Express Your Creativity with a Haiku Poetry Practice
Some say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” As a life-long photographer, I used to agree with that until I discovered the joy of writing haiku poetry. The three lines of poetic verse in a traditional Japanese haiku can have a powerful impact on both the author while writing and the reader as they read.
Once upon a time, I had a preconceived notion that I couldn’t write haiku. I resisted the idea of having to follow the syllable count rules of 5/7/5 (see links below for “how to” information.) It seemed too restrictive. Then I met friends who encouraged me to give it a try and yet, I still hesitated. I didn’t dare until the evening of May 29, 2020 when a switch was flipped. Something happened to me that night. The cause may have been juxtaposed events of (1) fearfully arriving home with a husband fresh out of surgery to find helicopters circling, the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota under curfew because of riots and, (2) a stranger leaving a bouquet of flowers on my doorstep.
While my husband was recovering in the guest room an inner voice compelled me to photograph the bouquet of flowers, which wasn’t all that unusual. But the surprise was the poem that burst forth without any preconceived intention.
reaching for kindness
love, peace and understanding
instead of sorrow
That poem was to become my first haiku (three lines, seventeen syllables.) My first experience at how haiku poems can literally burst out of you when you give yourself permission to write them.
In the beginning, I was very timid and wrote sporadically until I dared myself to write every day, which I do now, sometimes 4 – 5 per day.
Researching haiku online led me to discover and join groups of international haiku poets who are sharing poems about their lives in lockdown and other personal stories. They encourage me to continue to study and practice haiku on a daily basis.
My writing practice and the poets that I’ve met through haiku have literally saved my soul during this stressful year. I felt so empty, joyless, and even frightened in south Minneapolis beforehand. I cannot imagine how I would have survived without the poems and my newfound poetry friends.
Since early June 2020, my haiku writing practice has started early in the day, when the birds start to sing between 5:00 – 6:00 a.m. or even earlier. As haiku is traditionally centered around being mindful of our five senses in nature, I ask myself, “What do I see, smell, feel, hear and touch?” I perk up my ears to hear what is happening in the garden outside my window and focus my eyes on how the sunrise is inspiring me. Then I write …
safe in the bedroom
personal retreat moment
creative thoughts stir
On cold mornings I have the blankets over me from head to toe creating a warm, quiet, retreat space next to my husband as I’m writing poems on my iPhone Notes app. but without disturbing him.
covers ’til fondest verses
rise to the surface
Starting in the morning keeps me open to haiku writing the rest of the day. Since my iPhone with the Notes app. is always close at hand I can compose anytime. Fortunately, I can also use this phone technology to create a photograph that compliments the poem or, maybe the photograph inspired a poem. Currently, I’m at the final stages of (daring to) produce my first book with both haiku poems and photographs, which I’ll be sharing with you later.
If there are gifts for me during this lockdown, it’s the gifts of discovering written self-expression through haiku and the community of poets I have met as a result. It’s been life-changing and life-saving!
no longer empty
full of creative daring
Write and share a haiku about the seasons
Joy and Kelly asked me to share my haiku journey with you and dare you to share your poem(s) too. To bring us together on a similar theme, I invite you to be inspired to write haiku poems on this prompt.
Write about the seasons, how they change, anticipate spring, seasonal change in the garden, etc., however you wish to creatively interpret it.
Look for more prompts and “how-to” suggestions in the future.
I will never claim to be a haiku expert so feel free to research it online or simply go to one of these links:
- The Haiku Foundation
- The Journal of the Haiku Society of America
- Haiku of Kobayashi Issa
- MasterClass: Billy Collins Teaches Reading and Writing Poetry
- Anne Dunnett, Everyday Haiku (Disclosure: In June 2020 I participated in one of Anne’s online workshops. It was very fun, creative, and educational.)
Athena Village Member