Haiku Poems: Definition, Examples, and How to Write a Haiku

A haiku, or haiku poem, is a type of short form poem. Learn more about this playful style of poetry and how to write haikus below.

What is a Haiku Poem?

A haiku poem is a Japanese poetic form. The poem is made up of three lines. Haikus follow a syllable pattern of 5 7 5; the first line has 5 syllables, the second has 7 syllables, and the third line has 5 syllables. A haiku should have no more than 17 syllables total. (Folks will not always follow these guidelines, but since when do poets follow every rule?)

Historically, haikus appeared in 17th-century Japanese literature. Modern interest in haiku poetry was sparked by Ezra Pound’s Imagist movement and his interest in haiku’s brevity and form. Haikus often, but not always, explore the relationship between humans and their surroundings.

Examples of Haiku Poems

Below you’ll find some examples of haiku poetry. You’ll notice that some follow the strict 5-7-5 format, while others do not.

Haiku [for you], by Sonia Sanchez

love between us is

speech and breath. loving you is

a long river running.

Our Editor’s Take

“This haiku follows the traditional 5-7-5 pattern. I love the way the first line hangs, causing a pause in the breath. Then, line 2 calls this out specifically. Can’t beat that connection between form and function.” – R. R. Noall

[Grasses wilt:] by Yamaguchi Seishi

Grasses wilt:

the braking locomotive

grinds to a halt.

[Everything I touch] by Kobayashi Issa

Everything I touch

with tenderness, alas,

pricks like a bramble

How to Write a Haiku Poem

Haikus are an amazing form of poetry because they are great for all ages and poetic levels. Whether you’re working with young students, or simply trying out a new form, truly anyone can write a haiku.

Haiku Rules:

  • 5-7-5 syllable format
  • Only 17 syllables in total

At first, I recommend sticking to the 5-7-5- format. As always, choose a topic that you know (at least at first).

For example, I am going to focus my poem on the topic of coffee and describe the sensory experience I have when I drink it in the morning.

Title: Coffee at Daybreak

A hot elixir

Brims like the sunrise today,

Warms my soul within

Ready to Give Haiku Poetry a Try?

Haikus are an incredibly accessible form of poetry. Whether you want to try something new, or get back to basics, you can trust that writing a few haikus will help you get there.

Reach out to us on social media if you try writing a haiku. As a reminder, From Whispers to Roars also accepts poetry submissions (haikus included) when submissions are open!

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