Oshadha Perera is the judge for the Haiku Junior category in our 2023 International Poetry Competition. Oshadha is a short story writer and poet from Southland and has won numerous writing competitions. So, what does Oshadha look for in a haiku? Read on!!


I think the most important things in a haiku are originality and memorability. I love it when I read a haiku and find that the image is still in my mind for the next few days. Being concise and using concrete images are two very important steps towards writing a good haiku – you would often find haiku that are too wordy or descriptive or have too many abstract words don’t have a lasting impact. Paying attention to detail and using a couple of your five senses will also improve your haiku, and you would often see haiku convey emotions and feelings through one or two simple, detailed images; I would often try to capture a single a moment in time when writing haiku. 

Other techniques you could explore to make your haiku better include using pivot lines and juxtaposition. Haiku doesn’t need to have a specific syllable count; having an original image or idea is much more important. Again, you wouldn’t be able to include all those things into one small haiku, so choose quality over quantity; keep your haiku simple and memorable.

That said, the most important thing is to have fun looking for inspiration and crafting your haiku!

outdoor shower

a shiver in

the cricket’s song

            – Terri L. French

What I particularly like about this haiku is the image it draws in my mind; I found it to be quite original and it stayed me after I finished reading it. The first line is a broader line that sets the setting and tone of the haiku, and then the second and third lines paint a more detailed and focused image. This is a good example of using concise and concrete language, and also using sensory details. For example, hearing a cricket shiver is much more effective than just saying it feels cold.

tangerine sunset
a small boy gallops
his stick-pony home

            – Ron C. Moss

The first line ‘tangerine sunset’ sets the scene – a vivid sunset scenery. This is followed by the image of a boy playing with his stick-pony, and this simple image is enough to pack a lot of feelings – freedom, playfulness, etc. This haiku is also a good example of juxtaposition, which means using two unrelated images to create a more meaningful haiku – in this instance, the sunset and the boy. How someone interprets a haiku, of course, differs from person to person, and to me, the juxtaposition of the boy riding into the sunset suggested growing up and time passing by without you knowing.

beneath the blossoms
she counts her years
on one hand

            – Sasha A. Palmer

In addition to the beautiful imagery used in this poem, the poet has also used a pivot line – the haiku can be read with lines 1 & 2 as “beneath the blossoms / she counts her years” or with lines 2 & 3 as “she counts her years / on one hand.” Both of those combinations contribute to making a full and resonating haiku. Again, I feel haiku is open to interpretation based on the reader, and for me, this haiku painted the picture of a young girl, juxtaposed with the delicate and young allusion of cherry blossoms. To another reader, this could make them think of an elderly person, thinking about her younger ages and the short time she has got left.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Competitions & Submissions, Judges