The Language of Spring Haikus
This is the twenty-fifth installment of The Curious Creative, weekly 10-minute writing exercises for busy individuals interested in exploring their creativity. For the complete rationale, click here.
Haikus are very short poems in which writers, instead of using the language of emotions, use the language of objects to tell you how they feel. The aim is that if they share with you the event that gave them the feeling, you might feel similarly. Therefore, it’s the poet’s job to get to the bottom of the essential nature of the thing written about. To do this, the language used is simple yet descriptive. Here are some examples written by Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), one of the great founders/masters of haiku:
a frog leaps in
well! let’s go
In this week’s exercise, I will provide you with a list of words taken from Japanese haikus written about spring. You will use this simple yet descriptive language as a jump-off point for your own writing. Whether or not you want to challenge yourself to write a haiku is up to you!
I’ve provided below seasonal wordlists taken from Japanese haikus about spring. Your options for play are (in order of least to most challenging):
- Choose one of the words/phrases as a jump-off point for a freewrite. Begin with a sentence that includes the word/phrase and see where it takes you!
- Create a found poem using only words found on this list.
- Write a haiku using one or several of these words/phrases. What are the basic rules of a haiku?
· 7 accented syllabus, plus unaccented syllables up to a total of about 12
· 3-line structure of 2, 3, and 2 accented syllables
· grammar should be stripped to a minimum that seems reasonably natural; complete sentences may or may not occur; use articles (a, an, the) and prepositions (to, of, for, etc.) sparingly.
hazy [moonlit] night
halo of the moon
mist / to mist
wind is bright
fragrant wind/balmy wind
water warms up
waters of spring
tea [leaf] picking
closing the fireplace
cats in love
nest of mice
ten thousand birds
first cherry blossoms
clouds of cherry blossoms
falling cherry blossoms
old tree’s flowers
How did you do? Did using the language already chosen by master haiku poets take your writing into a new plane?
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Inspired by: Higginson, William J. with Penny Harter. The Haiku Handbook: How to Write, Share, and Teach Haiku. Kodansha International, 1985, p. 105-106, 267-271.