Teaching Tips: Selected Haiku by Issa
- What are some of the human elements and natural elements in each of these haiku? Tease out multiple meanings or implications of the way these two fit—or don't quite fit—together.
- Some haiku contain season words, meant to imply the time of year. (In Japan, one can buy books that list these, specifically for writing haiku.) What words suggest a season to you, whether they are drawn from nature or seasonal activities, like holidays or sports? Which of your choices are fairly obvious and which are more personal?
- Haiku are a "democratic" form of poetry. In Japan, writing them is an activity that everyone does, either on their own or in groups, responding to other people's haiku. Also, when exploring everyday moments, writers often borrow lines from or respond to other haiku. Can you borrow a first line from one of these poems and write a new one? Or you might try writing a haiku that pictures the moment just before or after one of Issa's poems. For example, what made the speaker of the first haiku think of the spider?
- Try "boiling down" a memorable sentence or paragraph into a haiku. Remember, there's no need to stick to a fixed number of syllables.
- Finally, you might look at recent American haiku written by Jack Kerouac and Richard Wright to see how others have adopted the form.