Right from the start Dr. Brooks just told us to write, no structure, no syllable counting, no rules whatsoever. I thought this was a little strange, but if I wasn’t given rules or instructions to follow I certainly wasn’t going to go looking for them. However, my first haiku for the course still all seemed to lack something. I was still only writing about nature and its appearance. Mostly I was just writing a sentence about nature and placing spaces where I thought they might sound nice.
It wasn’t until we read Almost Unseen which is a collection of haiku and senryu by George Swede that I was finally inspired to write haiku with more emotion. Swede’s haiku often include human elements especially his senryu, which focus on human nature. The thing I liked most about Swede’s haiku was not just their human element but they often contained words that would either completely shock you or make you think about some of the less-enjoyable aspects of life.
Moreover, I read Swede’s definition of a good haiku. According to Swede a good haiku needs to be a short but complete thought, contain sensory images, contain a sense of nature, . . . (Swede and Brooks, Global Haiku). I think Swede’s definition of the elements of a good haiku meets all the essentials and adds some structure to writing haiku but also leaves the author room for their own expression and talent. Later in the course I read haiku with similar subjects as Swede’s by other authors, but it was Swede’s haiku and the enthusiasm of Dr. Brooks class that taught me not only how to read and right haiku, how much I enjoyed it as well. —Corinne Cullina
Corinne Cullina is a chemistry major biology minor and in pre-pharm. She grew up in a small suburb on the border of Chicago.