Today I thought I might talk about the evolution of a haiku.

Sometimes they just arrive more or less fully formed, don’t they? When that doesn’t happen I often write down the scene I am thinking about.

Why do I find that useful?

  • It helps to pull out what you think is important to communicate in the poem

  • It gives you options. If the idea you’re working on doesn’t work for you, you can look at that scene again and see if something else will work

  • Sometimes, when you read your scene, there are more haiku or senryu to be found… bonus!

So this poem is about a little scene I saw at a party many moons ago. A summer party. Adults mostly drinking alcohol.  A house with a big garden,  if you were at the far end of the garden you had some privacy. Lots of people, only one toilet…catching a gentleman urinating on the hedge.

I wrote this:

hot night
he sprinkles his DNA
on the privet

It is a little naughty, probably not reaching the vulgarity of an ancient Japanese renga verse, although some might disagree.

I’m pleased with line 2 and 3. It has, if you will excuse the pun, a flow. I’m enjoying the  repetition of ‘pr’. There is of course a but…

But I don’t care for line one. It is probably seasonal, but so bland, don’t you think?

rose moon;
he sprinkles his DNA
on the privet

I like that one better. It’s seasonal AND it adds colour and perhaps a little more depth to the poem.

However, I continued to think about it.

too much sangria
he sprinkles his DNA
on the privet

Now the first line speaks to me of a loss of control through alcohol and at least to me sangria is a summer drink. I still don’t think it’s right though. Privet hedges and Sangria, they don’t belong together in my own experience. No, I don’t think so.

I looked again at the scene. Alcohol plays a part in the poem as well as the man and the privet. Do I need a seasonal image in the first line? Perhaps not.

beer and whiskey chasers
he sprinkles his DNA
on the privet

If I reject my rose moon version, this might be an option.

Can I take the word chasers out of the 1st line? Yes, but it changes the notion of the poem. Beer and whiskey chasers suggests, at least to me what the man was drinking, whereas if I take the word chasers out it suggests that there was beer and whiskey at the venue, it’s a bit vague. I think for the moment I shall leave it in.

The haiku /senryu is evolving. Do you have some thoughts on this poem? Please feel free to share.

Do you have a technique to help you write your haiku or senryu? Do share and I can put together a newsletter to help others.

Thank you all so much for your continued support and for my coffees.
If you’d like to buy the podcast a coffee, you can go the website and click on the link. I’d be very grateful.


the haiku pea podcast