What Is It? Haiku
by Tracey Allen - June 11th, 2014
Launch of new series: What Is It?
I’d like to introduce a new series of posts I’m going to be writing called: What Is It? I’ll be exploring topics related to the world of books and reading as well as taking suggestions from you.
What Is It? Haiku
To kick things off, I’ve decided the first topic in this new series is going to be haiku. Haiku is a mystery to many devotees of the written word – myself included – so, I’ve gone out into the world to learn more about the mysteriously clever art of haiku and share my findings with you.
At a glance:
- Haiku is a word for a specific type of poem and is originally from Japan
- A haiku (poem) contains a specific number of syllables (like a limerick contains a defined number of lines)
- A haiku contains a total of 17 syllables divided into 3 lines
- The first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7, and the third and final line contains 5 syllables
- A haiku doesn’t have to rhyme and most of the time they don’t
- Popular haiku subjects include elements from nature (seasons, animals, plants)
Now that you know a little bit more about what a haiku is, the next step is probably reading some existing work. A good place to start is by reading Haiku – The Sacred Art: A Spiritual Practice in Three Lines by Margaret D. McGee (pictured above).
Another book to consider is Haiku Mind – 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness and Open Your Heart by Patricia Donegan. It’s a collection of haiku poems with themes such as honesty, transience and compassion and has a wonderful calming cover just begging the reader to dive in.
If you’ve been inspired by reading some haiku by other authors and feel ready to try your hand at writing one yourself, then Writing and Enjoying Haiku: a Hands-On Guide by Jane Reichhold seems like a good a place as any to start. You’ll read how haiku can bring a: “centered, calming atmosphere into one’s life, by focusing on the outer realities of life instead of the naggings of the inner mind.” Sounds perfect doesn’t it?
There’s a fantastic sub culture of haiku for nerds, and this one looks like a great collection: Nerd Haiku by author Robb Pearlman. It contains 200 poems that speak to “core elements of the nerd universe: science fiction, fantasy, comic books, super heroes, big-budget movies, role-playing games, technology, TV series, animation, cosplay, and video games.”
Let me know if you already enjoy haiku, or if you’re delving into this subject matter for the first time. Have you written a haiku about your love of books? If so, we’d love to read it. Here’s my attempt, although with much help:
Boomerang Books blog
Prose and opinion combine
Best explored with friends
Hopefully this new series will cover some interesting topics and inspire you to explore new areas in literature. Suggestions are very welcome, so please comment below and tell us what you’d like to know more about in the great world of books.