Writing a Haiku

Why we chose to do this

Kali and I are working on improving our writing skills. We have many distractions which have limited our time on this. With that in mind, I thought of a small challenge that could be achieved in a short space of time. So I hit on the idea of writing a ‘haiku’, a very short Japanese poetic form. There are structural rules, but they are not as rigid as a sonnet and therefore should be easier.

So, what is a Haiku?


The Haiku poetic form is a short unrhymed poem of only 3 lines and 17 syllables and has become popular in many languages. The name originated in Japan in the 1800s but is much older, coming from “hokku”, part of a “renga”, a lengthy collaborative poem with multi-authors. The poet Masaoka Shiki (1866-1902 ) popularised the term ‘haiku’ and regenerated interest in it as a standalone poetic form.

There is no way you can translate a Japanese haiku accurately into English while keeping all the nuances of the original. This is because syllable and grammatical structures are very different. This is a common issue in translating poetry from one language to another.


The most commonly used structure for a haiku in English is this –

Line 1 – 5 syllables
Line 2 – 7 syllables
Line 3 – 5 syllables


Traditionally, Japanese haikus have common themes. Their subject is usually about nature, with seasonal change a common element. In addition, they may focus on a single moment in time and use image juxtaposing. But modern haiku often deviate from these rules to experiment with new formats and subject matter.

My first haiku

How I prepared to write it

My haiku is based on a personal ‘in-the-moment’ experience walking around Swinsty Reservoir (North Yorkshire, UK) on a cool winter’s day. Unusual beautiful ice crystals had formed on sapling stems on the shallow edges of the flooded lake. With no wind, the water was like a mirror and then tiny snowflakes fell.

I played around with lots of words that could connect with this experience and swapped them around to fit the 5-7-5 syllable structure.


Haiku – Wikipedia
Masaoka Shiki – Wikipedia
How to Write a Haiku, With Examples – Grammarly

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