Thursday, December 4, 2014


You may know haiku as the very short Japanese verse consisting of three lines and 17 syllables. And that's basically it. It's something we teach children and English language learners because it gives them a sense of being in command of the language, it reviews vowel sounds, and syllables, it uses new parts of the brain, and it's just plain fun.

But there is more to it than that. In fact, doing good haiku is hard. That's why I keep doing it. I haven't done a good one yet.

The precursor to the garden-variety 5-7-5 pattern was called thanka (or waka) and it has a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. In a variation of that, one writer can write the 5-7-5 thanka opening, and someone else can write the last two lines. It's a poetic word game for two.

It reminds me of what Jane Hirshfield said in her Kindle Single, The Heart of Haiku:
To read a haiku is to become its co-author, to place yourself inside its words until they reveal one of the proteus-shapes of your own life.
Of course, such an exercise is different for everyone.

See if you can add anything to this haiku:

in mad defiance
i will light the light again
always believing


  1. in mad defiance
    i will light the light again
    always believing
    that this time it will not be
    blown out by the winds of hate

    You're good at this.
    May your lights shine bright!