The Natural World as Perceived Around Us

by Jane Reichhold


A haiku is a short poem consisting of 17 or less syllables in two grammatical parts, a phrase and a sentence fragment, in which the author invites the reader to share an experience of the natural world. A haiku can be written in three lines or one. Because it is not a sentence it needs no capital letters or punctuation. Traditionally haiku avoid violent or disturbing images but concentrate on relating things of the world as perceived around us. These images are either contrasted, compared or combined to give a new thought experience.

hollow yes

the doll fills a hole

in the heart

Though haiku is the shortest poetry form it has gathered the most rules and guidelines  that are endlessly fascinating to study and adopt or abandon. One of these is the idea that a haiku must relate to a season by using a determined word to indicate it.

weak spring sun

undecided whether

to stay or go

There is a difference between a Japanese haiku and what people using other languages are now writing so we English writers often cannot adopt others’ rules. We have to find our own since most of us cannot write in Japanese. This too is endlessly fascinating but involves reading many haiku and deciding what we like and what we wish to do with the form.

more smiles

the new baby brings them

with him

The above haiku exhibit the basic principles that I follow with my own haiku. 

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Jane ReichholdBio: I’ve been writing haiku since the 1960s and have published over 40 books of haiku, renga, and tanka. I have translated 7 books from the Japanese with the best seller being Basho The Complete Haiku. Writing and Enjoying Haiku, also published by Kodansha, along with A Dictionary of Haiku, by AHA Books, are still often on Amazon’s best-seller list. The latest tanka book, was translated with Machiko Kobayashi from Akiko Yosano’s most famous book, Midaregami – Tangled Hair. was started in 1995 and  AHAforum is the place poets meet online since 2006.