International Haiku Poetry Day 2021 is celebrated annually on April 17th, but what is a haiku?
Haiku poetry underwent a refinery in the 17th century that helped to push its popularity, as well as its association with zen meditation.
This ancient form of poetry however can be dated back to the 1st century in the “Heian Period of Japanese Culture” where it was a social requirement to be fluent in Chinese and Japanese poetry.
It then developed into a lighter form of poetry called “haikai”, which meant “vulgar” or “earthy”, and was powered by its use of satire and puns in the 16th century.
It was not until the 17th century when the famous Matsuo Bashō perfected the art form into a more serious form, or Haiku, and solidified it as a literary genre. Bashō portrayed ordinary people into his work, combining comic playfulness with a spiritual depth. This led to the birth of modern haiku and was solidified with another reform movement to be commonplace today.
From Matsuo Bashō to you! Anyone can write a haiku, and here are some tips to help you.
- A haiku most commonly follows the “5-7-5” structure: The first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, the third line is 5 syllables.
- Think about your topic: Themes of nature, and powerful images are traditionally focused on in a haiku, with a juxtaposition of the two images. Pay attention to small details around you such as birds, leaves, or even the wind and how they will make the reader feel. Add in one, or two senses in your poems such as sound or touch.
- Read your poem aloud: Hearing the poem flow will help you stick with the “5-7-5” form.
- Remember your cutting word: A “kierji”, or “cutting word” will create a break which if used in conjunction with punctuation will control the rhythm of the poem.
Haiku’s restrictive rules will push your brain’s problem-solving side encouraging you to be creative in your poetry, so have fun with your writing!