Haiku Format and Other Poetry Structures

haiku format

Writing poetry is a great way to get in touch with your perception of the world around you. Whether you use a haiku format or employ a limerick rhyming scheme there are are many different ways to express yourself poetically. In today’s blog, we’ll look at some simple poetry writing methods. Specifically, the haiku, what it is, and how to write one. 

What is a Haiku?

A haiku is type of short poem originating from Japan. It consists of three phrases whose words add up to a total of 17 “on” or sounds. The phrases are arranged in a 5, 7, 5 “on” pattern. Traditionally, these poems must also contain a “kireji”, or cutting word to signify a sense of closure, and a “kigo”, or seasonal reference. These poems do not have rhyming lines. 

How to Write in Haiku Format

Haiku in English can vary in their resemblance to traditional Japanese haiku. However, they tend to stick to short concise wording, a 5-7-5 syllable/sound pattern, a reference to nature, and a lack of rhyme. 

Here is an example of the haiku format by Matsuo Basho (considered the greatest haiku poet):

An old silent pond…

A frog jumps into the pond,

splash! Silence again.

If we count the syllables on each line we can see the 5,7,5 “on” pattern being utilised. We can also see that sentences can be divided between lines. What’s more, there is a beginning, middle, and end to the story with the last line being a “surprise” ending — something we wouldn’t expect. 

Steps for Writing “Surprise-Ending” Haikus

  1. Look out your window and describe what you see. This will help you find your subject matter.
  2. Focus in on a specific image and write two lines. Don’t worry about the syllable count just yet. 
  3. Write a third line that is about something different than the first two lines. 
  4. Consider all three lines together. Do they tell a story despite the surprise of the third line? Do they spark a different idea you’d like to try out?
  5. Now rewrite the poem using the 5,7,5, syllable format. Feel free to experiment with any new ideas that come to mind. 

And with step 5 completed you have now written a poem in a haiku format. 

Other Poetry Formats

Of course, haiku aren’t the only simple poems that exist. Here are some other poetry formats you can try out!

Limerick

Limericks are composed of five lines. They follow the rhyme scheme: aabba. Where the end of all the “a” lines rhyme and the end of all the “b” lines rhyme. 

For example:

Hickory, dickory, dock

The mouse ran up the clock. 

The clock struck one,

The mouse fell down,

Hickory, dickory, dock.

Acrostic

An acrostic poem follows this simple rule:

For example, let’s use the word GOOROO:

Great for all your learning needs.

Opens doors for curious students.

Outstanding and experienced tutors.

Ready to ignite your passions.

Operating 24/7.

Only thing you have to do is believe in your potential.

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia is a Gooroo Courses Tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership and online learning platform that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.