Archive for June, 2011


5 haiku poems

New Sun Rising: Book CoverIn March 2011, after Japan was rocked by a devastating earthquake out of the blue, thousands of charity organisations sprang into action to help raise some emergency relief funds. Many artists and writers across the world wanted to do their bit, too… and they achieved this by feverishly putting together various Japan-themed books and anthologies, all proceeds from which would go towards the massive aid effort.

One of these anthologies is called New Sun Rising, a book of original writing and artwork that celebrates the people and culture from The Land of the Rising Sun. It’s not available yet, but it soon will be: so keep one eye on their official blog, if you’re interested.

I submitted 5 haiku poems to the New Sun Rising project, but I didn’t make the final cut – so I thought I’d post them on here instead. These are the first haikus I’ve ever written and there’s quite an art to it. I spent a good few hours on the internet reading up on the subject and opinions are divided on what constitutes a formal haiku… but the general consensus seems to be thus:

  • A haiku sits on three lines, with a 5-7-5 syllable structure.
  • A haiku contains a ‘seasonal’ word (evocative of spring, summer, autumn or winter).
  • A haiku contains a ‘cutting’ word (a sudden shift in the line of thought).
  • A haiku avoids rhyme and metaphor.

But these rules are open to artistic licence. Here, for example, is a haiku written by Jack Kerouac that throws the syllable rule right out of the window:

Snow in my shoe 
Sparrow’s nest

Anyway, for my first crack at haiku poetry, I decided to stick to the classic guidelines and adopt the 17 syllables (5-7-5), the seasonal word and the cutting word. I avoided rhyme easily enough (vers libre is the way to go!) but I found it difficult to leave out the metaphor. For me, this is what gives poetry its extra lustre. Such a short, sharp nugget of language would lack any depth without a smidgen of subtext – wouldn’t it? But what do I know! Here are the first 5 haikus I’ve ever attempted…

Dim sky grey as slate
Stony trees stooped in twilight
Golden crab apples!


Jagged shards of sun
Scatter hot across my path
Behind me, shadows


Leaves everywhere
Children kick through them screaming
Silent birds migrate


Fresh cherry blossoms
Drift down like pink confetti
Beautiful in death


Dots of rainwater
Shiver in dirty puddles
The drains are singing