Haiku and Hatey Painty

I love:  haiku.

I’m no poet, but when we were studying haiku in high school, I had a lot of fun messing around with them.

A haiku is a three-line Japanese poem.  The first line is five syllables, the second seven, and the third five again.  Traditionally, a haiku is supposed to muse on nature and everyday things.  If it gets mouthy or clever, technically it becomes a senryu.

There are some famous ones, such as this one:

An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

Splash! Silence again.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) Seems like a mellow dude.

Image: Tashebe Soko / Wikimedia Commons

Here’s one by Jack Kerouac:

The low yellow
moon above the
Quiet lamplit house.

Note that haiku in American English doesn’t stick to the syllable count, which is stricter in the Japanese form. The idea of English-speaking writers was to be able to say the poem in one breath.  This one is quiet, and effectively conveys a familiar and strong image.  That is the essence of haiku, so it works.

Jack Kerouac, 1956. Even the beatniks looked square back then.

Image: Tom Palumbo / Wikimedia Commons

Haiku are tricky.  The writer only has a few words to convey a strong image or feeling, something that can be difficult for novelists.   Haiku makes a terrific writing exercise.   Why not try it?


I hate:  evil kitchen paint that looks lighter than it really is but actually isn’t that much different from the tired old paint you just painted over after you killed yourself moving all the appliances all alone and cut your finger on the back of your stupid 1950s Philco stove that nobody cleaned behind since before you bought your ugly little bungalow.

Guess what I did all day today?

I’m going to skip the hate today since I don’t really have one for H, and I’m whipped from the evil paint saga.  I think it will look better once I paint the cabinets white.

Try some haiku if you like.  If you’ve never written one before, I think you’ll be surprised and challenged.

2 thoughts on “Haiku and Hatey Painty

  1. I hated writing poetry in school. Never liked it or understood it that much. The one thing I did love was haiku. Haiku makes sense to me and I like it so i’m very glad it was in the “H poaste” :)

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