Haiku (Renku) Poetry and How to Write It (Part 1)

haiku, smaurai, Misashi, poetry, writing, blogging, blogs        Haiku (Renku) Poetry, an ancient form of writing poetry from Japan, is very strict in its structure. One section of three lines. The first and  third lines must be five syllables. The second line must be seven syllables.  A reference to nature is usually found somewhere in the poetry. My Sumi-E ink and brushwork you see here is an ancient Japanese technique.  In Renku poetry You write three or more stanzas using the same 5-7-5 discipline.

Tip:  When I first write haiku I don’t worry so much about the structure on the first draft.  I get my thoughts down and then start editing words (syllables) until I have the correct structure  of   5-7-5.  This works best for me.

Tip: Over the centuries (and certainly in the US) Haiku has been reduced to one section of three lines.  In ancient Japan culture (11-12th centuries) a haiku had three sections of three lines.  I prefer to write in the ancient style but it is acceptable, by some, to write a complete poem in three lines.

The World of Haiku” a book of poetry is available here, plus a companion book, Journal for your Haiku compositions and other journaling.

REVIEW from The Midwest Book Review, February 2013

‘The World of Haiku is a striking collection of original poetry; each poem consists of three haiku verses. Bold, pen-and-ink artwork embellishes each brief poem. The World of Haiku embodies the spirit of encompassing timeless observations in a fleeting moment of verse, and is a delightful treasure for any who enjoy contemplative haiku poetry. “Summer Woods”©   a single leaf floats / deer creep along well worn paths / fish leap with delight // rings spread on the pond / katydids shout their presence / goslings paddle near // breezes stir the trees / the forest floor perfumes rise / a lone bird exults’
~~~Paul T. Vogel, Reviewer


Featured in her book, The World of Haiku
Featured in her book, The World of Haiku

Hope you enjoy these samples of  this ancient form…

Spring Birth ©  (Renku)

one twig, two twigs, three
soft down plucked from mother’s breast
the perfect bower

three tiny blue eggs
under warmth of mother’s love
they stir, they hatch new

three urgent beaks open wide
insistent, burning, they beg
speckled downy fuzz


  brush and ink by author/poet

Roar of Silence  © (Renku)

to live in the woods
listen to the sheer quiet
so weighty and loud

the morn silent, still
not a whisper of sound stirs
deafening stillness

weighing on the ear
silence roars loud in the brain
the bird’s shrill cry brays

and from two masters….Yukio Mishima and Miyamoto Musashi,  a 15th century Japanese swordsman and ronin (the term for what we now know as Samurai) became renowned through stories of his excellent swordsmanship in numerous duels, even from a very young age. He was the founder of the Niten-ryū style of swordsmanship and the author of The Book of Five Rings, a book on strategy, tactics, and philosophy that is still studied today. Miyamoto Musashi is widely considered one of the greatest warriors of all time. Samurai were expected to explore their artistic and philosophical side and most were known for their beautiful poetry.

The sheaths of swords rattle
As after years of endurance
Brave men set out
To tread upon the first frost of the year

A small night storm blows
Saying ‘falling is the essence of a flower’
Preceding those who hesitate
—Yukio Mishima

……and by Miyamoto Musashi  (Renku)

A crow has settled
on a bare branch
Autumn evening

On a withered branch,
A crow has stopped
Autumn’s eve

A lone crow
sits on a dead branch
this autumn eve

 (Note: translated, the poetry does not keep to the required structure. Japanese poets used ‘sound units’ rather than syllables.)

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