Haiku is a Japanese verse form most often composed, in English versions, of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables.
Traditional Japanese haiku (hokku) take seasons and nature as their themes. As Western poets began using the form, first with the Imagists like Ezra Pound and T.E. Hulme and later, Jack Kerouac the Western haiku began to change form from strict syllable counts, to more liberal standards. Jack Kerouac defined the Western version as, “Above all, a Haiku must be very simple and free of all poetic trickery and make a little picture and yet be as airy and graceful as a Vivaldi Pastorella.”
This short poem is an incredible form to become familiar with. They are so expressive and are flexible. Their short structure also allows for easy creation which is helpful if you ever experience writer’s block. Choose to stick to the more traditional 5, 7, 5 structure, or attempt to say a lot in a little space.
These example poems our from our article “Cat Haiku“
A child teaches the cat
The cat chewing the flower
Has its mind elsewhere
In the shimmering haze
The cat mumbled something
In its sleep
See also: Senryu