Haiku is a Japanese poetic form I became acquainted with through the writings of JD Salinger. One of his recurring characters is Seymour Glass, and Seymour enjoys writing haikus.
Haiku is a simple, three line form: a line of five syllables, a line of seven syllables, and a line of five syllables. Haiku began as part of another form, Tanka. Haiku forms the first three lines of the Tanka but the Tanka adds two seven syllable lines at the end.
Haiku vs. Tanka 5 5 7 7 5 5 7 7
“Brevity is the soul of wit,” as the old saying goes. I think it is also the soul of poetry. Because of that I enjoy both Haiku and Tanka. Working in such small spaces results in writing that is sparse, distilled, and impressionistic more than descriptive.
Below is a haiku I wrote when I was about 21. Before writing it, I had attempted many others that didn’t work. This one held up well enough that I included it in my first book, The Wind and the Shadows. I hope readers enjoy it.
Janitor So how does it feel, O Sisyphus of depots: tracks on your wet floor?