A beginners guide to Haiku

This a short presentation I gave at a local writers group regarding ELH (english language haiku) as we westerners are not Japanese we view things differently and therefore our ELH is uniquely different to Japanese Haiku.

So for our beginners in the art of Haiku I hope this helps. However to fully appreciate and develop your Haiku you will need to read many more Haiku both traditional and western and read from the many text books out there. I hope you enjoy your Haiku journey.

Haiku is a genre of Japanese poetry that has been practiced and enjoyed for over four hundred years.
English-language haiku, which is what we westerners write has been evolving for over a century, continues to do so, and today flourishes worldwide.
Here in Australia, while honouring the ancient haiku spirit, we explore this succinct expression of experience with the authenticity of Australian themes.

Of the many definitions offered for haiku, some commonly held and adhered to criteria are that a haiku:
a) Captures the essence of the moment
b) finds the extraordinay in the ordinary
c) links nature to human nature

Some basic guidelines for Writing Haiku

A haiku captures the essence of a passing moment.
It is written in the present tense, without a full stop or capitals.
A haiku generally refers to nature.
A haiku is tightly focused.
It is concise, 1 to 3 lines and less than 17 syllables.
Juxtaposition compares or contrasts two images.
A haiku generally uses a break (pause) after the first or the second line.
A haiku reports observations experienced through the senses (what is seen, heard, smelt, touched or tasted).
A haiku uses simple language, (without poetic devices such as simile, rhyme or anthropomorphism).
Haiku is objective, (without abstractions, judgements or conclusions).
A haiku leaves something for the reader to ponder.
A haiku poet lives every day with a mind wide open to receive the ‘ahhh’ moment.

Here are some examples of Haiku. The first a traditional haiku by the famous Basho the second by myself

Old pond
frog jumps in
sound of water

whisper on the wind
rustle of fallen leaves
a cold kiss to hand

Author Notes

7 Comments for “A beginners guide to Haiku”

Raymond Tobaygo


Good morning, Craig or is it afternoon in the land down under?

All this time and I never realized you are Australian.

Great piece on haiku poetry…I now have a better understanding of this form of written art as it helps me appreciate it even more.

Take care and stay safe,



Something I have always shied away from, It is counting and ordered and Numbery. My hang up Craig, but I will pin this and maybe I will be tempted… But your post is clear relevant and ponderous. Whoops I may have made a cheeky acronym…
Forgive me my humour is slightly scewed. Joking aside this is the clearest guide to Haiku I have read.

Craig Lincoln


That is exactly what Haiku isn’t Ellen please reread my presentation.
It is not meant to be restrictive.
My above presentation lasted a whole ten minutes in a 90 minute segment.
The rest of the time I put up a few pictures for the participants to write from and then we went into the garden to write more the idea was doing not studying.
Haiku will never be structured do what you will with it Ellen I will be happy to explore the journey with you,

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