Intimidated. Why not write Haiku?

classic poetry haiku jean schneider national poetry month sestina Apr 26, 2023

By Carol Woolum Roberts

In my attempts at poetry this month, Exercise 14 challenged me to write a Classic Poem.  I chose a type of poem I had never heard of before.  And I hit a wall, a block.  Okay, this type of poem really intimidated me.  So I did a detour, and veered toward one more familiar.

Here was the next exercise that Jean Schneider posed in her book “The Writer as an Artist”.


Exercise 14

The Classic Poem

Choose a classic form of poetry, sonnet, haiku, sestina,--and write a poem within that form.  Or take as your model a familiar old song.

Write something in the form you’ve chosen, noticing matters of craft.

You may learn about using rhyme, near rhyme, particular stanza forms, and such matter, by this kind of literal following of existing forms.


In my poetry journal I wrote this:

I am going to take on the challenge of the Sestina.  Should I delve into the more uncomfortable parts of my past?

A few days later, I wrote this:

Okay, the Sestina has intimidated me.  So I am moving on to Haiku.


I am not totally giving up on the Sestina.  But I was more familiar with Haiku and felt like I could make a few attempts at writing this form of poetry this week.  So I did.

In case you were unaware, here are the rules for structuring a Haiku.

  1. It has three lines.
  2. It has five syllables in the first and third lines.
  3. It has seven syllables in the second line.
  4. Its lines don’t rhyme.


I tried to write Haiku poetry about what I have observed in the world around me.

Here are some attempts at Haiku.



Black raven hovers

          Swoops and dives with feathered friend

Against the grey sky



Movement on green grass

          Cat slinks to hunt small field mouse

Prey tossed toward the sun



Flakes cover flower

          Bowed down by cold, frosty snow

Yearning for sunshine



Curious dog sniffs

          Dog nose communication

Her pee mail was read



Temperatures rise up

          Snow begins to soften, melt

River rising soon



Morning wakeup call

          Birds sing, chatter, warble, screech

A new day begins



Light from east sunrise

          Casting purple and pink hues

Morning has broken


I have not given up on the Sestina poem.  I had never even heard of this type of poem.  But I need to do a little more work on sestinas before I write some.  Maybe by next week, I will have made an attempt.



If you feel so inclined, try and write some kind of Classic Poem this week, during National Poetry Week.

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