Saturday, April 23, 2016

Haiku A to Z: T is for Techniques and Tips

photo archives 2013
"I felt rescued when I came across Aware--a haiku primer written by hand and illustrated by Betty Drevniok...I came away with her precept: 'Write [haiku] in three short lines using the principle of comparison, contrast, or association.' On page 39 she used an expression I had been missing in the discussion of haiku when she wrote: 'This technique provides the pivot on which the reader's thought turns and expands.' Technique! So there are tools one can use! I thought joyfully." --Jane Reichhold, Haiku Techniques

The feelings expressed by Ms. Reichhold (above link) have probably been relived many times over by writers of haiku through the years. We finally find out we've not been left alone in our efforts--there are guidelines to help us, tips and advice on techniques.  And her essay is one of the best on the subject.

In it she expands beyond the ideas of comparison, contrast and association to include some twenty additional techniques. Among other things, her list includes: riddle, sense-switching, narrowing focus, sketch, and word-plays. If you are interested in writing haiku, you might check out the link.

Mark Blasini, in Five Techniques for Writing Haiku, expands on the idea of technique with these subjects: what-when-where, juxtaposition, unfolding, zooming, and sketch from life.

Michael Dylan Welch, in Ten Ways to Improve Your Poetry with Haiku, has compiled an even different list. His includes:  focus on concrete images, come to your senses, control objectivity and subjectivity, and distinguish between description and inference.

And there's more! Ms. Reichhold goes from techniques and tips to a discussion on rules: Haiku Rules That Have Come and Gone, Take Your Pick. It appears that Pablo Picasso, to whom the quote "learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist" is attributed, could have been speaking of haiku, too.

Tremendous treasures have been uncovered the last few days with more to go. As we travel on this journey, I share this day twenty haiku:

teasel cones aim at
far field galaxies...cargo
stands at the ready
--Kenda Turner

(note, update: I first posted this with my haiku reading: 'thistle cones...' until I realized my photo is not of thistles! It took some research to learn they are called 'common teasels.' What, who knew? After all these years of calling them thistles. Amazingly, for this challenge, the correct name also starts with a -t-!)


  1. I've bookmarked this page to come back to this summer when time might open more for me.
    You have certainly confirmed in me a love of haiku. I don't know if I will ever write haiku, but I do try my hand at some poetry. These techniques will be more than handy.
    I love the sense of being in the moment that haiku delivers.

  2. So glad this has been helpful, Ann! I've personally benefited myself in compiling the posts but at the same time happy to know others can glean from them, too. Best of luck in your poetry writing and thanks so much for coming by...

  3. I enjoyed that haiku! Thank you for sharing it!

    Stormy’s Sidekicks!

    @LGKeltner from
    Writing Off the Edge

  4. Thanks, L.G.--so glad you came by!

  5. Oh what a perfect haiku for T and what an image it evokes. Unfortunately all too familiar for me and my lawn!

  6. Hi, Kathryn--thank you, and thanks for stopping in. Nice to meet you :-)

  7. My mother-in-law, who grew up on a farm, told me years ago that the correct name for this plant is "teasel." So I always remember that name. And then I add (to myself) the name from my townie childhood - thistle!