Monday, January 5, 2009


Well it does. For those of us poetically minded, haiku just happens. It happens in the shower. It happens in the car. It happens on the beach. When you think in poems, sometimes the world comes at you in 17-syllable snippets. Especially when you are either teaching haiku or writing a haiku book.

Can you guess what I was doing when these haiku happened?

Bees tethered to a
Coke can strain to break free of
its sweet, sticky spell.
© Jill Corcoran 2009

Willow dances with
the wind in her hair. Autumn
arrives tomorrow.© Jill Corcoran 2009

Spider lost in spinning
snags absentminded cricket.
Crunchy lunch surprise.© Jill Corcoran 2009

Several years ago, my child's third grade class went on a nature walk and learned about native plants. They learned California poppies close at night and open every morning in a blaze of orange bright. They learned the ways of the wild west, of cowboys rubbing California sagebrush on their skin to camouflage the stink of their hard earned sweat. They ate mustard plants and they washed their hands in the foam of California lilacs.

When we came back from that hike, I taught the students how to write haiku. How to recreate their experience with nature in the minds' of their readers. Here are two haikus I wrote and shared with my students:

Rise and shine poppy,
flood this thirsty hillside in
deep waves of orange.© Jill Corcoran 2009

Sagebrush cologne can't
rub off the stench of stampedes,
carousing cowboys.© Jill Corcoran 2009

And just as haiku happens, sometimes, well sometimes it stalls. After I showed J. Patrick Lewis my newest haiku, he sent me what could have been my motto while writing the manuscript:

Writing a haiku
in seventeen syllables
is very diffi-

Does haiku happen to you?


  1. I wish I had been in your child's class! I just taught haiku to a class of fifth graders. They wrote winter haikus so gorgeous they surprised themselves. But I love your last example best.

  2. Haiku happens to me too, and I'm not even a poet! Thanks for sharing Jill; I loved your haikus!

  3. Wow, you choose just the right words for your haikus. Love them! I love to write haikus! (but I do have to work at it..)

  4. Haikus do not come to me! Strange, I know, for a poet type. But things lile Villanelles, Sestina's and Abecedarius' do!

    Oh, how I love words!

    Your haiku's were lovely. I have haiku envy now!!

  5. A deepening happens in my heart and mind when I encounter something that presents intelligence and beauty together in the same movie and it happened when I read your Haikus, thank you!
    ~Robyn Waters

  6. Jacqui, Stephanie, Kelly, Elise and Robyn,
    thank you all for your beautiful words.

  7. Thank you, Sarah.

    And thank you to all my lovely facebook friends who left me their kind comments in facebook land:)

  8. Should have figured you for a poet with all your rabble rousing on Facebook (branding thread)

    Love your Haiku's.

    Love the way you look at the world!

  9. I still remember my first haiku. It was the first time I wrote words that slid out sideways and landed on the page and said something I didn't know was there.

    You are one brave and talented poet to go after a whole book of them. But obviously up to the challenge. I love the "bees tethered to a Coke can" image...

  10. Just went on the nature walk last week with a fresh crop of third graders and taught the Haiku workshop to them yesterday. Their haikus were fantastic. Basho would be proud.

  11. Haiku happen not
    to me, but to you who shares
    cokes with bumble bees.

  12. very fun - and I love the anonymous contribution, too!

  13. Lee,
    Anon is the wonderful Robyn Waters.


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