EN340 / IN350 Global Haiku Tradition
Dr. Randy Brooks • Spring 2005
Haiku Unit Plan Day 1

Haiku Unit Plan Day 1

Description: Today will be our introduction to haiku. Students will discuss their initial thoughts about the genre and read some haiku selections by George Swede and Matsuo Basho.

Day One

Recognition and appreciation
Lecture - what is haiku?
Read selections in class (written on board)
Swede vs. Basho
Homework: handout of more haiku, pick favorites to discuss tomorrow

Description: Today will be our introduction to haiku. Students will discuss their initial thoughts about the genre and read some haiku selections by George Swede and Matsuo Bash?.

IL.1.C.4e: Analyze how authors and illustrators use text and art to express and emphasize their ideas (e.g., imagery, multiple points of view).
IL.1.C.5d: Summarize and make generalizations from content and relate them to the purpose of the material.
IL.1.C.5e: Evaluate how authors and illustrators use text and art across materials to express their ideas (e.g., complex dialogue, persuasive techniques).
IL.2.A.4a: Analyze and evaluate the effective use of literary techniques (e.g., figurative language, allusion, dialogue, description, symbolism, word choice, dialect) in classic and contemporary literature representing a variety of forms and media.
IL.2.A.4d: Describe the influence of the author's language structure and word choice to convey the author's viewpoint.
IL.4.A.4b: Apply listening skills in practical settings (e.g., classroom note taking, interpersonal conflict situations, giving and receiving directions, evaluating persuasive messages).

Students will discuss their preconceived notions about the genre (respectful participation in class discussion)
Students will read and appreciate haiku by George Swede and Matsuo Bash?
Students will compare Bash? and Swede and determine the difference between American and Japanese haiku

Materials (all materials included in Appendix)
Teacher: selections from Swede and Bash?, notes on haiku, homework packets (haiku selections from America and Japan)
Students: utensils for note taking (pen/pencil, paper, etc.)

Instructional Procedure
We will begin with a brief class discussion in an attempt to determine what (if anything) students already know about haiku. We'll make a list on the board. For example:

They have to be 17 syllables (or simply, they're short)
They are exclusively Japanese
They are about nature
They are boring...etc.

After I have determined what students know (or don't know) about haiku, I will give them a brief lecture on the genre:

A haiku is a short, unrhymed poem that describes a special moment in nature (this is a requirement for the Japanese tradition. As we will see, American haiku do not necessarily follow this particular guideline) that pertains in some way to the human experience. Haiku are very direct and straightforward, though they do have an ambiguous element. That's part of the beauty of the genre - the moment may have one meaning for the writer, but a whole host of meanings for his/her audience. Haiku are very descriptive - they are meant to depict one, specific moment in time that had a particular meaning for the author.

Origins of haiku (written on the board)

In English, haiku are characterized by:

Seventeen or fewer syllables (I personally will not be as strict about this when it comes to students' own writing)
One to four horizontal lines, with three being the norm
A seasonal word (optional; this is a characteristic of Japanese, rather than American haiku)
The present tense (this gives the reader the sense that he/she is actually in the moment with the author)
Objective, concrete images
Juxtaposition of images (or, the "surprise element")

* Most importantly, we must remember that haiku is the plural of itself. "Haikus" is not a word.

Now we will look at a few examples of haiku, both contemporary American and traditional Japanese (George Swede and Matsuo Bash?). I will write the following two haiku on the board:

White chrysanthemum
Catching in one's eye
Nary a speck of dust

Matsuo Bash?

thick fog lifts
I am where I thought I was

George Swede

What are the similarities of these haiku? What are the differences? Without knowing the authors, would you be able to tell the Japanese haiku from the American haiku? We will do a few more examples comparing Swede and Bash?.

In my humble opinion
Hades must be like this, too -
Autumn evening.

Matsuo Bash?

Evening shadows
fill the autumn market -
the unsold duck quacks

George Swede

Let's walk around
To enjoy the scenes of snow
Until I slip and fall!

Matsuo Bash?

in the howling wind
under the full moon
the snowman, headless

George Swede

The sound of hail -
I am the same as before
Like that aging oak

Matsuo Bash?

fierce wind
street sweeper has
another coffee

George Swede

Myriad of things past
Are brought to my mind -
These cherry blossoms!

Matsuo Bash?

young widow
asks for another
fortune cookie

George Swede

I've attempted to pick haiku that speak of the same season, but in very different ways. We will also discuss what makes Swede's haiku more "modern" than Bash?'s.

What kinds of images do these haiku call to mind? Do they cause you to remember anything specific, or just a time or a place? We will hopefully be able to have a good discussion about these haiku. I will have several examples on hand in case some of the early examples are not useful.

Discuss importance of cherry blossoms in Japanese haiku
To the Japanese, the cherry blossoms signify the coming of spring and the end of winter, essentially a time of rebirth. Cherry blossom viewing is a big celebration and generally involves the purchase of a special, more expensive kimono for the evening.

At the end of the hour, students will receive their homework for the night - a collection of haiku by both American and Japanese writers. They should read this packet and pick at least three or four favorites to discuss tomorrow.

Tonight's assessment is informal and comes in the form of the reading packet. Students should read and appreciate this selection of haiku and pick three or four favorites to discuss in class. (Reading assignment included in Appendix)
Again, there is no writing assignment, but students should begin thinking about the subject of the kukai, as well as what they could write haiku about.

No major accommodations should be needed for this lesson, though as mentioned, there will be alternate haiku selections if the initial haiku do not spark discussion.


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Appendix Items (Lesson Handouts)

Appendix 1: Create Your Own Haiku

Appendix 2: Jumpstart Images for Haiku

Appendix 3: George Swede & Matsuo Basho

Appendix 4: Peggy Lyles & Masajo Suzuki

Appendix 5: Seven Point About Writing Haiku

Appendix 6: Sample Haiku from Haiku Anthology

Appendix 7: How to Write a Rengay

Appendix 8: Frog Pond Haiku

Appendix 9: Senryu

Appendix 10: Haiku Pairs

Appendix 11: Season Words

Appendix 12: The Power of Images

Appendix 13: Link Selections

©2005 Randy Brooks, Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois || all rights reserved for original authors
last updated: May 18, 2005