Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Curious Creative: Week 25

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

My Thoughts:

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:

old pond…
a frog leaps in
water’s sound

well! let’s go
snow-viewing till
we tumble!

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!

Your Turn!

I’ve provided below seasonal wordlists taken from Japanese haikus about spring. Your options for play are (in order of least to most challenging):

  1. 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!
  1. Create a found poem using only words found on this list.
  1. 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.

forgotten frost
hazy moon
hazy [moonlit] night
halo of the moon
mist / to mist
thin mist
evening mist
heat shimmer
wind is bright
east wind
fragrant wind/balmy wind
between snowfalls
leftover snow
melting snow
floating ice
water warms up
waters of spring
hills smile
burnt-over field
to plow
low tide
gather shells
tea [leaf] picking
closing the fireplace
cats in love
nest of mice
wild geese
returning geese
ten thousand birds
eagle’s nest
camellia blossoms
first cherry blossoms
cherries bloom
clouds of cherry blossoms
falling cherry blossoms
old tree’s flowers
grass sprouts
tree buds
asparagus sprouts

How did you do? Did using the language already chosen by master haiku poets take your writing into a new plane?

To encourage each other and grow a community of Curious Creatives, sign in from a google account so you can share your creation in the comment boxes below. Also, if you subscribe to this blog (submit your email address in the "Follow this Site by Email" box to the right), you will get an email update whenever a new exercise is added. Thanks for playing! 

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.


  1. The first English word my mother-in-law learned was "asparagus." Therefore, here's my 5-7-5 haiku for the "asparagus sprouts" phrase (the 2-3-2 was harder with this phrase, but I can always write another haiku).

    crowns of green, blue, brown
    breaking through the clumpy ground
    asparagus sprouts