How to Write a Haiku Poem, with Haiku Examples
This page explains how to write a haiku poem, and offers haiku examples and prompts to inspire you. At the bottom of this page, you'll find links to more poetry help.
What is haiku?
Haiku is a Japanese poetry form. A haiku uses just a few words to capture a moment and create a picture in the reader's mind. It is like a tiny window into a scene much larger than itself.
Traditionally, haiku is written in three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third line.
Here's a haiku poem written by a poetry student:
The last winter leaves
Clinging to the black branches
Explode into birds.
You can find more haiku examples
by our visitors at the bottom of this page.
Characteristics of haiku
The following are typical of haiku:
- A focus on nature.
- A "season word" such as "snow" which tells the reader what time of year it is.
- A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.
- Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.
Below, you'll find some ideas for writing haiku. If you're interested in other kinds of poetry, you might also like our online writing course, Essentials of Poetry Writing
How to write a haiku - try it!
You can use the pictures lower down on this page to give you ideas. In your haiku, try to use details related to the senses -- sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste.
Or look out your window, and describe what you see. Try to "zoom in" on a small detail that contains the feeling of the larger scene.
Or follow the steps below to write a "surprise-ending haiku." This is based on an exercise from the poet Ron Patchett which is described in The Haiku Handbook
by William J. Higginson:
- Write two lines about something beautiful in nature. You can use the pictures below to give you ideas. Don't worry about counting syllables yet.
- Write a third line that is a complete surprise, that is about something completely different from the first two lines.
- Look at the three lines together. Does the combination of these two seemingly unrelated parts suggest any surprising relationships? Does it give you any interesting ideas?
- Now rewrite the poem, using the 5-syllable, 7-syllable, 5-syllable format and experimenting with the new ideas or perspectives that have occurred to you.
Haiku examples by our visitors
Click below to see contributions from other poets.
haiku poems - page 12
That quenches my thirst
Ocean vast and beautiful
But she is salty
_______________ About the author: "Poet since 08. I publish my poems raw and …
haiku poems - page 10
Sick, though I love her
even though she always lies
cherishing my bones.
_______________ About the author: "I am a 45 yr. old woman from Alabama …
haiku poems - page 9
The pond, blue, round, fresh
The frog jumps, breaking surface
In and wet he is
I'm Karis. I have written two other haikus for thins …
haiku poems - page 7
A dew drop smiles sitting on a leaf
the tree looked indulgently at the juvenile
the Great Oak secretly fumes
haiku poems - page 6
Funny silly boy
with spiky bouncy brown hair
and two brave brothers
_______________ About the author: "I go to Granity School and yesterday Mahuri; …
haiku poems - page 5
Fire begins to burn
In the truck red lights and horns
Pull the hose and douse flames
_______________ About the author: "I'm a 33yr old career …
haiku poems - page 4
Green rushing water
Draining into the seaside
Reflects in my eyes.
_______________ About the author: "Susan Rochelle Faber lives in Toronto, and, …
haiku poems - page 3
On her birthday this summer
I took her to watch the sea
how it kisses the shore
more haiku poetry
Some of the haiku that we recently published have disappeared from the page, apparently due to a technical problem. We are very sorry about this. We are …
Fences Like Smoke
until your white spots wink out,
fences gone like smoke.
Morning comes …
Haiku Photo Prompts
See a complete list of CWN poetry pages. Sign up for our online course, Essentials of Poetry Writing.
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