April is National Poetry Month which means it’s also National Poetry Writing Month! I’ll be taking the plunge this year and writing a poem every day throughout April. I’ve decided to focus on haiku, since that seems like an achievable every day objective. I’ll share them all here as I go. What better way is there to start this blog off with a bang? Ideas are already percolating so it’s a good thing April is only two days away.
Traditional Japanese haiku are three lines and follow a 5-7-5 “on” (commonly translated as “syllable”) pattern. However, the difference in how sounds are counted in Japanese versus English makes a 5-7-5 syllable count in English not entirely accurate. The most important aspect when it comes to syllable count in haiku is that the poem can be said in one breath. 17 syllables can be a little bit long when going by this standard, so shorter is always acceptable.
Equally important in traditional haiku is the use of words that speak to a particular season. Using a seasonal word can evoke nostalgic images in the reader’s mind. It can give more substance to the haiku without the need for many words.
Another common theme in haiku is the juxtaposition of two ideas or images for the reader to reflect on and form relations between. Traditionally a kireji or cutting-word was used between ideas. In English this often translates to some kind of punctuation.
During my foray into haiku, (I am by no means an expert), I will try to keep these three elements in mind. I plan to make my way through the seasons starting with winter. I look forward to this challenge and to reading everyone else work this next month.