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How We Haiku — Teaching Stories 8

Teaching and Learning Haiku in Community and Classroom: Stories, Challenges, Adventures

Do you teach haiku? In a classroom? An arts foundation? Community education? We want to hear about it. Want some new ideas? A place to vet an old idea before you try it “live”? Community support? How We Haiku — Teaching Stories is a monthly feature wherein we will share the many diverse and interesting ways your bring our favorite genre to your audience. Each month Brad Bennett and Jeannie Martin, co-chairs of The Haiku Foundation Education Committee, will host your stories of how you make haiku come alive for your students, and create an environment where educators can discuss the many challenges faced in bringing a fuller sense of haiku to a culture that knows little more than the stereotypes. Contact us to share your teaching stories, to ask your questions, and to find fellowship with your peers and the rest of the haiku community.

“We cannot teach a person directly, we can only facilitate his or her learning.”
— Carl Rogers

We welcome your comments (scroll down to the bottom of the page). And don’t forget about all the other fine education resources the Foundation has to offer.


This month THF Education Committee co-chairs Jeannie Martin and Brad Bennett share their recollections of haiku poet and educator Jane Reichhold.

Jane Reichhold’s “Bare Bones School of Haiku”

When Jane Reichhold died this summer, the world lost a major figure in the promotion and teaching of English-language haiku. Poet, artist, editor, publisher, and teacher, Jane made huge contributions to the advancement of haiku and related forms.

coming home
by flower

Simple, natural, evocative. A singular observation that appeals to any of us who have walked home noticing the familiar flowers, wild or otherwise, along the street, maybe in between the cracks of a sidewalk, behind a fence, or in someone’s yard.

Truly this well-known haiku by Jane Reichhold is a teaching haiku, showing us how it is done, how to keep it real. I first encountered this poem early in my haiku “education.” I was leafing through books and journals looking for poems to share in my class at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. This poem jumped out: what better way to teach about concrete language, immediacy, and the way a poet can disappear into a poem than this one?

Thank you Jane for all you have given the haiku world, and for all those poems that stay with us and that we return to when we want to read “the real thing”.


When I first began studying the craft seriously about six years ago, Jane Reichhold’s book, Writing and Enjoying Haiku: A Hands-on Guide (New York: Kodansha International, 2002) was one of the most helpful guides that I encountered. Her delineation of the two parts of a haiku, the “fragment” and the “phrase,” became very effective for me as I explored the intricacies of the juxtaposition of images. She also included a “checklist for revising haiku” that I used as I began to hone my craft. In addition, Jane outlined twenty-four “valuable techniques” that she utilized in her own writing. I used this list as I read haiku by historical Japanese masters and contemporary English-language poets to better understand how they created successful poems. Jane later revised and augmented this list up to thirty-three techniques in an appendix to her book Basho: The Complete Haiku (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2008).

Jane was certainly devoted to teaching the world about the haiku form. Besides writing the aforementioned guide, she also created a website devoted to haiku and related poetry forms ( in 1995. Included in this website are links to her “Bare Bones School of Haiku,” in which she offers fourteen lesson plans for haiku teachers, with lessons like “Haiku Basics,” “Finding Haiku,” “The Phrase and a Fragment,” “Verbs in Haiku,” “Nature-Nature and Human Nature,” and “Finding Your Own Rules of Haiku.” Many of these lessons seem like they would be very helpful for teachers of adults and teens. Her website also includes links to articles on how to write haiku, an “Ask Jane” section, and other resources on tanka, renga, and sijo. I have sent the link to this website to new haiku poets who want to learn more about the “bare bones” of the form.

The Haiku Foundation Digital Library includes a bunch of Jane’s articles. Among them are “Fragment and Phrase Theory” and “Haiku Techniques.” I encourage you to take a look at these articles and her website. Thank you, Jane, for your major contributions to the field of haiku. You helped this writer and, I am certain, many other haiku poets as we explored this rewarding form.


This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thanks, Brad, for pointing out “Bare Bones” at! I love Jane’s humble, simple, clear, gentle writing style.

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