やきぐり や かん で かんじる あたたかさ
Chestnuts roasting —
warm feelings of the cold
springing to mind.
NACOS tips for writing English haiku
The Japanese measure their language differently from most other languages because their language is timed differently. The length of Japanese words isn’t determined by stress and syllables as in English, but by something called a mora. Long syllables have two morae while short syllables have one. The 5-7-5 haiku structure, therefore, doesn’t refer to syllables but to morae. A seventeen syllable haiku poem in English seems overly long and clunky to those who have read haiku in Japanese.
The original reason that Japanese haiku poets began using seventeen morae as a standard is that it was believed to be the amount that could be spoken in one breath. When you write your haiku, think about this. I have personally settled on 14 syllables as a guideline in English, but other haiku poets use fewer. Some haiku in English have only around six or seven. Another idea would be to ignore syllables and use word stress as a way of measuring the length of your poem. Whatever you do, keep in mind the spirit of the short haiku poem and the differences between English and Japanese.
Frustrated by Michiko: Illustrated by Michiko