Tag Archives: haiku

The Wednesday Five

In case you haven’t seen it already, Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy has written a hilarious poem in rhyming couplets called “The ABCs of Skepticism”.  Jonathan Swift, eat your heart out!

In this week’s Five, I wanted to focus on poetry tools instead of poetry databases.  The sites I’ve listed are excellent resources for helping writers, readers, and teachers to deal with complex poetic issues.

1. Wikisaurus
A little known off-shoot of the vast Wikipedia project, Wikisaurus is one of the best online thesauri out there.  I’ve got nothing against Roget’s, but the interactive nature of a wiki fits the idea of a thesaurus perfectly.  It’s like asking thousands of your closest friends, “What another word for…?”

2. Wordle
Wordle Logo

Wordle is a great site for creating “word clouds” out of your own text.  This can be great for spicing up an otherwise serious topic.  A friend of mine used a cloud from Wordle as a title page for her project on literary freedom in Iran.  Also I think that it’s important for poets to never forget that although we deal in words, much of our art is visual in some ways.  Plus, this tool is just plain fun to use!  Here’s a really great anonymous one about Spring:

3. Poetry Forge

Above is a picture of a a great flash poetry tool for metaphor, but Poetry Forge is chock full of a variety of resources for both students and teachers.  Run by the University of Virginia, this site is well-maintained and straightforward: perfect for when you start to feel bogged down by poetic challenges.

4. readwritethink
Learning Beyond the Classroom

Not to be confused with last week’s excellent readwritepoem, this site is a fantastic reading and writing guide from the International Reading Association.  Geared specifically toward education and making poetry work for teachers and students in and out of the classroom, this site is recommended especially for those of you who instruct poetry in some way.

5. twiHaiku
TwiHaiku - Twitter Poetry, the new art of words

Alright, so I’ll admit that this site doesn’t fit with today’s theme, but it fit with last Monday’s post, and I can’t go another week without mentioning it.  This pretty amazing project is part of the makeliterature.com network, a social website that offers itself up as a self-publishing medium.  With your own makeliterature account, you can submit haiku to the twiHaiku site by simply typing it into the right box, just like tweeting yourself.  Your haiku is then displayed on the @twiHaiku Twitter account.  What this creates is a network of dedicated haiku poets who collaborate to provide the Twitter community with a steady stream of original poetry.  If you can’t already tell, I’m simply brimming with excitement about this project, and watching it grow has been great fun!

And that’s it for today.  I’d like to finish by asking a question to all the poetry teachers out there: what are your favorite resources for getting your students excited about poetry?



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The Advent of the American Haiku

It’s pretty hard to turn around on the web today without running around, stepping over, or bumping into a haiku. These short, three line poems are quickly becoming ubiquitous, and one of the internet’s favorite forms of poetic expression. I know I’ve commented before on this subject, but I think it’s worth taking a closer look.

Haiku, as you may know, are short Japanese poems, originally and more correctly known as hokku. They traditionally feature a single image, glorifying nature or using the natural world as a metaphor in some way. They are meditative and to-the-point. The writing of Japanese haiku is as careful and methodical an artform as the practice of bonsai. As Wikipedia is eager to tell us, the English-language form of the haiku is much less defined than its Asian predecessor, ranging anywhere from 10-14 syllables. A set number of syllables per line is encouraged but not required. The haiku is a very accessible foreign form of poetry, and as such has gotten wide play in America and other countries with a strong emphasis on cultural diversity in the last several decades. I, like many others, was first introduced to them in elementary school.

The internet, however, has redefined haiku, just as it’s redefined newspapers, phone calls, and pizza delivery. Somewhere along the way, internet poets, amateur and professional alike, have taken haiku and morphed into something new: something that’s both uniquely American and tech-savvy. Because they are short and relatively easy to produce, haiku are now the poem of choice to express the every day, from random spurts of thought on Twitter to hilarious and creative error messages. The contemplative and naturalistic nature of haiku has been replaced by the technological, the delightfully mundane, and the American sense that a poem can be anything it wants to be.

What we see now each day online is the beginning of a new era of popularity for haiku, both in reading and writing. This ancient form of poetic expression is having a renaissance right before our very eyes. Enjoy it while it lasts!

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Introduction and Example

There’s a lot of poetry on the internet. So much, in fact, that people are finally beginning to sit up and take notice. But the truly interesting thing is beyond that a bit: poetry doesn’t sit idly by as a new medium comes into its own. Like a scrappy bacterium, poetry evolves, adapts, and takes on a new shape to fit its new environment. All over the internet, new forms of poetry are taking shape, and old ones are finding new homes.

Take one of the oldest forms of poetry as an example: the haiku. These beauties of brevity have been around for quite a while, and I’m sure many of you remember working out the 5-7-5 syllable structure in grammar school. But lately these tiny verses have found an internet niche. The popular social networking site Twitter, which has a 140-character limit for all posts, abounds with posts as haiku. If you search Twitter for “#haiku” you’ll be deluged with folks who find that this particularly poetic art-form has them all… well… atwitter. There are even Twitter accounts, like @haiQ, that only post in haiku form.

Twitter users took
A most ancient form of verse
And crafted it anew

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