Today, April 17, is International Haiku Poetry Day. It\u2019s thus an exciting date if you\u2019re into Japanese poetry! But what exactly are haiku? And how do you write one? Let us explain a few of the basics.\nWhat Is a Haiku?\nHaiku are a type of short poem from Japan. Traditionally, these poems:\n\n \tUse a three-phrase structure (5, 7 and 5 syllables).\n \tAre about nature and include at least one kigo or \u201cseason\u201d word.\n \tPresent a juxtaposition, traditionally using a kireji or \u201ccutting\u201d word.\n\nIn Japan, poets traditionally write haiku as a single vertical line, read from top to bottom. But when we write them in English, we use three separate lines:\nA midsummer night\nThe silence will break with dawn\nFor now, it is calm\nThe \u201crules\u201d above are fairly flexible these days, so if you want to write about something other than nature or with a different structure, that\u2019s entirely up to you! But if you are new to this poetic form, using the traditional structure and style is a good writing exercise.\nKigo (Season Words)\nKigo are seasonal words traditionally used in Japanese poetry. There are even lists of kigo specifically for poets to use.\n\nSome kigo have obvious connections to a specific season, such as our use of \u201cmidsummer\u201d in the example above. But some are less obvious if you don\u2019t know the traditions they\u2019re based on. For instance, the \u201cmoon\u201d (tsuki) is an autumn kigo despite being visible all year round.\n\n[caption id="attachment_12527" align="aligncenter" width="425"] You can see why they often choose rural scenes.[\/caption]\n\nYou do not have to use an \u201cofficial\u201d kigo in your poem if you choose not to. However, you should use language that evokes a time and place if you want it to feel like a traditional haiku.\nKireji (Cutting Words)\nThe literal translation of kireji is \u201ccutting word.\u201d Broadly, these function as a kind of punctuation in some types of Japanese poetry, often to add emphasis. For instance, a haiku might use a kireji at the end of the first and third lines to emphasize a point of contrast. Or you could add a kireji between the second and third lines to indicate a turning point in a poem.\n\nHowever, English does not contain any direct equivalent to these terms. This makes writing a \u201cproper\u201d haiku difficult, but you can approximate kireji in English using punctuation. It also helps to think about the purpose of kireji in Japanese haiku. Even if you cannot add a literal kireji, for instance, you can phrase your poem in a way that emphasizes a juxtaposition within it.\nTips for Writing Haiku in English\nFinally, we\u2019ll offer a few pointers to use when writing haiku in English:\n\n \tHaiku usually depict an \u201cobjective\u201d scene (i.e., you create an image of the world rather than describing your feelings or thoughts about the world).\n \tThis type of poetry is traditionally about nature and set in a specific season. However, you can write about any subject at all, so feel free to break the traditional \u201crules.\u201d\n \tInclude a point of juxtaposition (e.g., if you use the word \u201csilence\u201d in line one, you could introduce something that makes a noise in line three).\n \tIgnore the syllable count while working out what your poem will be about. You can then edit each line down to the required length when you\u2019re happy with the overall idea.\n \tIf you\u2019re struggling for a word of a certain length, try a thesaurus.\n \tRemember that haiku do not have to rhyme.\n\nLeave us a comment below this post with your poetic efforts!\n\nAnd if you\u2019d like us to check any of your writing \u2013 creative or otherwise \u2013 send us the document today.