How To Write a Haiku Poem

Haiku is a simple, sophisticated form of poetry that originated in Japan. Many people consider haiku to be one of the simplest forms to learn because of the short three-lines and controlled meter scheme but the simplicity is often misunderstood. If you want to learn to write a haiku poem, follow these instructions.

  1. Experience the beauty of haiku. This form of poetry is able to speak volumes in a few syllables. Haiku often speaks about nature and beauty. Start at your local library where you can read several samples to get the feel and experience of haiku.
  2. Begin with keywords. Haiku is a concise form of poetry and each word must have meaning. When you start to build your poem you should have three or four key words you want to use. Find these through freewriting by clearing your mind and writing the words and images that come to you.
  3. Know the form. When you have your words there are some basic rules for haiku that you must know. First the poem consists of only three lines. Second the poem does not have to rhyme but it does have a specific meter or rhythm. There should be five syllables in the first line, seven in the second line and five in the third line. This pattern means that even if you use simple, one syllable words you will only have seventeen total words to capture the sensation of your poem. More complex words with multiple syllables will greatly constrict your word choice options.
  4. Write a draft without counting syllables. Using the keywords you listed in step two, begin to write a draft of your haiku poem. For the first draft try to capture the mood, images and feelings of the poem. Don't count syllables or words at this point. Just put a draft of three simple statements onto paper. Do not try to capture multiple moods, focus on one thing or one theme for your poem.
  5. Edit with patience. Once you have a draft it is time to shape it into the haiku form. Count the syllables in each line of your draft. If you are like most poets, you have too many words on each line. This is a good thing. It is far easier to cut syllables than it is to add them at this point. When you edit you should cut and cut brutally. Remove the excess, the words that have no meaning which are usually the adjectives and adverbs that speak in generalities. In haiku you want to capture the beauty of a flower (or any other object) without using the words beauty, majestic or any other word that is descriptive but vague.
  6. Read your haiku aloud then continue to make changes. The beauty of haiku can be heard as well as read. During the final stages of the edits try reading the poetry aloud. Allow yourself to hear and feel the words and rhythm of your new haiku.

Writing haiku that speaks to readers requires both time and patience. If you want to write haiku poetry you should practice with an open mind and allow the words to come freely before your edit them into form.


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