Rhythm and surprise.
Matsuo Basho, Haiku Master ((1644–1694) may or may not agree but he did have a sense of humor.
Humor and riddles are a distinct part of Haiku and make this poetry form, along with the challenge of its meter, an excellent exercise for a writer.
Basho wrote this charming Haiku about a sound we have all heard. He found something amusing in that sound. Here are all the senses brought together as the Haiku master challenges the cat:
Why so scrawny, cat? starving for fat fish or mice . . . Or backyard love? (Basho)
Counting out the 5-7-5, seventeen syllable form is calming and deliberate at the same time. The words are direct; not a metaphor in sight. There is always a phrase and a fragment. A cut. (The cat might be too busy to look for food.) Simple language, deep meaning. A fast read that keeps you thinking. What I would love someone to say about my novel!
Being able to choose a few words that tell a great deal is the ultimate exercise in learning to clean up your writing. Words count not word count
You can describe things huge in scope:
seas are wild tonight . . . stretching over Sado Island silent clouds of stars (Basho)
and things very small.
lady butterfly perfumes her wings by floating over the orchid (Basho)
Another reason to play with the Haiku is the lack of “I”. This poetry puts humanity first. The poet is the observer, one with nature and the elements. In this ego driven world of ours the Haiku is a way to step back and look at what is not ‘not all about you’. Instead of “I’m so lonely” think of “a lonely sparrow looks for its mate…” Haiku can teach us to add detail as well as leave it out when it hides the true essence of something.
Challenge yourself and share some of your poems in this style. I read that it can become addictive, so you’ve been warned.
I was taught the first line of Haiku often sets up an impossibility.
nudging the sun’s side the moon pushes her shadow into the fresh night
Write some Haiku to share. Be free about it. After all it is Zen poetry.