Why Do You Write Haiku?

Why do you write haiku?

I recently asked this question to longtime haikuists from throughout the U.S. They are members of the Haiku Society of America.

If you read my blog regularly, you have read many examples of haiku, and you’ve also read interviews with haiku poets.

I hope these blogs have given you inspiration to begin writing haiku.

Please read below for more inspiration:

In this fast-fleeting world, I find the moment even more momentous. Writing a haiku that captures the wonder of time in my own words and thought is a tiny miracle of gratitude.
–Donna Bauerly

The reason I write haiku is what I would guess most people would say is their reason. To set down a marker for the really important things in my life. A walk in the woods is so much better to focus on than memorializing your fears about a global financial meltdown, or a terrorist attack, or the coming hurricane, etc.

Mike Rehling

I write haiku/senryu in an attempt to capture a moment. When I later read it, it takes me back to that time and place. If I read
someone else’s haiku or senryu, it sometimes brings me to that place and time.

–Bruce J. Pfeffer

I write haiku for several reasons. Many of my haiku derive from my experiences on the road (to or from work). I can manage to put down my feelings in a short space (and still remember them). I like the brevity of haiku and how they can say so much with just a few words. When I read my own, I can return to that moment and recall the beauty. When I read others, I can still capture that moment in my mind, even if it may not have been the intent of the poet.

–nancy brady, author of “Ohayo Haiku”

Haiku is a poetic form that is both a literary and a spiritual exercise for me. I also enjoy the social aspect of writing haiku, such as being a member of a local kukai, Hudson Valley Haiku-kai, and participating in the haiku community as a member of the Haiku Society of America.

–Sari Grandstaff

I write haiku because of the joy I get from paying attention and noticing what’s going on around me and within me. I feel each day offers gifts of insight and moments worthy of contemplation or prayers of thanksgiving. I feel more alive when I am writing haiku!

–Randy Brooks, Author of “School’s Out”

I write haiku for the same reason that I write prose: because I must. For me, writing for publication is as integral as breathing.

–John J. Dunphy
Author of “Old Soldiers Fading Away” (Pudding House, 2006); “Stellar Possibilities” (Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2006); “Zen Koanhead” (Second Reading Publications, 2008) and “Dark Nebulae” (Sam’s Dot Publishing, 2009)

I write haiku because it fits my East Asian disposition and takes much less time to compose than other forms of poetry. The shortness of the form makes it hard to write a successful haiku, yet it is a relatively accessible form for every aspiring poet.

–John J. Han
Author of “Little Guy Haiku: Life with Bailey, a Maltese”; “Chopsticks and Fork: A Senryu Collection”; “Thunder Thighs: Haiku Musings on the English Language”; and “The World of Dew: Seasonal Haiku” (forthcoming).

I write haiku because it helps me remember the interconnectedness of all things. It keeps me respectful, grateful and humble.

–Terri L. French,
Author of “A Ladybug on My Words”

I write haiku because it slows me down, and allows me to appreciate life. Haiku represents a contemplative alternative in strict juxtaposition to a world where speed and urgency seem to be the dominant paradigm.

–Joshua Gage
Author of “breaths” (VanZeno Press)

Recognizing haiku moments and writing haiku to convey them creates balance in my life by encouraging me to be attentive to different moments I experience.

–Ce Rosenow

Author of “North Lake”
and “Pacific”

I write haiku for memorializing a moment, yes, for therapy, yes, as a form of necessity, yes, to stop the flow of my mind, yes, yes…
but more importantly, I write haiku because I couldn’t imagine life without it.

— Marjorie Buettner
Author of “Seeing It Now” (published by Red Dragonfly Press, Northfield, MN, 2008)

A lovely question…
Each haiku, tanka, haibun, tanka prose that I read or write briefly illuminates both the moment and the way forward…

–Marilyn Hazelton,
Editor, “red lights”

I was already interested in haiku when I went off to Japan to major in Far East Asian Studies. My interest in Japanese literature and poetry was my main draw into haiku. Then, I was inspired by my colleague, haiku poet David Burleigh at
Ferris University in Yokohama. In early 1997, my mother passed away in America. That
spring I began to write haiku almost daily as I watched spring’s rebirth in my day to day surroundings in Kamakura. This helped me to heal little by little.

I think the combination of writing, reading and being in touch with other haiku poets has been the reason I made it a major part of my life. It has been refreshing to create haiku and be inspired by other poets. As I transitioned from Japan to America, one thing has been constant: Haiku friends in other countries, in my region, on FB and through email groups, and at conferences. What a subtle, creative way to interact within our minds and hearts, and with our hands in unison.

