Unit 1 | Why 5-7-5?
A look at the 1,300-year history of the haiku form, exploring its origins in poetic community and playful collaboration. This introduction covers all the basics of haiku in historical context, while giving you the tools you need to write and share haiku of your own. Activities include beginning a haiku diary.
Unit 2 | Practicing the Season
Haiku is the only form of poetry in world literature that takes the four seasons—with their distinctive plants, animals, weather, and human activities—as its primary subject matter. This lesson (which features spring poetry) explores the roots of haiku in animism, the universal religion of homo sapiens during the upper Paleolithic and a tradition we can still practice today by writing haiku in community. Activities include a weekly haiku challenge.
Unit 3 | Crafting a Turn of Thought
Poetry lives in the expressive possibilities of the language we use every day—in slang or common idioms, in news headlines, in snatches of popular song. Sometimes the words of a haiku will slip right out in conversation. This lesson (featuring summer haiku) focuses on the unique little “twist” that gives the 17 syllables of a haiku more than 17 syllables of meaning. Activities include a weekly haiku challenge and experiments in the genre of popular haiku.
Unit 4 | The Sketch from Life
Modern haiku begins with Masaoka Shiki, whose “sketch from life” approach grounded haiku in the stuff of everyday life. The objective description of a moment using images (usually connected to the season) is a basic skill that every haiku poet needs to master. In this lesson, which features autumn haiku, poets—that's you!—will learn to observe nature carefully, attuning themselves to the kinds of details that produce a good haiku. Activities include a weekly haiku challenge and a ginko, or “poetry walk.”
Unit 5 | The House of Haiku
To devote oneself to a fixed poetic form means living inside of that form, in much the same way we live inside of a house. But haiku isn’t just any house. It is filled with the ghosts of thousands of poets who have lived within its walls. And not just poets. The ghosts of crickets and storm clouds live there. And the ghosts of famous haiku, too. This lesson (which focuses on winter poetry) explores the way modern poets have occupied the House of Haiku, honoring its traditions while still striving to express themselves in new and original ways. Activities include a weekly haiku challenge and a self-guided ginko where poets venture outdoors in search of season words unique to their environments.
Unit 6 | The Haiku Party
Once you live in the House of Haiku, it's natural to invite others into your home. Haiku originated over 1,300 years ago as a poetic party game in which participants took turns capping one another’s poems by adding a new verse to them. Although haiku eventually developed into a serious art form, it never lost its social dimension. That is one reason why haiku is now the most popular form of poetry in the world. This lesson explores the many ways of writing haiku together—some traditional, some new. Our six-part course culminates in a traditional Kukai gathering in which members share their haiku anonymously and then vote on their favorites, stating briefly what they liked about them.
The course concludes with a full set of resources for the ongoing study of haiku, including Weekly Challenge Groups, monthly Kukai Meetings, contests, and publication opportunities.
Praise for Clark Strand's haiku courses
Whether you’re a beginner, or if you’ve been writing haiku for years, if you have a chance to study with poet/author, Clark Strand, grab it. A gifted poet and teacher, Clark has a knack for diving deep into his students’ poems, gently guiding each of them to grow. His deep understanding and knowledge of the form makes him one of the finest (if not the finest) teachers of haiku in the English language.—Suzanne Tyrpak, Author & Haiku Poet
To study haiku with Clark Strand is to enter a world of poetic play that is grounded in nature and the seasons. In his Weekly Challenge group and Master Class, I learned to turn my eye inward and outward as we studied haiku masters, ancient and modern, wrote dozens of haiku, shared them with the group, and received feedback from Clark. Working with a group of interesting people from various walks of life became a highlight of my week.—Susan Polizzotto
I cannot recommend Clark’s workshops, classes, and haiku challenges highly enough. I have gained a new world of poetry along with a network of poets to share that world.—Rev. Jaeni Aarden Minister, International Metaphysical Ministries Poet and Artist
Clark is an exceptional and rare teacher whose love of haiku is infectious. He has a vast knowledge of haiku and expertly guides us in expressing ourselves and nature in the spirit of play. Also, the support and encouragement from this community has made writing fun again and, as I've found, invaluable to writing consistently.—Kelly Shaw
I’ve spent the past few years gleaning all that I can from Clark through the Weekly Haiku Challenge group and now his Master Class. A true master with years of experience, his haiku skills are honed yet still evolving, and he has me completely hooked.—Dana Clark-Millar
Strand’s clear instructions on writing haiku is also a pathway for the practice of kindness and simplicity.—John Fox, Finding What You Didn’t Lose
Clark Strand weaves poetry, weather, and Zen into a delightfully luminous pathway anyone can walk.—Rick Fields, How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America
I love the community aspect of the writing experience. It has been twenty years since I did any creative writing, and I have never tried my hand at poetry. It has already been a life-changing experience, and I look forward to continuing to learn with you and the group.—Noga Shemer