Haiku Lesson One


Caleb Mutua


Haiku Lesson One : Introduction to Haiku

by Caleb Mutua


Haiku is an expression of a moment in which something happened that caught the poet's attention. A haiku poet is called "haijin".
Like a well taken photograph, haiku captures the present moment and at the same time preserves the special moments in three simple lines.

Where do we get haiku from?
Our environment is a rich source of inspiration. We should observe keenly the changes in our surroundings in order to write good haiku. Notice old and new things: the new fruit in the market, the light rain in the afternoon, the full moon at night or holiday celebrations. Find the simplest words and phrases to share with others your encounters in your haiku.

Essentials of Haiku
- Kigo (Season word)
- Short-Long-Short, three lines
- Kireji (Cut marker)
Each essential will be covered in the next class.

Keep it Simple and Clear.
Haiku is simple and should be simply written. Use of complicated words diverts the attention of the reader to the word rather than to the poem itself. ‘Big words’ also make it hard for readers to understand the poem and can easily lead to misinterpretations. A clear haiku does not leave question marks and confusion in the reader’s mind.

Read it Back
After you have written a haiku, assume you are the reader who will read your haiku; knowing nothing about what you observed. It is helpful to read the haiku again and again loudly to yourself or your friend to ensure that it does not sound like one long sentence and that there is a pause somewhere in your haiku. Listen to the rhythm, make sure the lines are not too hard to pronounce and that they flow smoothly as you read them aloud.

Why write haiku / why join Kenya Saijiki?

For genuine love of poetry.
Most importantly, for enriching our lives through experiences and thoughts of different haijin in their poems, narratives and diaries. Observing and writing haiku should be a worthy use of each haijin’s leisure time.

Kenya Saijiki has the most active haiku writers in the whole of Africa. It is a Kenyan forum that continues to provide an arena for members’ self discovery, seasonal consciousness and critical appraisal of their work. Shared haiku provoke discussions that bring enlightenment and knowledge to all members. A wide range of cultural information about Kenya and other parts of the world is preserved at member’s disposal in the Kenya Saijiki web pages. It is free to join.

Writing haiku helps individuals understand and appreciate the Kenyan way of life, giving us a sense of belonging. Haijin also get to understand, respect and appreciate their diversity. This is further emphasized by occasional excursions that bring together all its members to participate in writing competition and appreciating other people’s haiku.

While today’s world has dehumanized relations by constant pursuit for wealth, Kenya Saijiki provides its members with love, care and true friendship. Relationships are not material oriented and members shape each other’s attitude and behaviour for the better.

Writing and observing haiku improves our communication skills. Careful choice and use of words is greatly emphasized. Despite its simplicity, haiku trains haijin on how to construct vivid images using simple words in their different compositions and at the same time improving their vocabulary. Haijin are also taught about how to use their five senses of perception in observing the world around them.

Haiku club members are taught computer skills that enable them operate a computer and use the internet in order to be able to share their own haiku with the rest of the members through the internet. These lessons are offered freely to all Kenya Saijiki members and a certificate is awarded upon completion of the course.

Observing and writing haiku teaches us to be aware of our environment and to care and protect our surroundings. We learn to take note of the seasons and realise how nature changes throughout the year. We learn more about human festivals and celebrations that recur at the same time each year.

Haiku draws us closer to God. By observing nature around them, haijin see beyond the man-made world and appreciate the marvellous creative works of our Grand Creator that attest to His wisdom and love for humankind.

Just like any other acquired taste, loving and appreciating haiku does not come naturally to any of us; constant practice and exposure to other people’s haiku is needed.

Caleb Mutua


Further Reference

Teaching Children about Haiku


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