December 2011 NaHaiWriMo Writing Prompts


Selected by Stella Pierides





Garland or wreath


Tongue or mouth


Lighthouse or lighthouse beam






Breath or air



Additional PHOTO PROMPT: “Driving Rain Over Cliffs,” painting by Maria Pierides




Heart . . . or the lack of it . . . anything to do with this precious organ! One of Issa’s haiku I like:


in winter rain

toward the heart of darkness . . .

honking geese


Translation by David Lanoue, from You can find more of Issa’s heart haiku there. There is also an interesting essay by Michael about “seeing into the heart,” vulnerability, and haiku.


Let’s visit a city, a village, monument, temple, river, lake, mountain . . . and name it! Write a haiku involving a specific place. Interesting essay on “The Value of Iconic Place Names in Western Haiku” by David Cobb at It includes this haiku:


a man with a torch

goes looking for a name—

the Menin Gate


Gabi Greve introduces “Place Names of the World” with interesting links to follow at


Write a recipe-ku (for a love potion, health problems, a celebration, witches brew, or just a tasty dish!)


Books or reading. And what has Issa got to say about it?


even while pooping

reading his almanac . . .

plum blossoms


(written in 1823; translated by David Lanoue)


Write a haiku that tells a story. Here’s Issa:


mopping sweat—

at his tomb I tell my story

then go


Translated by David Lanoue. See more here at, if you have the time, you might like to have a look at Michaels essay, Haiku as History: The Ultimate Short Story.


You are or were on holiday in Greece and this is how your haiku senses sing about or remember it . . .


Shamrock #17 had a Greek focus, with several haiku translated by its editor, Anatoly Kudryavitsky. You can find it at From the same issue is a haiku by Giorgos Seferis, translated by Anatoly Kudryavitsky:


empty chairs

the statues returned

to another museum



Haiku involving color. I’d like to share a haiku I read today on the Haiku Foundation site Archive (Haiku Now! winning poem, first prize for 2011), by Tom Painting:


Indian summer

mother dyes her graying hair

the color of straw



Onions. Here’s an onion poem from Frogpond’s Museum of Haiku Literature awards for 2011, by William M. Ramsey of Florence, South Carolina:


how some things end—

onion flakes

in the market sack



Snow, ice, or freezing temperatures




Refuge, shelter, or sanctuary. One more Issa, from 1824, translated by David Lanoue:


ridge between rice fields—

the horse eats

the sheltering willow



Include a number in your haiku. Here’s a poem by Shiki (from



must be 14

or 15


More Shiki poems at


Let’s have some serious fun. Pick a genre from Michael’s essay “Ku-ku: Because You Can’t Have Enough Haiku,” and write a haiku in one of its suggested genres. Please indicate which one you’ve picked, such as chai-ku.


Solstice (what else?), cosmic time, longest/shortest day, cosmic light. A haiku I love by Svetlana Marisova:


incoming tide . . .

the writing fills

both sides


You can read more of her poems at the recently created page at


All about trees. From frankincense trees, to olive and fig trees, eucalyptus, jacaranda, cinnamon, Christmas trees, take your pick! I saw this piece of news on frankincense trees:


Write haiku for the haiku tree. Behind this NaHaiWriMo page a huge haiku tree. It is so big that you need to squint your eyes and polish your computer screen to see it and even then you can just make it out. Please help decorate it with your heart-felt haiku; add color to it with seasonal wishes to friends and family; seasonal pictures, references. On the other hand, if you can’t wait for the festive season to be over, hang a grumble-ku. Now’s your chance! (Meanwhile, here is something nice I found, a rengay titled “Christmas in the City.”)


Let’s make some noise today: bells, gongs, chimes, drums, anything . . . or just write louder than usual!




Taking stock of the season, of the year, of life . . . or just making soup! Memories, looking back, what was, what might have been. Here’s Issa, translated by David Lanoue:


clamoring geese—

over there is the year

ending too?


And Buson, translated by Robert Hass:



fish the cormorants haven’t caught

swimming in the shallows



Gold, silver, or coins


Influence (other poets or poems)—write a haiku based on or influenced by another poet’s haiku. I know, I know, we are always under someone’s influence, but still! Anything goes, except “old pond”! If you are stuck for choice, have a look at the following link, the Haiku Foundation’s Montage Archive, where the work of haiku poets is juxtaposed in relation to a theme—for instance, “The Little Truths” at Or, pull on “The Frayed Rope: A Favourite Haiku.”


Old year–New Year: Resolutions, reviews, predictions. Do you make or keep New Year resolutions? Are you making any predictions of what might happen in the New Year? Would you like to remember or review a public event one last time? This is your chance.


I hope you have your dancing shoes ready. Today’s prompt is . . . dance. Dance in your haiku (where else?). The only limitation is . . . I can’t think of a limitation. No music? Switch on Facebook, dial NaHaiWriMo and go! Happy New Year!