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Haiku - Senryu
(previously published)

Guidelines and Definitions

Links to websites


Workshop review

Haiku ~ Senryu

I was fortunate to be offered, and to complete, an intense mentorship (writing, researching, critiquing and workshopping of haiku for publication) with mentor, John Bird in 2007, and am currently the HaikuOz WA Regional Representative. I also run haiku workshops regularly in WA. My haiku has been widely published nationally and internationally, in such journals as the Heron's Nest, Paper Wasp, Famous Reporter, Stylus Poetry Journal, Haiku Australia Dreaming, FreeExpressions and Creatrix Poetry Journal. I find haiku writing and haiku's awe of nature, to be particularly meditative, healing and inspiring. With the frustration and anger at the continual destruction of the environment, I find haiku is a way of keeping myself calm and in the 'now'.

Haiku ~ Senryu (previously published):

black cockatoos -
the distant rumble
of Harleys

school tuck-shop –
a drone of bees
by the bubblers

passing traffic –
the flicker of bees
among grevillea


ocean swell –
corrugated roof
of the beach shack

mid-summer night -
naked at my computer
the screen flashes back

her graduation –
the strelitzia
stands tall

winter morning -
flame trees
line the street

stormy day -
red beaks through
the reeds                           


paper bark tree –
her flaking sunburnt skin


outback sunset—
embers glowing
under the billy

neighbourhood watch –
dot the suburb

rejection letter –
the willy-wagtail
flicks its tail


midday –
a jet’s contrail
splits the sky

another fall –
the dog licks
her face


school report–
the dog nestles
in my lap

garage sale –
a Rolls Royce
with a roof rack


willy-willy –
a boy speeds past
on a bike

school tuck-shop -
dragonflies hover
by the pond

moving house –
a snake skin
in the shed

hiking alone -
the creak
of karri trees

her early death –
a dog barks
at the swinging gate


first day of summer –
a row of white-barked
gum trees

park bench –
a fly settles
on the fence

night concert -
the waving
of tree shadows

house-hunting –
a dead kangaroo
by the roadside

summer holidays –
a tangled
‘chain of hearts’


new year’s day –
bushfire ash
along the beach

first day of school –
an empty bird’s nest
on the ground

hills hoist –
a spider’s web
in the corner

rain clouds -
cat asleep under
the bird bath

lunch on the river
three upturned
duck's tails


river boat's wash -
ducks flying
in formation

river froth blowing -
white cockatoos
in a cloudy sky

lunch on the river -
seagulls circle
the boat

river cruise
ducks glide over
the ferry's wake

still river
swan glides
through a tree fork

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My personal guidelines for writing haiku/senryu:

1. Show Don’t Tell - Let the reader delve into the poem and make the connections/think.

2. Be concise - Brevity is a key issue in haiku. Use as few words as possible, but don’t over edit. Find the balance.

3. Be objective - Don’t make personal comments about the subject, no politicizing or judgements. Subdue the poet.

4. Relate to season words - Use season words according to my intended readership, i.e. traditional Kigo words versus Australian season words.

5. Be in the moment - Write from an experience or a memory where I was totally present in that moment – wherever possible. Immediacy. Write in present tense.

6. Follow natural syntax - Use the natural flow of speech and no ‘clever’ language, ie use common language. A fragment and a phrase.

7. Relate to the senses - Again being in the moment.

8. Write first for myself and second for the intended audience.

9. Little or no punctuation - Use dashes to mark the kireji, only if I feel it is necessary. Be careful not to use it for publications that don’t use it.

10. Concrete imagery - Use concrete imagery. No abstractions.

11. Use either juxtaposition or single image haiku.

12. Try to get that aha! moment where the reader ‘gets it’.

I usually write haiku in three lines, although traditionally Japanese haiku were often written in a single line, and modern haiku writers often write haiku in one, two, three or even four lines.

Traditionally in Japan, haiku were written in seventeen on or onji. The word on in Japanese means sound, and onji means sound symbol.   Because of the difference in languages, the use of seventeen syllables in English forms a longer haiku than it would in Japanese language. In keeping with one of the most important rules of haiku - brevity, and to try to approximate Japanese language more closely, I prefer to write English haiku in approximately twelve syllables, or as few syllables as possible.

Haiku in Japan usually contains a kigo ( season word or words) and a saijiki is used to decide which words relate to which seasons. However, in Australia, because our seasons are different, I don’t usually use a kigo and try instead to use Australian season references, depending on who my intended audience is. See Australian Haiku Dreaming - for more on Australian season references.

