Haiku Away!

It’s National Poetry Month and here at Segullah we’re celebrating by hosting another poetry challenge. We were delighted by the response to our limerick contest in March and would now like to put out a call for haikus.

To refresh your memory, a haiku is a very short poem consisting of 17 syllables divided into three lines (5, 7, 5). Many “rules” governing the writing of haikus have evolved over the years, but we’re going to keep it simple. Here are the criteria:

Ӣ 3 lines (5 syllables in first line, 7 in second, 5 in third)
Ӣ Present tense
Ӣ No rhyme
”¢ Must paint a mental picture in reader’s mind

Often haikus are built around a comparison, a contrast, or an association.

Here’s a good example:

The Rose
By Donna Brock

The red blossom bends
And drips its dew to the ground
Like a tear it falls

Remember, nothing sentimental, didactic, rhetorical, or obscure! (Wow, what would sentimental, didactic, rhetorical, and obscure haikus even look like? Just for fun, I’m going to try my hand at each. Here goes:

Sentimental Haiku
Hi! coo. Precious babe
Rosebud mouth, cherubic cheeks
Mama’s baby boy

Didactic Haiku
Be honest and chaste
Pray, obey, serve, love, forgive
Oh, and floss your teeth

Rhetorical Haiku
Oh thou wicked world
Entreat me not nor hail me
Thy lusts wither cold

Obscure Haiku
Carnivorous frond
Devour stench and gormandize
Fetid growth again

Groan.

Okay, let the fun begin! Deadline is midnight Tuesday, April 10th. Winner will receive 50 cents cash and a signed copy of the really bad haiku (sentimental, didactic, rhetorical, or obscure) of his/her choice. (And we really do come through on these prizes. Just ask Rick Walton, winner of the limerick challenge. That man is 50 cents richer today than he was a month ago!)

*Note: Despite the rather facetious tone of this post, we recognize that the haiku is an elegant and time-honored art form. A good haiku is like a perfect photograph—beautiful, spare, and often startling. We are looking, then, for serious haikus as well as silly ones. In fact, as an added incentive, all haikus submitted to this contest will be considered for possible publication in an upcoming issue of Segullah.

About Sharlee

(Editorial Board) has an MA in humanities from Brigham Young University. She taught at BYU for a number of years before giving up academia for the writing life. She has published essays, short stories, articles, and poetry in The Southern Literary Journal, Women's Studies, Irreantum, Wasatch Review International, and BYU Studies. She has also published a novel and three picture books for young readers. Sharlee lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband, their five children, a very literary dog named Kipling, an escape-artist cat named Houdini, and a stuck-up beta fish named Flame.

16 thoughts on “Haiku Away!

  1. Loku
    (really bad haiku)
    by Rick Walton

    First come the long rains,
    Then the fire of the sun, and
    Fried worms on the walk.

    After seventeen
    Comes eighteen and then nineteen
    And then comes twenty.

    I run down the road,
    And then darkness. Just darkness.
    FIX THESE DARN POTHOLES!

    Oh, supercali,
    Oh, fragilistic expi,
    Oh, alidocious.

    Oh rutabaga,
    Oh, oh, rutabaga, oh,
    Oh, rutabaga

    Penguin knocks three times.
    That’s the signal. I let him
    Out of the freezer.

    Robin in the tree
    Sings its song and doesn’t see
    The cat behind it.

  2. Holy Friday in Loja

    Black cloths drape storefronts
    empty stone streets echo, mourn:
    Virgen* statues weep.

    I never really experienced Holy Friday as such until my mission. Growing up in Utah, I had no idea how the Catholic world shuts down to mourn. My companion and I offended an investigator by wishing her a “Happy Holy Friday.” “It’s not a happy day,” she corrected us. “We are sad today, thinking of Jesus.”

    *”virgen” is the correct spelling in Spanish.

  3. The Once Healthy Soup
    (or lunch for a two-year old)

    He says, “More cheese please!”
    So I dump the parmesean
    on the lentil soup.

    Maybe I should find a new muse…how about dirty diapers?!

  4. Soft breezes caress;
    Purest joy provided by
    my electric fan.

    Too many choices!
    My mind reels as I stare down
    The cereal aisle.

    Elegant? Sparse? Spare?
    Despair! I am too verbose
    To pen a Haiku.

    The muse awakens,
    promises inspiration,
    then falls back asleep.

    Goodbye!

    P.S. Rick Walton is too good at this kind of stuff! Can’t he be disqualified or something? He did win the last contest, after all. ;-)

    P.P.S. Someday I’m going to try writing something serious!

  5. Wow! These are great. Keep ‘em coming.

    (I’ve already informed Rick Walton that he’s too good and that he must learn to share the glory and honor (and the 50 cent cash awards). So his haiku (or, rather, loku) are for your reading pleasure only and will not be considered as contenders in the competition.)

  6. The roadside gum trees
    Twist their branches heavenwards
    Like unvoiced heart prayers

    and

    My world of too much
    Must be fought until conquered –
    Right after dessert.

    =)

  7. Vrooom vrooom. Vroom vroom vrooooooooom.
    Sharlee rides down the street on
    Her motorcycle.

    Hmmm. For some reason, the only poetry I can come up with is about Sharlee and a Harley… ;-)

  8. Gnarly, Kati.:-)

    Keep em’ coming, folks. Remember, the deadline is tomorrow, Tuesday, April 10, at midnight (MST). The winning entry will be announced Wednesday morning.

  9. When my sister invited friends to write poetry in honor of Groundhog Day, I wrote this.

    Emerge from burrow
    see not the cold grey shadow
    and promise us spring

    When I extended the invitation on my blog, Darlene cracked me up with this one:

    Be wise, tawny friend
    I need spring. If you fail me
    rodent is roadkill.

  10. Thank you, all, for your entries. Once again, our panel of distinguished judges had a very difficult time making a decision. But after a long, sleepless night, they are ready to announce the winners of the 2007 Segullah Haiku Contest.

    In the category of Light Haiku, we have two winners:

    Too many choices!
    My mind reels as I stare down
    The cereal aisle

    and

    My world of too much
    Must be fought until conquered –
    Right after dessert.

    And in the category of High Haiku, we also have two winners:

    The roadside gum trees
    Twist their branches heavenwards
    Like unvoiced heart prayers

    and

    Holy Friday in Loja

    Black cloths drape storefronts
    empty stone streets echo, mourn:
    Virgen* statues weep.

    And, of course, the unrivaled master of the Loku (really bad Haiku) is Sir Rick Walton. But that goes without saying (and also without reward in this case–but that’s just because Rick won our last contest and was thus declared ineligible for this one).

    Congratulations to our winners. All four of the winning entries will be considered for publication in an upcoming issue of Segullah. Authors will be contacted privately.

    Thanks again, and keep honing your craft. There’s always next year!

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