Haiku you do?

Get your haiku on...

The Japanese know how to appreciate the moment: tea ceremonies where the design and the feel of the cup is lauded, the colour of the drink discussed, the scent, the very feel of the beverage dissected and praised.

Not surprising, therefore, the land of the rising sun gave us the haiku. Haiku is a poetic form that, traditionally, aims to capture a moment in nature, like a snapshot with words.

Most typically achieved using seventeen syllables arranged in three unrhymed lines of five, seven and five syllables, the practice of writing haikus is particularly useful if you are engaged in a word-limited literary arena such as writing songs. In such instances, words should be chosen carefully so that they can convey the specific mood, meaning and impact you require and haikus can help you build up that muscle. Haikus encourage you to pick up every word and study it closely for its sound, meaning, feel and impact.

Here are some examples of the haiku:

O’er the wintry wood,

winds howl in an empty rage

with no leaves to blow.

Soseki (1275-1351)

My all time favourite, however, is the haiku by the ‘punk poet, John Cooper Clarke:


Writing a poem

In seventeen syllables

Is very diffic.

(John Cooper Clarke, 1979)


About suehealy

From Ireland, Sue Healy is Literary Manager at the Finborough Theatre, London, a full-time Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Lincoln. Her book on theatre literary management is published by Routledge, December 2022. Sue is an award-winning writer for stage, TV, and prose writer. TV Her current project, a 6x60minute TV series, is under option. She is under commission with Lone Wolf Media, producers behind PBS’ “Mercy Street”, to co-write the pilot and treatment for a six-part TV series. Stage Her most recent stage-play, Imaginationship (2018), enjoyed a sold out, extended run at the Finborough and later showed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. Her previous stage productions include Cow (Etcetera Theatre, 2017) and Brazen (King’s Head Theatre, 2016), funded by Arts Council England. Sue’s short plays have been performed at the Criterion (Criterion New Writing Showcase), Arcola (The Miniaturists) and Hackney Attic (Fizzy Sherbet Shorts). Radio Her radio work includes nine plays broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (Opening Lines winner), WLRfm and KCLR96fm. Prose Sue has won The Molly Keane Award, HISSAC Prize, Escalator Award, Meridian Prize and has been published in nine literary journals and anthologies including: The Moth, Flight, Tainted Innocence, New Writer, Duality, HISSAC, New European Writers. She has been writer-in-residence on Inis Oírr, Aran Islands, and at the Heinrich Boll Cottage on Achill Island. She has also benefitted from annual artist residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre, and at Ginestrelle, Assisi in Italy. An academic with a PhD in modern theatre history, specifically the Royal Court Theatre, Sue has presented her research internationally. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. She has a PhD in modern theatre history (Royal Court Theatre) and is a UEA Creative Writing MA alumnus. View all posts by suehealy

11 responses to “Haiku you do?

  • Tony McFadden

    There’s the joke one which ends in ‘refrigerator’ (actually, and first 5 and 7, followed by refrigerator works)

    But I thought I’d create an original one for this blog…

    NaN0riMo is
    writing fifty-kay words in
    a Masarati

  • JSD

    As I follow you, I’m realizing just how much I don’t know about writing. Thank you for all your great posts.

  • Polly Burns

    Love the John Cooper Clarke poem! Polly

  • Sandy Sue

    What a lovely gift to have you visit and subscribe to my site. I’m honored. So for your photo:

    Lonely arachnid
    Spins an invitation high
    Finds guests for dinner

  • Lindsay Waller-Wilkinson

    Thanks for taking the time to look at my blog and I’m over the moon that you’ve subscribed! I like what you’re doing here and have thus returned the favour, if it can be described as that? Look forward to reading more…

  • Babs M

    I love that last haiku! Thanks for coming by my blog. 🙂

  • liv2write2day

    Most enjoyable post…haiku is one of my favorite form. Also enjoyed your “About.”

  • Carla Fisher (@Saidandsung)

    Great post, Sue!

    I’ve always admired the haiku, and since you mentioned songwriting, the Sondheim musical PACIFIC OVERTURES is set in Japan and haiku is used throughout the script, and even in song. It’s a fantastic study of the economy (and beauty) of words.

    I actually consider tweets to be somewhat of modern-day haikus. While certainly the structure isn’t as strict as haiku (although not requiring rhyme is refreshing, isn’t it?), there is a character limit, as well as suggested syntax and nomenclature. It can be argued that Twitter is making those who use it more effective writers, because each character is so valuable that we simply have to stick to only the most important words to get our messages across. Every time I write a tweet, as I do a haiku, I’m reminded of the power of words.

  • evilnymphstuff

    Wow I’m just learning so much with your blog! 🙂 Haikus… nice nice! Thanks so much for coming by my blog!

  • Judy

    I’ve always loved Haikus (to read them!). I’m learning so much from your blog….thanks so much for your posts.

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