Haiku, Anyone?

April is National Poetry Month.  As Marquette University President Scott Pilarz, S.J., noted, poetry is “one of life’s pleasures – a gift to our spirits.” Poetry surely can speak to us and for us in beautiful ways.

You don’t have to be a “professional” to create poetry that’s fun to read.  One of the guilty pleasures of many a legal writing professor is to craft haiku.  Occasionally, the legal writing professors’ listserv lights up with people exchanging haiku on topics from serious to silly, on legal education, on law, and on life.

Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. There are certain specific qualities that make a poem a haiku, but among the legal writing professors the only quality is that the poem adhere to the 5/7/5 structure, a fitting requirement for professors who encourage precision and concision in writing. That is, the haiku contains three lines. The first line contains five syllables; the second, seven syllables; and the third, five syllables.

I’m sharing one my haikus, written a year or so ago at the tail end of a long conference period. I used only the magnetic words on my office filing cabinet, so I was a bit limited with my choices.  Nonetheless, I suspect many in the law school community can relate, especially at this time of the year.

Wild thoughts wandering

From the morning through the night

I could use some sleep.

Celebrate National Poetry Month and share a haiku of your own.  It’s good practice in writing concisely.





This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Rebecca Blemberg

    In the midst of stress
    breathe, sleep, laugh. Remember too,
    there is more than this

  2. Melissa Greipp

    I found this law haiku on the WSJ Law Blog:

    Like sleeping tigers Hungry justices dream of Feasting on verdicts.

    -Neil McCabe


    Here is another law and haiku website featuring haiku about the Supreme Court: http://lawhaiku.com/.

    A few years ago, National Geographic printed an article on Basho, the 17th-century Japanese haiku poet. The author, Howard Norman, retraced a five-month trek that Basho made through Japan. The article is fascinating, and the photos in the article are exquisite.


    The author gave the following description of haiku and its connection to a form of poetry called haikai: “In Basho’s time, the first verse in haikai was evolving into a poetic idiom of its own—haiku, whose unrhymed phrases of five, seven, and five syllables are meant to capture the essence of nature. Basho published his first haiku under various names, each having some personal significance.”

  3. Marisa Kasriel

    My 1L Year in Haiku:


    Company coughs up
    cash for ads vowing no flu.
    -Carbolic Smoke Ball


    Before proximate
    cause, Torts was a breeze. Now it’s
    hard. I blame Palsgraf.


    Shoe said “minimum contacts.”
    But what does that mean?


    Undergrads, take your
    calculators and get out
    of our Reading Room!

  4. Keith Jaasma

    Go directly to the supreme court haiku blog (The Supreme Court Haiku Reporter) at supremecourthaiku.net

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