I don’t post a lot of haiku or even physically write it down, but I do compose it often in my head. It’s great practice at using language economically. Trying to say something resonant with very few words is a worthwhile endeavor — not just for writers. It’s meditative; it focuses thought and calms the mind. It’s ideal during long walks or in situations that require extended periods of waiting.
I typically write free verse, so haiku’s rigid structure edges me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to write poems through a separate lens. I’m reminded of learning to be a switch-hitter during my high school baseball days. After batting exclusively right-handed since Little League, I chose to try hitting left-handed. The result, following a steep learning curve that involved some embarrassing strike-outs, was that I achieved greater mental focus during my left-handed attempts. In baseball terms, “I saw the ball better” from this new side of the plate. By my senior year, my left-handed batting average was slightly higher than was my right, but what surprised me the most was how much batting left-handed improved my right-handed hitting. The switch-hitting process helped me identify and correct some longstanding bad habits. It’s amazing what stepping briefly into another set of shoes can teach you about returning to the old ones. Likewise, writing haiku has made me a better writer of free verse.
Here are two recent winter-themed examples:
first snow of winter
melted by the morning sun
change comes too slowly
an ice covered oak
emits a first faint crackle
I am emboldened
The limitlessness of expression to be discovered within three short lines of seventeen syllables can be awe-inspiring. If you’re interested in poetry, let’s follow each other on Instagram. I sometimes post short poems there.