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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mark your calendar for the launch party of the summer issue of Philadelphia Stories, Junior: Saturday, May 12, from 3-5pm at Musehouse Center for the Literary Arts on Germantown Ave. Hope to see you there!


If you are a poet, or even if you’re not, one good way to enrich your writing is to practice with different forms. One very easy form of poetry you can practice is Haiku. Haiku was a poetry form invented in ancient Japan. It was composed of three lines of five morae, or sound units, followed by a line of seven morae with a final line of five morae. The theme of Haiku is usually nature, or the poet’s reaction to something he sees in nature. Traditionally, the season is always named in a haiku poem.

On a withered branch
A crow has alighted:
Nightfall in autumn
-Basho

The morae count of this poem does follow the five-seven-five pattern in Japanese, though it doesn’t translate exactly in English. When poets began writing haiku in English, they used syllable counts of five-seven-five. Many poets nowadays write haiku in a free verse style, and consider a haiku to be simply a short, two or three line poem. Usually, nature is still the theme.

juncos black
silhouettes in birch trees
notes on a tangled clef
-David Christy

Icy spring waters
Calls to mind my love; Sitting
Under the pale moon

-Olivia Ferdig

Another fun thing to do with haiku is to pass it along to a friend, and have them write a couplet (or two lines) of seven syllables each. Tack this on to the end of the haiku and this makes a stanza. Then you pass the poem on to another friend or two and have them each alternate by writing a haiku and a couplet. Now you have created a renku. But be careful. A renku is made up of thirty six stanzas, and it may take you a while to get through it. And while you’re at it, don’t forget that you must mention the moon in stanza five and cherry blossoms in stanzas seventeen and thirty five. Myself, I was in a renku group for a couple of years and I don’t think we ever managed to finish one. But still, it is good practice for making your writing richer and you may be surprised what you come up with.

-Teresa Sari FitzPatrick