What makes a good haiku? Marco Fraticelli, our 2021 judge for the Haiku Junior category of our international competition, has some good advice. Read on, especially if you are entering this year’s competition.
So You Want to Write a Haiku
1. A haiku is not a sentence. It doesn’t need to begin with a capital letter or end with a period.
2. A haiku does not need a title nor does it need to rhyme.
3. A haiku does not need to be exactly 17 syllables, but it does need to be short. Keep it to three lines or less. Don’t waste words. Don’t use any unnecessary adjectives or adverbs.
4. Keep your haiku concrete. Don’t write about abstract ideas like ‘truth’ or ‘poverty’. Write about what you can see right in front of you. Think of a haiku as photographs created with words. I should be able to see your haiku as I read it.
5. Write in the present tense. What is happening right NOW. A famous haiku poet once said that a haiku is what’s happening in this place and at this time. Look around and record what you see. Even if you are using a memory, write it as if it is happening right now.
6. If possible, have your haiku set in a particular season. Don’t mention the season by name but use a season word instead. If your haiku has the word ‘snow’, we know it’s winter. If you are writing about tulips, you don’t need to say that it’s spring.
7. The images for your haiku are everywhere. You just have to write them down. Use your 5 senses, not just your eyes to discover a haiku moment.
8. Show don’t tell. Describe your moment and let me discover for myself how it felt.