Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Tijjani Muhammad Musa's photo. Haiku is a simple, very short poem of Japanese origin, usually penned to express moments observed with regards to things in nature.

Original Japan haiku is written in a single vertical line, but its English version is usually written as a single stanza of 3 lines, made up of 5-7-5 'on' or syllables to depict each of the 3 basics of necessities of a Japanese traditional haiku.

Traditional version is guided by 3 fundamental rules.

First, the haiku must have an essence by juxtaposing 2 impressions or ideas, related by a cutting word between the images.

Secondly, it must contains 17 on divided into three parts of 5 syllables for line 1, 7 for line 2 and the remaining 5 for the 3rd line.

Finally, it should have a "kigo" or a seasonal reference.

Poem by Fukuda Chiyo-ni:

morning glory!
the well bucket-entangled,
I ask for water.

To understand what an 'on' or syllable is we present a typical example:

"Come into my paradise"

Where the word "Come" is one syllable or sound, "into" are two syllables ("in" and "to"), "my" is another syllable and "paradise" is three syllables or on ("pa-ra-dise").

Modern haiku however do not stick to these basic requirements and so can often be seen not having the 17 syllables count or having nature as its subject matter or part of its theme. Haiku no longer have to be restricted to writing about feelings inspired by nature, but can dwell on other subject matters. It is also part of the observance for haiku to juxtapose things that are involved in our day to day occurrences.

Haiku in English, due to its simplicity have often been used in primary or secondary schools to introduce young minds to poetry, thus encouraging its appreciation and writing.

Multiple haikus are now used to express a full blown poem, where instead of using rhyming or non-rhyming stanza to express a theme, many haikus are employed to replace poetic stanzas. Thus showing the versatility of the poet as a haikuist.

And with the English introducing their version of the original Japanese haiku, would it be any harm if Hausa as an international language of African origin, following the 17 on formula also starts off its own version of a haiku run? We must of essence follow suit and soon Hausa Haiku will become part of accepted international Haiku styles.

Though it might appear simple at first glance or read, writing a sound, articulate and meaningful haiku has proven to be one of the most challenging exercise to many poets. More so, the traditional one. This has made poets who find it difficult to pen a haiku opt for the less demanding modern type.


To ensure we all understand the lesson, there will be 3 parts to Haiku Writing Contest. (i) Traditional/English (ii) Modern and (iii) Hausa Haiku (to explore this possible development.

We will start with:
(i) Write a traditional Japanese haiku in the English style format on any theme (love, friendship, politics, knowledge, health, life, death, nature, seasons etc).

*Employing poetic devices in presentation will be an added edge.

*The most meaningful, yet simple submission, meeting the challenge requirements wins.

*All submissions must be on this thread.

*Deadline for submission is 72 hours from the time of posting this TMMPLS & PTC.

*Judges decision is final.

*A Special Surprise Prize awaits the winner! :)

Tijjani M. M. (c)2015
All Rights Reserved

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