Haiku and the Value of Constraints

Posted by Drew on August 24, 2012

A good haiku is a marble of dense meaning and exact language – it uses economy of expression to create maximum impact. The extreme constraints of the form require the perfect word, the best metaphor, the most precise image. At their best, haikus are powerful nuggets of intense emotion.

Here are a few haikus that I like, from Frogpond.

rain settles
some of the pollen
some of the plans

– Peggy Willis Lyles, Frogpond 31:3

year’s end – 
what made me think I needed
a harmonica

– Carolyn Hall, Frogpond XXX:3

dim light
the night nurse
describes the rain

– Joann Klontz, Frogpond XXVI:2

Thin icicles
on the telephone wire
her distant voice

– George Swede, Frogpond V:4

Here are a few of mine:

The sky is a quilt, 
cleanly flayed, batting exposed.
I labor beneath. 
The breeze this morning:
freshness punctuated by
a styrofoam ruckus
Like a metronome
at 200 bpm,
your tail never stops.

Video, made well, can carry the same impact: Good haikus and good videos do more with less.