Writing Haiku

Volunteer Photography Corps Project by Mary Edeburn

Composing haiku poetry is an easy but powerful way to enhance your visits to the Duke Forest.  Walking, running, and biking strengthen your body.  Haiku engages your mind, increases your attention to nature, and lifts your spirits. 

The rules are simple and can be relaxed if you choose.

  1. Traditionally, these short poems focus on nature, but themes and humor are fine too.
  2. Poets try to capture a moment in time with both richness and simplicity.
  3. Haiku are 3 lines of usually un-rhymed words totaling 17 syllables.
  4. The syllable pattern is: 5 on first line, 7 in second line, 5 in the last line.

The tools needed are simple too:

Pen/pencil and slip of paper in a shirt pocket will do.  Some just compose in the mind to record later.  Fingers are perfect for counting off the syllables. 

Noticing what your senses pick up or using prompts like “I notice… I wonder… It reminds me of…” can help with creative brainstorming.

Don’t worry about perfection.  What’s important is what’s happening in your brain and in your spirit.  Add to your enjoyment by including kids in your outing or hiking with a friend then exchanging haiku. Include haiku in cards or messages you send. Save your haiku. A collection of a loved one’s poems is a unique, priceless treasure.

Haiku is a also great first-step into Nature Journaling but can stand alone.  Both practices not only benefit us, but also the natural world around us:

What we don’t notice
we cannot love.  What we love
we seek to protect.

Haiku Resources/Links

Use your favorite search engine to find more resources targeted to your needs.


North Carolina Haiku Society

Haiku society of America

The Haiku Foundation – International with wide range of topics including school curricula.


Creative Writing Now – How to Write a Haiku

Writing and Enjoying Haiku – A Hands-on Guide

The Last Poems of an American Icon

Famed writer Richard Wright found meaning and solace in last months of life thru writing hundreds of haiku. An example of the power of haiku and attention.


Write Your Own HaikuOne of many books about haiku written for young people

Teacher Created Material – Kwame AlexanderTeaching Kids Ingredients of a Poem

Teaching Kids Haiku

The touring teacher: Haiku Poems For Kids Includes understanding syllables in haiku

A Cat Named Haiku | Animated ShortStorytelling with haiku

Haiku Master Class for KidsHaiku in the context of writing and creativity

Nature Journalers

Nature Journal Connection Episode 35 – Writing poems in your nature journal.

How to Teach Nature Journaling – John Muir LawsKindle version also available

Also available from JMLaws in print – or as a FREE download

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