–Carmen Sterba

I became interested in haiku when Jim, my husband, and Don Eulert, who also taught at the University of Wisconsin, started “American Haiku.” Jim became interested in haiku when he was med-evacuated from Korea and was hospitalized in Japan. A Japanese ward boy who spoke English introduced it to him. Over the years I have written haiku. As I become older, it seems more imperative that I record those moments that are so special to me. Maybe I’m afraid of losing them. I want them to always be with me.

–Gayle Bull

Practicing haiku awareness is to enter into that altered state of being where connections deepen and epiphanic moments are revealed. I write haiku in response to those moments, attempting to convey through words an intuitive perception that ultimately expands beyond the words.


I hope you’ve enjoyed the thoughtfulness of these poets and their statements on how haiku enriches their lives.

Why do I write haiku, you ask? I began writing it in the 1990s, when my life went from crazy to insane. Now, my life has returned to crazy. Haiku helps me focus on living in the moment, without thinking too far into the future to what will happen in my life. It’s that simple or complex, depending on how you look at life.

Best wishes to all haikuists everywhere!

Copyright 2011 by Charlotte Digregorio.

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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12 Responses to Why Do You Write Haiku?

  1. Jim Sullivan says:


    I found this post fascinating. This was a great idea and I truly learned from some of these thoughtful comments. I am coming back to this post for inspiration and for balance in the way forward. Thank you.


  2. snowbirdpress says:

    Since I came to haiku from art it was a matter of translation. A drawing or a painting leaves the viewer with the viewer’s own ideas and feelings, so I wanted to see if I could inject the motive behind the art. For me, words are a puzzle…they still are. I am quite mystified often at why people react to certain words as they do….often with very strong reactions too. Haiku seemed to offer a means of learning how to be concise….how to think of a line as I would in a drawing. It’s a very interesting investigation for me.

  3. Write haikus for joy
    to vex your brain and more.
    Oh the stories to tell.

  4. Wonderful comment, Merrill! More artists should write haiku, just like you.

  5. Pingback: Across the Haikuverse, No. 23: Back to School Edition « Red Dragonfly

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Melissa! I hope people who read my blog will read your daily blog, http://www.haikuproject.wordpress.com. No one can possibly keep up with your comprehensive, daily haiku information and musings on everything haiku and other related Japanese poetic forms. Your information is like a college education in haiku. Please keep it up, despite your rigorous schedule! Best of luck for the coming year in graduate studies!

  6. fipplepop says:

    I came here because the title looked promising. I have long wondered why people write Haiku in English. First, just to make sure that we’re talking about the same thing here is a definition that I just copied: a three-line format with 17 syllables arranged in a 5–7–5 pattern;[2][a][6][7][8] or about 10 to 14 syllables,[9][10] which more nearly approximates the duration of a Japanese haiku[11] with the second line usually the longest.

    If that’s what you mean by Haiku, my question is, “Why”? What is the appeal? Is it just the challenge of making the syllables in words match the artificial mathematical structure? I mean, would poems with lines of 8, 4, and 7 syllables be just as pleasing/satisfying? How about 3, 9 and 2? How about any combination? Why 5-7-5? Why not 23 syllables? 14? 26? Well, you get the idea, Why the three-line 17 syllable structure? Of course, the same applies to the Sonnet. Why 14 lines? Is it just custom or is there a reason for that particular structure? Is composing a 17- syllable 3-line Haiku comparable to solving Rubick’s Cube?

    • Dear Fiddlepop, if you read The Daily Haiku closely, you’ll realize that in English, very few poets write in the 5-7-5 pattern. We mostly write free-form haiku so that we don’t end up padding our lines with unnecessary words. We also write haiku with one, two, three, four or even about eight lines. The appeal of writing free-form haiku for me is its brevity. You can say so much in so few words. Please let us know if you find any value to the daily postings. Personally, I think it is fun and challenging to say something insightful in an imagistic form. It allows a reader to formulate an image. This is like the reaction that one gets from looking at a painting.

  7. peggybilbro says:

    I just discovered this post as I was browsing through your blog, and was captured by the question and the answers. It has made me ask myself, why do I write haiku/Senryu/tanka or any poetic form. I have come to haiku from years of writing longer form poetry, and have found that I enjoy the challenge of being as concise as possible, cutting out the froufrou words to reach for the essence of the image or moment. But as with all poetry, as the poem begins forming in my mind, there is an increasing tension that is finally released when I put the poem down on paper (or screen). It may not be a fine poem or a finished poem but that release of tension is a wonderful feeling….perhaps like petals when the bud opens, or the butterfly when it escapes its cocoon.

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