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Why Use Prompts?

Haiku is a poetic form that originated in Japan and is traditionally composed of three lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5. It often reflects nature, emotions, and fleeting moments. Despite its simplicity, crafting a haiku that resonates with readers can be challenging. This is where prompts come into play:

1. Spark Creativity

Prompts are like keys that unlock the doors to your creativity. They provide you with a starting point, a theme, or an idea to kickstart your haiku writing process. In the haiku below, the starting prompt was watery worlds. I found this photo gave me the perfect situation for exploring water as a haiku.

2. Break Writer's Block

Even the most prolific writers encounter writer's block from time to time. Prompts can be your escape route from this creative roadblock. They introduce new perspectives and concepts, making it easier to overcome those moments of stagnation. This prompt focused on microcosms, and I noticed this tiny tomato blossom from my garden in a new way, bringing its stunning shape into my perception from up close using my phone's camera. I experienced something very different from what I usually saw and then put that feeling into my poem.

3. Expand Your Horizons

Prompts can guide you to explore new subjects and themes you might not have considered otherwise. Whether it's an everyday object, a fleeting emotion, or a distant memory, prompts encourage you to venture beyond your comfort zone and enrich your haiku repertoire. In this instance, following the prompt about skies above, the haiku shifted from traveling with my sister to the clouds forming in the sky as we drove. This shift, or juxtaposition between two views, concepts, or features is called kireji in Japanese and means cutting word. Some writers use punctuation, such as a dash or an ellipsis to demonstrate the cut, although the line break serves that purpose just as well. My cut in this example happens between the first and second lines.

4. Challenge Your Skills

Using prompts can push you to experiment with different aspects of haiku writing, such as word choice, imagery, and the use of seasonal references (kigo). Challenges foster growth, helping you refine your craft and develop a unique haiku-writing style. The prompt for the haiku below, under my feet, mentions explicitly the summer season. Other ways to refer to the season can include seasonal phenomena, such as ripe fruits, flowers, leaves that fall, snow-covered branches, etc. Naming events or objects related to a certain time of year is another way to weave seasons into the poem. For instance, painted eggs, wreaths, firecrackers, or coins can evoke holidays and seasonal celebrations.

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