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Writing haiku, like riding a bicycle, is one of those things you never forget. Even if you’re a few years out of elementary school, you probably remember how it goes: three lines, with five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second line, and five syllables in the third.

Here’s a haiku by Matsuo Basho, a famous Japanese poet who lived from 1644 to 1694. Note: this is a poem in translation, so in English it doesn’t exactly follow the 5-7-5 syllable format.


from https://www.flickr.com/photos/131326857@N03/27176352086/in/photostream/

Over the next few weeks, I invite you to haul out your haiku skills from the garage of your brain and take them for a spin on Twitter. Here’s all you have to do:

  1. Go to @PiedLaureate.
  2. Check out the most recent haiku you see there.
  3. Write your own haiku that follows naturally from the one before it. Use 5 syllables in the first line, 7 syllables in the second line and 5 in the third.
  4. Feel free to be funny. There’s no rule saying all haiku have to be serious.
  5. Let’s see how many haiku we can create! You’re welcome to add as many as you like.

Then on Saturday, April 8th, you’re invited to join me at a free Poetry Party at Duke Gardens from 10:30 am to 12:00 noon, where we’ll leave the training wheels of Twitter behind and write poems together in person.

You don’t have to be a poet to come — or even to have added a haiku to our Twitterku (though I hope you will). Just come out and enjoy writing poetry in the beautiful Duke Gardens in springtime.All ages and writing abilities are welcome! Bring your family and friends!

For those of you like to know how things get started, haiku began in medieval Japan, when poets would travel miles to meet for a poetry party of their own. Once the party started, one poet would compose the first stanza, known as the hokku, in honor of the host, making a reference to whatever season it happened to be. The host would then write the next stanza, responding to the first one, and from there on out, everyone would get to take turns writing stanzas for the haikai no renga, or “linked verse,” alternating stanzas of 5-7-5 syllable stanzas with 7-7 syllable stanzas until they’d reached a hundred stanzas altogether. And, just to make the party more fun, they made up rules about when you could mention the moon, or flowers, or each season or…love. That first verse, the hokku, eventually became a poem by itself, a haiku. 

If you really want to geek out on haikai no renga, here’s a great article: http://simplyhaiku.com/SHv5n1/features/Arntzen.html. And here’s another one, with the rules we’ll be using for our Poetry Party: http://www.ahapoetry.com/Bare%20Bones/RBless6.html

So take up the Twitterku challenge and join me in writing your own haiku on Twitter, then bring your fabulous haiku writing skills to Duke Gardens on the morning of April 8th for our Poetry Party!

Piedmont Laureate Twitterku Challenge: @PiedLaureate.

Poetry Party at Duke Gardens
Date: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Time: 10:30 am to 12:00 noon
Location: Meet at the Doris Duke Center to be escorted to the poetry party