Lee Wardlaw is my guest poet poster today.
Your tummy, soft as
warm dough. I knead and knead, then
bake it with a nap.
- pronounced HI-koo
- a non-rhyming form of poetry that originated in Japan during the 9th century
- the shortest form of poetry in the world!
- only three lines long, with a total of 17 syllables: 5 in the first line, 7 in the second, 5 again in the third
- focused on a moment in nature. They also usually feature a kigo or season word
- always written in present tense
- paint a picture in the reader’s mind
- turn an ordinary moment into something extraordinary
- surprise you with a feeling of a-ha! or ahhh…
So what is a Petku?
Simple! It’s a haiku poem written about your pet or favorite animal.
How to Write a Petku
Sit or stand quietly and watch your pet in action: sleeping, playing, eating, running, etc. Pay attention to every detail. (If your pet is not with you, close your eyes and observe a memory of it in action.)
2. Use your Senses
As you observe your pet, think about what you see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. (Think, too, about what your pet might be seeing, hearing, smelling, touching or tasting!)
What kind of mood are you in? Does your pet stir up any emotions within you? What are you feeling? What do you think your pet is feeling?
4. Take Notes
Jot down words to help you remember what you’ve observed and felt.
Describe your pet and what you observed in three short sentences. Write in the present tense, as if the moment is happening right now. Remember to use five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five again in the third line. (If you prefer, you may create a ‘What am I?’ Petku.)
Read your poem aloud several times. Does it paint a picture for the reader? Do you think your reader can see, hear, smell, taste, feel the moment as you do? If not, think of words that are stronger, more vivid, expressive.
Read and revise your poem again and again until you think it’s the best it can be.
Using your best handwriting, write your poem on a sheet of beautiful paper. Then beneath it, draw a picture to illustrate your poem.
Poem above: © Lee Wardlaw, 2011, from Won Ton – A Cat Tale Told in Haiku
illustrated by Eugene Yelchin | Henry Holt BFYR