On Saturday April 10th we offered a free online Haiku Workshop on Zoom. We were delighted that Iliyana Stoyanova from the British Haiku Society agreed to run this for us. 

Iliyana Stoyanova lives in St Albans, UK. She has a PhD in Theology. Iliyana is the Living Legacies Editor at the Living Haiku Anthology, Communications Officer and BHS Awards Administrator at the British Haiku Society, Former Secretary of the United Haiku and Tanka Society (2017-2020), Photo Editor in Haikupedia, and also a member of the BHS, Haiku Club-Plovdiv, The London Haiku Group and Tanka Society of America.

Her haiku, tanka, haibun and other poems have been included in numerous anthologies and journals and have been translated in Bulgarian, English, Japanese, Croatian, Russian, Italian and other languages. She has received awards and honours at national and international competitions. In addition to writing, Iliyana enjoys learning languages, travelling, photography and watercolour painting.

Guidelines for writing haiku

A haiku should:

  • be written from the viewpoint of a neutral observer (avoid the use of ‘I’)
  • use the writer’s senses to the full: taste, sight, smell, touch, hearing (and maybe ‘intuition’)
  • be short: able to be said in one breath
  • be written, most often, in three lines: short - long - short and avoid counting syllables (5-7-5 format is not necessary)
  • be about a ‘moment’
  • recreate the original experience of the writer, the ‘haiku moment’, for the reader
  • be about real things (not abstract concepts)
  • be written in everyday words
  • have two parts: the fragment (a shorter portion) and the phrase (the longer portion, or two-lines rest of the poem) which by their juxtaposition create a revelatory spark …the ‘aha’ moment (moment of surprise)
  • could contain a kigo (the season word) which gives a haiku its context
  • have no title; no metaphors or similes; no abstract words; no personification, and never rhyme
  • be interesting and original!

Iliyana recommended that all participants in the workshop have a look at the links below before joining the workshop and have with them 1 or 2 haiku for discussion.

- Haiku lessons - Free school download

- Teaching haiku - essays and haiku lessons by Kala Ramesh