How Do You Haiku? #1 Take a Ginko Walk


Haiku is the most popular form of poetry today, but did you know there are different ways to write and present haiku? Today, I’m starting a seven-post series I’m calling, How Do You Haiku?©. Each time I will introduce a fun way to create and present your haiku and, at the same time, give my haiku journal a little love and attention.

first things first: what is haiku

old pond—
frog jumps in
sound of the water

This short poem is a haiku. It is Japanese poet Matsuo Basho’s famous poem from the 1600s. These three lines tell us something about nature (and season) and capture a moment in time. When you capture a scene in this way, it’s called a “haiku moment” —it’s like a snapshot or a sketch, but with words.

Some people like to write their haiku in a strict 17-syllable count (five syllables for the first and third lines and seven syllables for the second line). Others want the freedom of writing three short lines without counting syllables (modern vs. Japanese forms). The main thing to remember is your poem should be easy to say and read in one breath. Read here if you want more instruction on writing haiku (season words, form, tips, and how to count syllables).

Now, onto the first way to find a haiku moment….

#1: takE a ginko walk

A ginko is a special walk in nature when you write about what you see. Grab your notebook or your silenced mobile phone (you can use the notes feature or send yourself an email) and head outside. What do you see? Stop and observe. Sit down and contemplate. Maybe you are in the park when it starts to rain:

sudden shower
in the empty park
swing still swinging
©Margaret Chula (1946 -)

Or maybe you see a butterfly:
above broken bricks
a butterfly
hangs out in the slums
©Kaneko Tota (1919 - 2018)

my turn

I headed out for a walk to the local lake with my notebook and came away with a few haiku to share. I appreciated the opportunity to take a break in my day, to write, relax, and reflect. I prefer writing haiku in the strict 17-syllable count:

across nature trail
shafts of dappled sunlight sketch
a hopscotch for squirrels
©Danna Smith
on shimmering lake
parallel buoys bobbing
a fish jumps—touchdown!
©Danna Smith

Sometimes it’s fun to try your ideas in different ways. Here’s another attempt at the lake snapshot:

on shimmering lake
fish jumps between tall buoys,
makes winning touchdown
©Danna Smith


I hope you’ll embrace this challenge and take a ginko walk. Open your eyes and your hearts and see the world with “haiku eyes.” Afterward, please share your haiku in the comments below. I know it can be scary to share your poetry. Here’s a pep talk if you feel “iffy” about it. If you’d rather post your poems or comments anonymously, I’ve created settings to allow you to do so. Just reply without signing into your WordPress account.


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Next week

Don’t miss next week when we continue with the How Do You Haiku?© series of posts, where I will introduce you to another way to “haiku!” Hint: It’s both a visual and auditory treat!

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