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Haiku Poetry: Definition, Writing Style, and Other Answers

By Gary R. Hess. Category: Poetry

Haiku is one of the strongest and most well known types of poetry. In such a short writing it can accomplish virtually any emotion or feeling. It can bring tears, happiness, or excitement. There are virtually no other poetry types in existence which can accomplish such a feat in such few words.

Since the early 2000s there has been quite a bit of buzz about haiku poetry. It has since become a favorite among teens and young adults; however, it is often used as just a favorite word instead of a favorite writing style. Teens make mistakes and use the term as something they simply don't understand. A haiku poem has a specific structure and must not be altered upon without going into the realm of freehand.

This article was written in order to answer common questions about the literature genre known as haiku.

Want to read some haiku? Check out our famous haiku poets.
Haiku definition
Haiku is, as defined by dictionary.com and others, a poem with three lines containing 5, 7, 5 morae (not syllables).
How come none of the haiku I have read are in 5,7,5?
Classical haiku poetry is not written in 5,7,5 because the poem was originally written in Japanese and then translated into English, therefor changing the morae within the poem.

Most non-English written Haiku aren't in 5,7,5 due to language constrictions. Normally, the authors try to keep the poems around six seconds long (or said without taking a breath).

What is the difference between hokku, haiku and haikai?
Hokku was originally a one line poem, sometimes used as an opening verse to haikai, a chain of verses made into a poem; however, many classical Japanese poets used hokku by itself, leaving it much like modern haiku. The only difference is that hokku was left as one line and haiku is written in three. Due to this, many hokku writers are now looked at as classical haiku poets.
Ok, I understand that haiku must be a specific length. Is there anything else I need to know before getting started?
Yes and no. Haiku is generally thought of as a way of life. The themes also vary from many aspects but all stay within the norms of nature.
What are some of the more famous haiku poets out there?
Some of the most famous haiku poets are Japanese, so the form will be slightly different due to translation issues; however, they are: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, Kobayashi Issa and Masaoka Shiki.