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Autumn Haiku for Kids

red apples
hang from branches
I jump

bare branches—
a pencil
after markers

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.


For more Poetry Friday visit Anastasia Suen’s Booktalking.

(c) 2012 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

10 replies
  1. Author Amok
    Author Amok says:

    I sat and thought about the second haiku for a long while, Liz. What a beautiful and visual metaphor! I grew up with an artistic, tree-painting mother, so your poem spoke to me.

  2. Liz Steinglass
    Liz Steinglass says:

    Anastasia and Matt, thanks for visiting and commenting.

    Bridget, I really missed autumn when we lived in Hong Kong. I love watching the seasons pass.

    Laura, thanks for visiting and taking time and commenting. And for following. It must have been hard to be away as Sandy approached but I’m still jealous of your retreat.

    Happy Poetry Friday!


  3. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    I love the beauty of those bare branches. It reminds me of the John Updike poem about November I read with my students; it talked about the “beauty of the bone.”

  4. Liz Steinglass
    Liz Steinglass says:

    I can’t tell you how many drafts and revisions I need to get to that level of simplicity. One week I want to put up drafts to give a sense of the process and evolution.
    Happy holidays,

    I’ll have to look for the Updike poem on poets.org. Do your students connecting to it? I’m thinking November where you are has a different feeling.

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