View Full Version : How to Haiku 3: writing haiku

04-03-2019, 12:29 PM
You Zen folk have a head start on this! Haiku often take images from nature and compare them to Buddhist concepts of impermanence and other notions. This is the case in Basho’s poem which reflects both the futility of war and the fact that once proud warriors grow old even if they do not fall in battle.

There is an importance of observing tiny details in nature and life and combining what is happening to trees, plants and animals with what is going on in your own life. The reflection of inner and outer worlds is often what gives a haiku its power and poignancy.

So, please, give it a try and write a few poems. Spend some time in silence, preferably in nature, if only your garden, and see what images come up. Note them down and see if they suggest a verse. You can also write from imagination but direct experience in the moment is great and fits with our Zen practice.
I will try and comment on as many as I can. My one rule is NO 5-7-5. This is to get away from syllable counting.

Here are a few more examples to give you an idea of what we are aiming at. The fragment and phrase should be clear in each:

begging bowl
a crack in the pavement
grows dandelions
-- Kokuu

snow melt
the village overflows
with children
-- Kobayashi Issa

summer’s end
the numbness
-- Helen Buckingham

my hut in spring
there is nothing in it
there is everything
-- Sodō

Bermuda triangle the mystery in your touch
-- Tim Gardiner

mountain pheasant
treading on its tail
spring’s setting sun
-- Yosa Buson

These are some of my other favourite poems from modern and traditional writers: https://yearinhaiku.wordpress.com/favourite-haiku/

Suggested reading
Haiku techniques (https://www.ahapoetry.com/haiartjr.htm)
Fragment and phrase theory (https://www.ahapoetry.com/h_t_fragment.html)
Zen and the Art of Haiku (http://www.kenjoneszen.com/haiku-as-buddhist-practice/zen_and_the_art_of_haiku)
Writing and Enjoying Haiku (book (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/211515.Writing_and_Enjoying_Haiku))
A Zen Wave by Robert Aitken (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/162476.A_Zen_Wave) (Rinzai Buddhist teacher Robert Aitken, who wrote The Mind of Clover that we use in precept study, looks at the haiku poetry of Matsuo Basho from a Zen perspective)

You can find more books (https://yearinhaiku.wordpress.com/books-and-weblinks/)and articles (http://www.kenjoneszen.com/haiku-as-buddhist-practice/zen_and_the_art_of_haiku) on my haiku website.

04-03-2019, 11:48 PM
Thank you Kokuu!! Wonderful teachings that make it sound doable. I'm looking forward to practicing and reading everyone else's efforts here.


04-04-2019, 01:38 AM