winter morning
walking to school we see
our words

a sudden accumulation
at the window

winter storm warning:
ninety percent chance
of freedom!

I’ve been drawn to haiku again this week. It’s like standing by the door frame in the kitchen to be measured. Maybe if I go back to the same place, I’ll be able to see how much I’ve grown. This time I’ve been thinking about the challenge of writing haiku that are both surprising and meaningful. Sometimes I come up with interesting images and words, but even I’m not sure what they add up to. Other times, the meaning is too clear and too familiar. The trick is to set up fresh images that give the reader an experience of unfolding understanding. And, as always, there’s the question of audience: will these images, these words, these meanings speak to kids?

For more Poetry Friday go to Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference.

(c) 2013 Elizabeth Ehrenfest Steinglass, all rights reserved

12 replies
  1. Author Amok
    Author Amok says:

    Hi, Liz. Your phrase “unfolding understanding” encapsulates what makes haiku fresh. I think “winter storm warning” has big kid appeal (my kids had a 2 hour delay yesterday). My favorite of these is “winter morning.” “We see our words” — perfect.

  2. Tabatha
    Tabatha says:

    Kids could definitely relate to your haiku! Probably the third one especially 🙂 I think the first one is my favorite, though. Also, this: “It’s like standing by the door frame in the kitchen to be measured. Maybe if I go back to the same place, I’ll be able to see how much I’ve grown.”

  3. Robyn Hood Black
    Robyn Hood Black says:

    Oh, Liz – what wonderful layers you’ve tucked into these! I love the surprise of the first one, and its beautiful image, and the spot-on “works two ways” of the second one. (My son, 17, would add a YES for the third, as school has been called off here today in the anticipation of ice.)

    Thanks for sharing these finely crafted haiku, my friend. Perfect way to start the day.

  4. Linda at teacherdance
    Linda at teacherdance says:

    To choose just the right words for haiku must be so challenging, Liz. I am in awe of your choices. The word ‘sudden’ shows such a step of anticipation for more snow! I know that my middle school students in my past would have loved these.

  5. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    No question that these images, words, and meanings speak to kids, Liz! (And we adults who still think like kids 🙂 I’m glad you were drawn back to haiku this week – delightful poems. Well done! =)

  6. Katya
    Katya says:

    I love the third one — 90% chance of freedom. That’s such a great line. Snow days are so magical when you’re a kid – snowmen and forts and sledding and snowball fights.

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