

One july evening


A thousand voices

Reliving holocaust pain

At winter event

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