hang from branches
I’ve been studying haiku again. Every time I go back to them, I see more. Those three lines seem infinitely deep. I’ve been reading haiku written for kids and haiku written for adults, and I’m noticing some differences. (These are, of course, broad generalizations.)
Haiku for kids tend to be written in three lines and 17 syllables–5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third. They often seem to be a single sentence about a single topic broken into three parts. The third line tends to be a shift in focus on the main topic, for example, a flamingo whose only competition is her reflection (in a haiku by Jane Yolen), or a chicken scratching dirt and making little tornadoes of dust (in a haiku by Christine O’Connell George). (Both of these haiku are in the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry.)
Haiku for adults are often shorter than 17 syllables and sometimes two or four lines. The moment of realization in a haiku for adults seems to occur in the space between two contrasting images, for example faces in a train and petals on a branch (in the well-known haiku by Ezra Pound
). Most haiku for adults do not use capital letters or punctuation. If they are punctuated, it is generally with a dash, ellipsis, or comma.
This week I’ve tried to write an adult form of haiku with kid-friendly images.
(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved