Favourite Haiku by Greg Piko

I am sorry to disappoint you, but these aren’t actually my Favourite Haiku. The truth is that I don’t have a set of Favourite Haiku, and when I did start searching around for my favourites I soon found that any list would be hopelessly incomplete. What I realised, though, was that I do have a number of favourite elements of haiku that underpin, for me, the charm and joy that these little poems provide. So I will share those elements with you, based on some lovely poems that happened to come to hand.

Nature

The practice of writing haiku encourages us to be more aware of our world and to take notice of nature in a more detailed way. The haiku is an excellent form for conveying this awareness of nature.

moonrise
a flow of shadows
along the river

– Dawn Bruce

a gust of wind –
and the waterbirds
become white

– Yosa Buson

Juxtaposition

Each haiku depends fundamentally on the juxtaposition, or association, of two images. The result can be particularly moving when an image from nature is set beside an image that depicts human behaviour.

pebbled beach
how carefully she chooses
her words

– Yu Chang

hotpools –
my breasts weightless
in your hands

– Joanna Preston

Brevity

I never cease to be amazed at how such a brief poem can have such depth. How many ways can you interpret this little five-word gem?

the puddle
my face
fills

– Graham Nunn

Humour

Everyone loves a laugh, and haiku can deliver humour seamlessly . . .

eye surgery
I sign my consent
on the bottom blur

– Karen Peterson Butterworth

Creativity

It’s always fun to break the rules, and showing creativity with the form of a haiku can sometimes be done to great effect. I love the way this poem can be read both backwards and forwards!

nor’wester
seagull
flying
backwards

– Nola Gazzard

Poetry

The sheer poetry of a good haiku can be beautiful to behold. The use of rhythm, alliteration, assonance and even rhyme (!) can produce wonderfully understated, yet poetic, results.

winter wind
a cradlesong sung
in an ancient tongue

– Billie Wilson

storm warning
the cry of a shearwater
circles the sky

– Ernest J Berry

autumn morning
clearing the misty window
to see the mist

– Jeanette Stace

And, yes, you may have noticed that a number of these haiku do appear in The Taste of Nashi (the Third New Zealand Haiku Anthology, Windrift, 2008), which is indeed one of my favourite haiku collections.

Editor’s note: Greg Piko is secretary of HaikuOz and lives in NSW near Canberra. He is the winner of the 2011 NZPS International Haiku Contest and the Jeanette Stace Memorial Prize. His Favourite Haiku poems were selected and submitted before the judge’s decision was announced.

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