Welcome to the PAGC haiku writing and editing workshop web
anthology. Eight gifted students (fourth grade throught sixth
grade) from Decatur area schools participated in this haiku writing
and editing workshop on March 27, 1999.
The primary purpose of this workshop was to introduce students
to a visual thinking approach to writing, based on images and
associations from their own memories. Haiku is a poetry of perceptions,
so it has a powerful impact on the reader's memory. The natural
result of reading haiku is to remember similar situations and
feelings and, of course, to write those memories down as new
The workshop begins with students closing their eyes and imagining
the moment and feelings of various haiku by famous American haiku
writers. For example, what do you imagine when you close your
eyes to "envision" this well-known haiku by James Tipton:
the sun coming up . . .
in the iron skillet
Images appeal to the senses. What colors do you see in this
haiku? How did you know the skillet was black? What can you hear?
Can you taste the eggs cooking in the skillet? Is it cold at
dawn, and why do you feel the warmth of the stove or fire?
By imagining and discussing haiku, the students begin to understand
that if you use images in your writing, you don't have to explain
as much to the reader. The images contain rich details such as
colors, touch, smells and sounds without even using words such
as "red", "warm" or "beautiful".
The second major realization about haiku is that each haiku
is about a single instant in time, and that each haiku is written
about a specific place. This is important because each haiku
must establish a mood or atmosphere, a feeling that we associate
with being in a certain place. To write haiku, the students were
asked to imagine being as a specific location, then we gathered
up possible images that might be seen, heard, smelled, tasted
or felt at that location. We wrote haiku from these collected
Finally, students also want to know about the form of haiku.
I asked them how many syllables in haiku, and one of them invariably
gets it right--there are two syllables in the word haiku. I stress
that haiku are usually made up of two fragments, two images that
are placed next to each other. Haiku are not sentences. They
are two images unified through an instant in time and a particular
place. Sentences are too complete and leave nothing for the imagination
of the reader. Haiku are imaginative "jump starts"
inviting you to complete the scene that the writer begins.
The workshop concluded with an intensive editing and publishing
session, to improve the haiku and gather them into this web anthology.
--Randy M. Brooks
March 30, 1999