begin haiku

is a place to take apart what we know about haiku, examine it closely, and put it back together again.


has had the privilege to host the Shiki Monthly Kukai since September of 2002. A Kukai is a haiku contest where the participating poets vote for one another's poems. Sometimes beginners need some help learning what a haiku is. Other times a poet will fall in love with an image, but just can't seem to get the haiku shaped right to appeal to others. In both cases the result is the same. Zero Votes!

kukai tune-ups

is intended to help just such poets. If you have a poem that earned Zero Points in the kukai, and would be willing to let us work with it, we might be able to learn something together as we analyze your poem and try to find ways to improve it. We are not claiming to be haiku masters! Just more beginners interested in learning together.

Let's Begin!

Kukai Tune-Up #4 -- Deer

At the woods edge
A deer drinks
Sunset reflects

Thanks for sending us your haiku! I'm sorry that it didn't earn any votes in the kukai, but let's see what we can learn from that.

My initial reaction to the haiku is that its a "nice" scene. The poet saw a deer drinking at some water in the edge of the woods with the sunset reflecting in the water. Should be usable material.

Form and Flow -- I would guess that you may have lost some voters on the format. As you know, the 5/7/5 "rule" is quite nice if you are writing in Japanese, but we are not. But syllable counting is still useful because there is a desire for symmetry. Not all poems take the form

   short line  
 a little longer line
   short line

In the November Kukai, when "deer" was the assigned kigo, eighteen of the twenty-two poems were presented in the short/longer/short format, rather than the longer/short/longer format that you chose. This would be very fixable by reversing the first and second lines:

A deer drinks
at the woods edge
sunset reflects

CONTENT -- You did a VERY good thing by juxtaposing two images. Picture One (deer at the woods edge) next to Picture Two (sunset reflecting on the water).

Some people would say having two verbs - two actions - hurts this poem. It might be better to make the last picture a noun.

A deer drinks
at the woods edge
reflected sunset

And *THAT* is a very lovely haiku! YOUR images, with a little bit of tweaking.


See More Kukai Tune-Ups

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