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Celebrate National Poetry Month by Writing Hiker Haiku

Posted by cwakenshaw at Mar 31, 2020 11:55 AM |
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Now, as the great outdoors temporarily shrink to our backyards and neighborhoods, take time to capture your thoughts in a poem to see your world transform in creative new ways.

by Charlie Wakenshaw

In uncertain times, we can count on nature to hold steady and help us feel grounded. In spring, nature announces itself in a thousand small ways: Birdsong accompanies the alarm clock in the morning, fiddleheads unfurl and buds burst open.

Celebrate Poetry Month 

The coming of spring also happens to mark the start of National Poetry Month, when art and nature intersect. We invite you celebrate with us and experiment with a poem or two of your own. 

Small bridge in the trail. Photo by Natalie Dagley.
See where poetry can take you. Photo by Natalie Dagley. 

Nature and poetry have always been compatible, especially here where many great poets have turned their eyes on the Pacific Northwest for inspiration. Engaging with poetry this spring, whether reading it or writing it, is a great way to stay connected with the calming force of the outdoors. 

Whether you tote a journal with you on every hike, regularly pontificate on the nuances of the villanelle, or put a little extra flare into your trip reports, we can all benefit from a poem or two right now.

Write your own poems

As the great outdoors temporarily shrinks to our backyards and neighborhoods, take time each day to capture your thoughts in a poem to see your world transform in creative new ways. If you stop on your neighborhood walk — even for two seconds — and ponder some magical sight, be it big or small, grab a pen and get writing. 

A woman sits on a rock next to a river and reads a book. Photo by McKenzie Carlson.
Reading by the River. Photo by McKenzie Carlson. 

Writing haiku is a great place to start with poetry. The haiku is a traditional Japanese poem, typically involving images from nature. It has three lines, each with a given number of syllables, 5-7-5, like this:

First, five syllables
Second, seven syllables
Third, five syllables

Not sure if “bivouac” is two or three syllables? Nobody knows, so just go with your gut. Some rules are meant to be broken, especially when it comes to poetry. You can make your haiku be whatever you want it to be. 

If you like poems that rhyme, make your haiku rhyme. If you buck at the sing-song sound of rhyming poems, by all means revolt and go freestyle. If alliteration is your thing (like all those S’s in the previous sentence) then do it — if cute word play makes your skin squirm, (whoops, did it again!) then don’t.

Share your haiku!

So, the next time you head out for a neighborhood stroll, bring a pen and some paper or just memorize your poem and whisper it into the wind. (No one’s watching.)

Turn Around Time cover

We would really love to see what you come up with, so write your haiku down and post it in the comments below. We might feature your poem in an upcoming issue of our member magazine!

We'll also be selecting one poet from the comments at random on April 10 to receive a copy of Turn Around Time: A Walking Poem for the Pacific Northwest, the new epic poem by local author David Guterson and published by our friends at Mountaineers Books.

Ideas to Get Started

    • Write a haiku about an unusual plant you see on a neighborhood walk.
    • Search through trip reports until a photo inspires you. Write a haiku about it (or start with the photos below).
    • Pull out a hiking map, close your eyes and point anywhere on the map. Open your eyes and take note of the first word you see. Include this word in your haiku. 
    • Think about your most memorable hike and write a haiku about it. 
    • Write a haiku about your favorite piece of gear.
    • Write a haiku consisting only of one syllable words.
    • Consider making a habit of it, and set the goal of writing one hiker haiku per day (or week) for the entire month of April.

A photomosaic showing close up pictures of plants from our region.
Photos are a great way to spark ideas. Clockwise from top left: Elisabeth Britt, Ananthatejas Raghaven, Kristopher Ebbert, Louise Kornreich, Angela Downard. 


California Girl on Celebrate National Poetry Month by Writing Hiker Haiku

I composed these this afternoon as I walked along the Centennial Trail in a storm even before reading this post.

Graupel like dandruff
Caught in last summer’s grasses
Along the paved trail

Purple grass widows
Blooming yellow buttercups
Early signs of spring

Posted by:

California Girl on Apr 01, 2020 09:27 PM

MeLuckyTarns on Celebrate National Poetry Month by Writing Hiker Haiku

Haiku contest! Heck yeah! Lemme come up with a few based on the last couple of days...

Small dog playing free
No one in the park but we
Joy for all to see

Wind sighs through the trees
Mountains peer through mist and clouds
Earth's great mosaic

Scent of pondo pines
Mule deer stamps his hoof then flees
East of the Cascades

Posted by:

MeLuckyTarns on Apr 06, 2020 02:52 PM

Mary Wohleb on Celebrate National Poetry Month by Writing Hiker Haiku

For Tom Winn, my hiking buddy forever—-

With reverence he steps
Lightly on the mountain trail
To be in his church

Posted by:

Mary Wohleb on Apr 16, 2020 01:52 PM