How Do You Haiku? #4 Kuhi (Poem stone)

UPDATE 8.19.23: DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND, THIS HOW DO YOU HAIKU BLOG SERIES IS NOW A BOOK! AVAILABLE SEPT 1, 2023. 🙂

This is the fourth installment of our seven-post series on Haiku! Last week we wrote Haibun where we combined a story with haiku! Today, the way to help us find inspiration really rocks!

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 fourth way to write and share haiku.

#4: Kuhi (poem stone)

Carving a poem on a stone is an old tradition. These stones are called kuhi and are placed in gardens, parks and temples. There are Japanese gardens all over the world to visit, many of them with kuhi. This list by Narcity of gardens in the U.S. is a nice start.

my turn

I took the liberty of writing a few of my favorite haiku by Japanese poets, Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson on my stones, which I’ll place in my front garden to greet visitors. I’ve completely painted two rocks and “frosted” the other to give me a smooth, bright surface to write upon.

YOUR TURN

This is a great writing activity for the whole family! Grab the kids and take a walk outside to find a smooth flat stone then try your hand at Kuhi! You can paint the rocks and add doodles or drawings if you’d like. Anything goes! Just have fun. Be sure to spray couple of coats of clear sealing varnish when you are finished to protect your work from the outside elements.

Sharing your story

Create kuhi for your garden, for a friend’s garden, or leave one in a public park for someone to discover.

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Next week

Don’t miss next week when we continue with the fifth installment in our How Do You Haiku?© series of posts.

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