What is a haiku? A haiku is a traditional form of Japanese poetry that has enjoyed some popularity recently. I became interested in haikus when I saw them shared as tweets in the early days of Twitter.
The classical haiku dates from seventeenth century Japan. Early Japanese poets expressed a view of nature and the changing seasons in a brief 5-7-5 syllable format that could be carved into stone. That is very different to the short-lived tweets of the 21st century!
Haiku poets therefore chose their words with great care, to express the fullest of meaning. Often the haiku describes personal feelings and a brief moment of enlightenment. It is written as three graceful phrases that lead to an ending, and maybe a surprise in the third line.
Here’s a well-known example, one of my favourites, “A poppy blooms”, by Katsushika Hokusai. It’s about the creative writing process.
I write, erase, rewrite
Erase again, and then
A poppy blooms
Unlike western poetry there is no need for the haiku lines to rhyme, but the words would have a pleasant rhythm in the native Japanese. Creating a haiku reminds me of business copywriting in the sense that both depend entirely on the clarity and meaning of the language. Both need to flow and share the message in the most concise way.
Here’s my own haiku for the UK August bank holiday 2022:
Heat burned hedgerows brown
Soft rain brings healing fingers
Fruits and flowers sweet
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