Saturday, February 15, 2014

How To Write A Haiku

Post by co-founder Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley

     So, haiku. To start, I will tell you what a haiku is, and where they came from. Haiku are an ancient Japanese poem, and you can probably find a good few of them on the internet written by actual Samurai. Unlike many other poem types, haiku have no set rhyme scheme. In fact, they rarely rhyme at all. To be a haiku, it must have three lines, the first with five syllables, the second with seven, and the last with five again. While there are many beautiful haiku that I could use as examples, I’ll instead have to use mine, so as to avoid any copyright issues.


A ray of the sun
Reflected off the bright floor
And dazzled my eyes

     As you can see, haiku are very short, and the last line having fewer syllables than the previous one gives it a sense of trailing off. Because of these two things, it is often tempting to make a silly haiku, but I would recommend against it. While, as with all writing types, you can make anything your own in poetry, haiku came from a noble people, and were used to express small beauties. While you could say that mine hardly expresses a beauty, I found something profound about having my eyes stabbed with light. This shows that it doesn’t need to be something commonly seen as a beauty, but something that the poet finds beautiful, profound, or thought-provoking.
     Now let’s analyze my poem a little for the syllables.

(A) (ray) (of) (the) (sun)

     This line is simple; each word is one syllable.

(Re)(flect)(ed) (off) (the) (bright) (floor)

     This one has seven syllables, yet the same number of words because “reflected” is a three syllable word.

(And) (daz)(zled) (my) (eyes)

     Here I return to five. I have found that this last line tends to be a strange type of conclusion, but it usually does conclude. An example (which I can’t show here in full, for the reason I said earlier)would be one that in its last line revealed the “flower” that was flying as a butterfly.
     To find the number of syllables in each line, it really does work to clap your hands. If you are in a place where that would cause strange looks, or you’d just rather something easier, you can usually find an internet program to do it for you. If you look up “Flesch-Kincaid grade level finder” you’ll probably find a few things that ask you to input your text, and then they tell you the grade level. But the cool thing (and what matters to you at the moment) is that some of them will tell you the number of syllables in your text. Once you’ve found on of these, just copy and paste the lines individually, and now you know if you have a haiku!

     That you everyone for reading, I hope I've been helpful, and may your haiku turn out as great as those of the Samurai!

Miss TenBrink Kelley is the co-founder of this blog and an aspiring author and poet. For more of her poetry, see her mostly-abandoned blog here.

We currently have one on-going contest. It is an art contest, and the winner's entry will replace the banner at the top! See details here.


  1. The grey morning fog
    Rakes it's fingers on the ground
    Trying to hold on

    Did I get it right?

    1. That sounds great, Fury! You've got the syllables right, and I like the feeling. (Plus, bonus points for using the "right" spelling of grey. ;D)

  2. That is wonderful! As Catsi said, you have the right number of syllables, and it is a perfect haiku is about every other way too. I love the images you make. It's beautiful!

    1. thanks! glad you guys like it!

  3. Sharp thump, victory!
    Shaft gleaming, fletching quivers
    Right on the bull's eye.

    Made that one up in my head at archery practice the other day. It's not very good, but I was very pleased with my shot. :D

    1. You've got the right number of syllables, nice job! I would have to admit that I prefer writefury's haiku, but yours is still very nice. I like how it captures a moment in time.