Remember in school when we had to write haiku? Neither do I, so here’s a refresher. Haiku is Japanese poetry, three lines long, with seventeen syllables. It’s written as 5 syllables, 7 syllables, then 5 again. It’s usually about nature or an experience. Someone, somewhere, thought this up, folks.
I live in the Eastern US, where “nature” has been eleven straight months of rain, followed by a swath of single-digit weather. I wrote this lovely haiku about it:
Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain
Rain rain rain rain rain rain rain
Ice, ice, ice, ice, ice.
I know. I agree. I am far too talented to be wasting my life working instead of creating masterpieces.
Looking at it, haiku are like limericks for the snootier among us, minus the humor. Haiku doesn’t rhyme, and not to disparage a centuries old tradition, it sounds just a bit disjointed and rambling when read aloud.
In my mind, all haiku follows this:
These words make no sense.
Here are seven syllables.
Oh look, it’s a dog.
Don’t hate me for my talents, embrace me in all my haiku glory.
I have never liked non-rhyming poetry. Non-rhyming poetry is cheating. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at a beloved classic, in non-rhyme form. This is my absolute favorite literary piece of all time:
I don’t like them in a home, with a rodent. I don’t like them, wherever you put them. I don’t care for this dish of green eggs and ham. I’ve told you several times, Sam, I don’t care for them.
Now let’s go one step further. Green eggs and haiku.
I don’t like this meal.
Sam, take them away from me.
I won’t eat these eggs.
Look, I’m not saying that the haiku process takes the fun out of poetry (hey, at least with a haiku I wouldn’t have to come up with a word that rhymes with purple for that piece about grape jelly I’ve been struggling to write). I’m just saying it seems like the kind of poetry put together by someone who thought rhyming was overrated and just a tad too, well, rhyme-y.
I may be in the minority here, though. April 17 is National Haiku Day, believe it or not, so make your big Haiku Day plans early. My plans on Haiku Day? I am going to protest by reading from a book of limericks on the White House lawn.
Nobody likes “leaves, all floating down – stupid leaves need to be raked – damn it I hate trees,” but you know what we all have in common?
Everyone loves the man from Nantucket.