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Workshop on Kigo

Try this: Assign the group a common kigo word or phrase. It may appear anywhere in the haiku. For this example we will use “summer’s end.”

Next assign the following three “rules”:

  • three lines
  • 10 or fewer words
  • 11-13 syllables
  • Before the students actually start writing provide examples:

    faded paper fan
    on the windowsill
    summer’s end
    Amy Aderman

    the foul ball lands
    in an empty seat
    summer’s end

    Tom Painting

    summer’s end
    sun-bleached sand dollars
    on the deck rail

    Connie Donleycott

    summer’s end
    the boat lies sideways
    on a mound of sand

    John W. Wisdom

    With the exception of one of the above haiku, all fall within the writing practice parameters. A survey of published English language haiku will more often than not reveal the same economy of words and syllables.

    After students have written to the assigned kigo, have a reading of their work and a discussion about the sights, smells, sounds and activities that signal the end of summer.

    Once a particular seasonal word phrase (kigo) has been explored broaden the discussion by asking students about other observations they have made or things they have experiences synonymous with the season as a whole. Again, focus on concrete images.

    The following haiku were written by 8th grade students:

    summer cottage
    the bullfrog
    slips my grasp

    Emily Cornish

    summer breeze
    the flutter of clothes
    thrown over a chair

    Laura Santiago

    summer dusk
    throwing stones
    through a broken window

    Travis Moore


    We hope this lesson is a fun addition to your program and welcome your feedback!

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