Monday, October 04, 2004


haiku exercise

seeds from a birch tree
by Clark Strand

* Write a haiku about something you can see or hear, something you can smell or touch on that very spot. Notice the sky above you, the temperature of the air on your face. Notice especially the things on the ground right below your feet.

* When you have written one haiku, immediately write another, without pausing to consider whether it is good or bad. And when you have finished that haiku, write yet another, and then another. And so on...

* Continue writing haiku like this until you have twenty or thirty poems. Don't get stuck writing about the same thing if it seems too difficult. Change subjects as often as you want.

Masaoka Shiki suggested this as an exercise for writing haiku, and many Japanese poets still write haiku this way today. Shiki felt that the subjects for haiku were all around us and that if you wrote only one or two haiku at a sitting, not only would you overlook many good subjects, but your chances of getting a good haiku were fairly slim. If you wrote twenty or thirty haiku on an outing, Shiki suggested, then at least one or two of them would be good - or, at the very least, worth keeping as a record of the day.

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