Haiku usually has a distinct grammatical break, or kireji. Sometimes I use a dash to highlight the kireji, again depending on my intended audience. It also depends on whether I am writing a single image haiku or a haiku using juxtaposition.

Senryu is similar, except it emphasizes humor and human foibles instead of seasons, and may not use kigo or kireji.

For more information and definitions of haiku, go to:

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Links to websites:

Haiku Oz: The Australian Haiku Association -


Australian Haiku Dreaming -


Walleah Press, Famous Reporter, biannual magazine publishing poetry and with substantial haiku section, haiku submissions to: Lyn Reeves 44 Bayside Drive, Lauderdale, Tasmania 7021, Australia-


Stylus Poetry Journal an Australian site, based in Brisbane -


Paper Wasp Journal, quarterly; haiku and related forms. Enquiries/submissions to: 14 Fig Tree Pocket Road, Chapel Hill, Qld 4069, Australia. Or to -  -


Haiku XpresSions publishes haiku from around the world in the magazine FreeXpresSion. Send up to ten unpublished haiku at a time, not on offer elsewhere, to the Haiku Editor, Cynthia Rowe (, including your postal address. Any writer whose work is published receives a complimentary copy of FreeXpresSion magazine.


Notes From the Gean: Haiku, Tanka and Haiga Journal -

Pardalote Press -

Great article about haiku:

Haiku and photography website:


The Heron's Nest, USA -


A training exercise to writing haiku:


Shamrock Haiku Journal:


How to write haiku/Wisteria Press:


In the Moonlight a Worm …


Haiku Society of America:


Millikin University Haiku the Website: 


Haiku World - 


World Haiku Association -


HIA International Haiku Association - 


Writer’s Digest/Poetic Asides:


Haiku site -


Haiku Talk: A general discussion list for writers and others interested in haiku and related genres. A forum for news and views. -


Haiku 2000: A series of webpages supporting and expanding on the material in The Art of Haiku 2000: a guide to haiku, senryu, tanka, haibun, sedoka, sijo and other related genres, published by New Hope International. - 


Wonder Haiku Worlds - a community portal for haiku and related forms:


World Haiku Review:

Modern Haiku Magazine:

Simply Haiku:

Roadrunner Haiku Journal:

Frogpond, the journal of the Haiku Society of America:

Rooku -

chaba: an electronic haiku journal -

Tiny Words publishes one haiku per day:

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Interview by Haiku on Friday on MySpace:

For full interview go to:

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Workshop Review by Natasha L Adams:

On Monday 1st September 2008, during National Poetry Week 2008, I was fortunate to attend a Haiku Workshop organised by the City of Perth Library, and held in the Library in Hay Street, Perth.
The workshop was skilfully presented by Maureen Sexton. Maureen is the WA Regional Representative for HaikuOz, the Secretary of WA Poets Inc, and has been published both in Australia and abroad.
The 2 hour workshop was one of several events organised by the City of Perth Library. The other events included a Haiku Competition, a Haiku Display and two Poetry Sessions with local poets.
The winners of the Haiku Competition were announced the morning of the workshop.

We enjoyed an interesting and informative introduction to Haiku. We listened with enthusiasm as we learnt about its history and pioneers. Maureen explained the difference between Japanese language Haiku and English language Haiku, and discussed Australian Haiku. We learnt that in Haiku, more is less! To be concise and capture the moment... one single moment in time. Our ears unwrapped the Haiku read to us... discovering with joy, the many layers of meaning hidden in simple words. We practised the art of mastering the elusive Haiku moment... That "AHA", penny drops moment, where we see the big picture... the final layer of the Haiku.
The group showed great talent, with many writers infusing their work with rich images, simplicity, yet depth. In attendance, amongst others, were Enis Pearce, June Earle, Donna Wood, Anne Dyson, Natasha Adams & Liz Nicholls.
We were delighted to receive practical advice to get published in Australia and overseas. We also had the pleasure of meeting Mr Yuichi Takatsuka, from the Consulate-General of Japan, who was one of the judges of the Haiku Competition this year. The Consulate-General of Japan have provided the judges for all the Haiku Competitions organised by the City of Perth Library since 2005.
The winners in 2008 were: 1st Cassidy Marino WA, 2nd David Terelinck NSW, 3rd Mark Brenzi WA.

To join a Haiku writers group in WA, contact Maureen Sexton

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