Haiku is a form of ancient Japanese poetry. It evolved from a short form of poetry called tanka, which was practiced in the golden age of Japanese poetry (A.D. 794-1185). Group improvisation extended tanka into renga (linked verses). An opening verse, hokku, suggested the emotion or mood. In the fifteenth century, hokku sometimes formed independent verses that resembled the haiku we know today. In the late seventeenth century, poets like Basho, Buson, and Issa continued this writing tradition.

Haiku is written in three lines comprised of limited syllables (“oms” in the Japanese language). In English, haiku, by convention, limits the number of syllables in each poem to seventeen—divided in three lines of 5 syllables-7 syllables-5 syllables each. This rule of 5-7-5 lends a sense of control and confidence to those who are beginners in the art of haiku.

After you have read the poetry of the great masters (over and over again) and have practiced writing your own haiku, you may try your wings and make up your own rules and change them if you wish. However, you must first learn the rules that have been followed for centuries. And, we also request that you not judge much of the haiku we offer here as poetry and instead call it communication in verse.

We hope you try this concise and compelling form of expression and have fun with it—and then share your haiku with us at Your Good Life.