Writing Prompt Wednesday: Spotlight on Haiku

Happy Wednesday, everyone. We are back from spring break! Today’s topics are all about finalizing publishing documents, page counts, fact checking, and arguing about whether we should cross-publish pieces here and in the magazine (make your opinions known in the comments, y’all!)

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Professor Jen Sullivan Brych, Carolina and Obo listen to C (off-camera) holding forth

We’re also starting work on some group projects reviewing other literary magazines, because professional development is important.


On to the writing prompt!

Spotlight on Haiku

I know we all learned a very rigid definition of the form when we were in grade school– a three line form with the format of five syllables/seven syllables/five syllables. If you pick up any book of joke haiku, you’ll see this impulse at work.

There are other traditional haiku rules that we don’t talk about as much– writing in the present tense, a “season word,” (kigo) which is a nature image specifying the time of year. Still, many modern poets writing haiku break with the traditional formats– modern haiku, especially, are increasingly unlikely to follow the tradition of 17 syllables or to take nature as their subject.

But the essence of haiku is the juxtaposition of two images or ideas with a kireji (cutting word) or caesura between them, a verbal or visual punctuation mark signaling the moment of separation and relation.

Below are a few famous or Forum staff-written haiku to get you going:

Matsuo Bashō:
In the twilight rain
these brilliant-hued hibiscus –
A lovely sunset

Yosa Buson:
Over-ripe sushi,
The Master
Is full of regret.

Richard Wright:
With a twitching nose
A dog reads a telegram
On a wet tree trunk.

Zach Hauptman (Forum Web Editor):
pilgrimage–
a late afternoon
coffee break

Kriz Natalie Monrose (Forum NonFiction Editor):
madness creeps out and
plays, in and out of the shadows
breaking my mental state

shadows play
on the raven’s wings
in my mind

Alexandra Saba (Forum Assistant Web Editor):
flickering lights shine
through early morning windows
sirens sing their song


Whenever you write a poem, story, take a picture, or create a piece of artwork based on these prompts, you can post it in the comments or submit it to submissions@forumccsf.org for consideration on the Forum Magazine Blog.

Make sure to follow all submission guidelines and in the subject line include “Writing Prompt Wednesday”. In the body of the email, please include the writing prompt you used for your piece.

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