SUGGESTIONS FOR CREATING HAIKU POETRY IN ENGLISHBy James W. Hackett
1. NOW is the touchstone of the haiku experience, so remain centered in this eternal present of life.
2. Remember that Greater Nature — not human nature — is the province of haiku.
3. Contemplate natural objects closely: unseen wonders (and dramas) will reveal themselves.
4. Carry a notebook to jot down subtle haiku moments, for these intuitive experiences may be easily forgotten.
5. Spiritually interpenetrate and empathize with nature. Become One with ‘things,’ for ultimately, “That art Thou.”
6. Reflect upon your notes of nature in solitude and silence. Allow these recollected feelings be the basis of your haiku poem.
7. Write about Nature just as it is. Haiku are neither word games nor puzzles. Basho brought haiku poetry back to life and nature; let us emulate his noble mission.
8. Choose every word very carefully. Use words that best suggest the moment of haiku experience you wish to share.
9. Use verbs in present tense, and singular subjects whenever possible.
10. To add aesthetic dimension, choose modifying words that vivify, including those that suggest the season, location, or time of day.
11. A haiku poem can be more than a verbal snapshot. Avoid such “So what?” haiku by suggesting your emotional reaction during the haiku moment
12. Use common language in a syntax natural to English! Don’t attempt ‘minimalistic’ copies of Japanese usage. Haiku composed in English must seem ‘natural’ and uncontrived.
13. Write in three lines using approximately 17 syllables. (Forego the traditional Japanese line arrangement of 5-7-5 syllables, as this practice can invite contrivance in English.)
14. Read each verse aloud to make sure it sounds natural. (Avoid end rhyme.) Make use of articles and punctuation common to English.
15. Remember that lifefulness, not beauty, is the essence of haiku.
16. Never use obscure allusions: true haiku are intuitive and direct, not abstract, symbolic, or intellectual. Include humor, but omit mere wit.
17. Avoid poeticism. The haiku poem should be direct, sensuous, and metaphysically ‘real.’
18. Work on each poem until it suggests exactly what you want others to see and feel. Remain true to your initial experience and the feelings elicited.
19. Remember that haiku is ‘a finger pointing at the moon,’ and if the hand is bejeweled, we no longer see that to which it points.
20. Honor your senses with awareness, and your Spirit with zazen or other centering meditation. The ‘haiku mind’ should be reflective as a clear mountain pond: reflective not of thought, but of the moon and every flight beyond …