It’s long been my daily practice to play with a well-known form of poetry called haiku, as a way of fostering creative presence. Lately I’ve started posting my haiku on Instagram, accompanied by a photograph or video of that moment, as haiku stories.
Or in Instagram hashtag lingo, #haikustories
I love doing this and aim to do at least one haiku a day on Instagram.
What is Haiku?
A haiku is a micro poem in the Japanese tradition, typically composed of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five, or thirteen syllables, in three lines of thre, seven, and three syllables.
Traditionally, haiku evoke images of the natural world with a seasonal reference, together a kireji, or “cutting word” that creates some sort of break or juxtaposition in the single thought contained by the haiku.
Writing haiku might seem simple but we get it wrong if we think all it takes to make one is to count out the right number of syllables. The craft is in the kireji, the subtle shift in awareness that creates the evocative nature of a great haiku.
Haiku on Instagram: Daily Practice
Go deep enough into any moment in time and you come to the place outside place, the space outside space that I call “the font”. This is the source, the deepest well of creative inspiration for me. (And why my publishing imprint is called Font Publications).
That's where I have to go to write haiku and writing haiku takes me deeper.
A haiku is an act of transcription, a verbal photograph. A moment arises in our consciousness, either spontaneously, or because we decide to notice it. The moment, as it created itself through us by being brought to consciousness, gives us the possibility of poetry.
Through our outer senses (eyes, ears, nose, mouth, skin) and our inner senses (feelings, memory, intuition, imagination, and overall sense of perception) the moment is here–and then expressed through words chosen for their aptness and brevity, and arranged as haiku are arranged.
In this way, the moment is captured and transmitted to the reader.
When haiku happen, it's a witnessing and an act of transcription. Both are watermarked with the perception of the poet. This is true of all writing, but haiku, in their brevity, make it crystal clear.
We capture not just what we've just seen or heard, smelled, tasted or touched but how we've perceived it and from this, we make connections.
Connections between us and the object of our attention, between this object and other objects, between our experience of it and other experiences of other things, different or similar. The haiku holds it all in its tight structure of the fewest, and best, possible words, artfully arranged into 3-7-3, or 5-7-5.
Or some other variation. There are arguments in haiku circles about such matters, but these need not detain us. For we who want to tell haiku stories, the job is simply to choose our form, then observe and express what's happening, now, as the kaleidoscope of life shifts into another moment.
Haiku on Instagram: Stories not Posts
I post inspirational poetry on Instagram almost every day, one day a poem of my own, the next a repost of a poem by another indie poet on the hashtag #indiepoetryplease. In addition, I write haiku, not as posts but as stories.
Instagram describes its Story feature as:
a feature that lets you share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile. As you share multiple photos and videos, they appear together in a slideshow format: your story.
With Instagram Stories, you don’t have to worry about over-posting. Instead, you can share as much as you want throughout the day — with as much creativity as you want. The photos and videos will disappear after 24 hours and won’t appear on your profile grid or in feed.
The transitory nature of Stories makes it the perfect vehicle for publishing haiku, I feel, respecting the ephemeral, evanescent nature of this kind of poetry.
The pages of a book, even this website page or the square immovability of Instagram profile posts, feels too permanent for this art form that is both a goodbye and a hello to each moment.
My Haiku on Instagram
Here are a few recent #haikustories I wrote for Instagram Stories:
flush in November outstaying
leave I sit into warm space
against windows neighbour’s tree
waits for light.
on my daughter’s dress
big sequins mirror circles
the time of bluebells my hand
in your hand.
I love writing #haikustories on Instagram stories.
Your Haiku on Instagram
Now your turn: Capture a moment of creative presence in a haiku story: Write a 3-7-3 haiku.
- Use the syllables to give a short summation of a moment: what you saw, heard, touched, tasted or smelled.
- Turn the moment in time into an image.
- Don’t tell us what happened, show us.
- Don’t tell us how you felt. Trust the images, the sense perception, to hold the emotion.
If you'd like to join in the fun on Instagram, follow the hashtag #haikustories. You can bring your story to life with animated text, filters and drawing tools or just keep it super simple, as befits a haiku. I hope to see you there!
More About Haiku
If you'd like to know more about haiku, I've done a blog post about the form here and I've drafted a book, Writing Haiku: How and Why–though I'm not sure when it will be out, as I've a lot of non-fiction to publish for ALLi, and a novel to complete, first.
To stay informed about my upcoming poetry books, and receive a sample book of my inspirational poetry, sign up here.