Observing and Responding: Haikus

I’ve just started teaching a high school creative writing class, something I very much enjoy. One of the first things we’re doing is looking at condensed poetry forms in an attempt to understand meter, rhythm, and the importance of choosing words carefully. I took my students into the blinding cold and had them simply observe, for ten minutes, the physical world around them and write a haiku about it. It was pretty cute to see them all staring intently and earnestly at trees and bushes; I was so much inspired by it that I penned my own (nontraditional) haiku:

Leaves shiver

Students exhale thin clouds

into the frigid air.


I love the way haikus teach the writer to focus on the briefest, most microcosmic fraction of a moment. I love that they demand of the writer an economy of words, because every word counts for so much.