So Much to Learn

My name is Tim, and I don’t know everything.

Isn’t that how it goes?  Admitting one’s problem so it’s possible to move on from it?  I don’t know for sure, after all: I just said I don’t know everything.

That said, in this case, I think I’m getting a clue. Just a clue, but it’s a start.

Okay, okay, okay…I used to think writing a haiku was easy.

Whew.

I wanted to write a few more paragraphs to build a bit of suspense and a touch of tension, but I had to just get it off my chest.  I couldn’t wait any longer.

I used to think writing haiku was easy.  I used to think haiku was the stuff of school poetry month in the early elementary grades.  I used to think 5-7-5…how hard can it be?  

I was wrong.  There’s a lot more to it, and I’m lovin’ it.

Before I go further, in my defense, it can be easy:

I’m just sitting here
looking at the cursor flash
wondering what’s next

The third line was the toughest of the three, but most of the difficulty came with deciding whether or not “wondering” had two syllables or three.  I deferred to Mirriam Webster and went with three, despite the fact that I usually say, “won-dring.”

Instead of “easy,” though, let’s go with “accessible.”  Because it is.  The example I just shared took me about a minute to write (“And it shows,” you whisper.) This morning my wife and I stood in the kitchen trying to come up with a haiku on the subject of rhyming with orange. We weren’t creating high art, but we were having fun. Poetry is supposed to be like that: fun!

Getting back to haiku, though: I still don’t know everything.  Not even close.  But over the past few weeks of National Poetry Month, I’ve read a lot of wonderful haiku, and I’ve learned a lot about the form.  I’ve even posted a few of my own, along with a few tankas, a skinny, a nonet or two, a haibun, and some free verse poetry. 

I’ll continue to learn, and I’ll continue to write.  To those of you who have served as mentors for my efforts, thank you!  


Thank you to the folks at Two Writing Teachers for hosting the Slice of Life Story Challenge! If you’ve not seen it, check it out at https://twowritingteachers.org


It doesn’t even have to be 5-7-5? Mind blown.  

16 thoughts on “So Much to Learn”

  1. What I love about haiku is that it can be as simple or as complex as you make it. I love learning more and more about how it works! Ruth, thereisnosuchthingasagodforsakentown.blogspot.com

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim,
    Thanks for sharing! I’m with you and what you are learning about poetry. I am such a rookie. I used to write poems with my students–“easy” haikus, diamantes, cinquains. All the accessible forms for my students. Now over the past year I’ve been writing poetry with the Ethical ELA group, and my mind is blown almost daily! So many mentors there, and it is so fun to find that other forms and free verse can be accessible too, isn’t it? I went looking at some of your recent poems–nice. The one that struck me was the photo of the turkeys in the field. I loved the poem about the natural world staying in the shadows, except when they don’t–“casting all caution aside” Beautiful image and insight!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Denise, thank you for your comments, and thank you for taking a look at my earlier poems from this month. As I’ve seen what other teachers are doing with poetry, I’m amazed and inspired–there is so much talent in these communities. I just read and commented on your carrot cake piece. It was a wonderful poem about a wonderful subject!

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  3. YES! Poetry is so much fun! I love that some forms, like haiku, make it accessible (perfect word!) by giving a structure that seems easy to fill in (and yet can hold very complex thoughts!), while others, like free verse, can seem daunting but also liberating! So glad you explored this month! Don’t stop when April’s over! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tim, I think you’ve done a fabulous job writing poetry each day this month. I agree, I think that people assume that writing haiku is easy, when if written well and correctly – they are not. And, as your last line indicates, they do not even have to fit that pattern anymore. But, I think I learned the skill best when trying to teach it to my student writers. They encountered several obstacles – 1) it should not be a sentence. This was eye-opening for me to see how engrained and even fearful the students were of not “doing” what they had been taught by their classroom teachers over the last 4 years. Haiku can be very freeing when you realize that there is no sentence structure involved! And, 2) connecting words go out the window – who wants to use a precious syllable on a word such as the, a, an, but, they, it, etc. etc. I don’t know everything either, and I think that makes us learn well! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Carol! They really are–as so many people have learned–deceptively simple while remaining remarkably complex little poems. I’m looking forward to writing and enjoying them well beyond this month!

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  5. DITTO!! I’m learning so much this month regarding poetry. I was never quite the fan of haikus because I thought I was….I don’t know, better than that? How awful because now? They ARE challenging, my goodness. I love your post – happy poemizing this month!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Tim. I love the nod to your mentors. Haiku can be challenging. I usually tell students to do some prewriting with sketches, lists, webs – just get down the image you want to create or the idea. Then try writing a sentence or two and divide them into three lines. Finally, worry about the 5 -7 -5 pattern. Don’t let the syllables control what you want to say. Wordsmith to revise to get the syllable count right.

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  7. I couldn’t believe it either when I first learned haiku didn’t have to be 5-7-5 (although let’s face it, that one “feels” right). The “easy” one you include here is quite true for the writer!! I’ve loved all the poems and forms I’ve encountered this month as well. It feels good to stretch and grow. And to have one’s mind blown by poetry. Your post is one all writers should read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fran, I agree that 5-7-5 feels right, and I suppose that’s why the convention came to be. It’s been great to actually encounter (to use your word) so many different forms versus just seeing them in a list. I want to try all of them!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You hit the nail on the head. Haiku is simple. I will freely admit that I’ve used haiku as a cop-out form sometimes when I’ve had to write poetry and my mind is blank. Why? Because it is, as you say, a highly accessible form. GOOD haiku, though, is deceptively difficult. (Ever play the game Nim? Easy to play. Tough to master.) And I’ll also freely admit I’ve written my share of mediocre haiku. Let’s say I’m workin’ on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the word “good” in your comments. I’m not going to go all freshman-in-college-philisophical, but the condensed form of haiku has lately gotten me thinking about “good” poems. I’ve been reading some of the “masters” (sorry about all the quotations) and I’ve been again struck by how situational poetry can be. My enjoyment can be based on my mindset. It doesn’t take long to read a haiku, so they’re kind of like really good, expensive candy–if you just pop it in your mouth and swallow, there’s not much enjoyment. It needs to be savored.

      Where in the world did that come from?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Tim, this comment is a post in itself. It’s poetry. This idea of poetry as candy – I’m going to have to savor THAT.

        Liked by 1 person

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