By Chetachukwu Obiwuma

During the Japanese Plus program, many opportunities are given to us to learn about or pursue our interest in Japanese culture outside of class. One of these opportunities was a haiku competition, sponsored by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, that was meant to serve as a celebration of “Spring in the City.”

Here’s the announcement: https://goldentriangledc.com/initiative/golden-haiku/

The competition piqued my interest as writing is a hobby of mine. However, before I could even think about competing in the program, I first needed to learn more about haikus.

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry in which 17 syllables are organized in lines of 5-7-5. Haiku originates from the hokku which is the opening part of renga, another Japanese writing style that was delivered orally and typically had about 100 stanzas. 1 Haiku gained popularity in the Western Hemisphere as European authors began to translate Japanese works.

Many famous Japanese haiku writers like Issa, Basho and Buson have developed the writing style to become more distinct 1. With these popular artist, haiku became even more prolific in word choice and diction. The translation of their works have given us insight into the literary richness ingrained in this writing style. The subtle talks of nature or the ability to create ominous moods using five syllables only furthers the great impact that haiku has had on western literature.

For me, haikus are quite peculiar. As poetry is a way to express yourself, it seems that sometimes you can’t stop sharing and sometimes you have nothing to say at all. Through me trying to enter a haiku competition, I’ve found the use of the 17 syllable limitation to be quite freeing. It stops the problem of oversharing or having nothing to talk about at all. It gives you a set limit and does not make you want to drag on your feelings. The format of a haiku gives a form of freedom through its selected format.

This is a short haiku written by me.

Bringing Shivers
Shivers down my spine
Aching all time while your
Eyes send out shivers


1“Haiku (or Hokku).” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/haiku-or-hokku.

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