One of the keys to a successful practice of writing haiku is to read haiku. Read the masters, read the moderns, read those you don’t like, read your favorites, read the manuals, read the anthologies. And reread. Devour.
As long as we can take for granted book stores, we are also likely to take for granted that, however small the poetry section may be, it will contain a book or two on haiku. Often this means the insipid little books that collect whimsical sentences on one theme or another and cram them into the shape of the 5/7/5 form – baseball, cats, computers, whatever. Sigh. Ignore them.
Just as likely, though, there is a volume on Basho, or a survey of the masters. More often than not, there’s the Haiku Handbook. Book stores, new and used, are still a great place to start. There is nothing like the object of a book in one’s hands to act as a foundation, a starting place. In a used book store, you are likely to find treasures. Sometimes those treasures have been discarded because they are not the way to go about writing the form (heroic couplets?!), sometimes they might be a real treat. Don’t question it. Take and learn.
Obviously, the Internet is an invaluable resource. Books listed below can be found on sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, Abe Books (discounted and used) and Paperbackswap (an exchange). Just look around a bit. Start with one, but clear some shelf space – once you get hooked, you are going to need it.
A few recommendations to begin the journey:
- Instructional books on haiku.
- A selection of books by some haiku greats
- Anthologies, collections
- Miscellaneous (um, zombie haiku anyone?)