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Hufflepuff Common Room

Little box of haikus

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I'm not sure where to put this, so for now I'll just leave this here.

*puts a stack of paper slips and a little box on a table in the corner of the common room.*

The box is a warm yellow colour with black trimmings, and there is a narrow opening on top  - the perfect size for those paper slips. It is also possible to take off the lid, and browse through the slips already inside.

Have you ever tried writing your own poetry? Back when I started trying that out, I felt awkward about it because I thought poetry "had to" be a certain way; had to adhere to some complex set of rules, or at least had to rhyme. Somehow it felt too fancy for me, and I spent a long time getting over the idea that I wasn't good enough for this art form. One of the things that helped me was discovering the poetry type called haiku.


What is a haiku?

A haiku is a Japanese form of poetry, which consists of three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables. Other than that structure, there are no requirements. No need to rhyme. No complex structure. No limits about theme or topic. Even though traditional haikus are often about nature and the natural world, it's possible to write them about anything. It's a chance to just play with words, and see if you're able to fit your thoughts to the 5-7-5 format. The fact that a complete haiku is so short might also be motivating, because it makes trying writing your own a less daunting task.

Of course you can string multiple haikus together for a longer poem, if you wish. But in that case, each haiku should be complete on its own, too.


What is a syllable?

I suppose we also need to look at what constitutes as syllable, for this form of poetry to make sense. According to Oxford Languages, this is the definition of a syllable:



A unit of pronunciation having one vowel sound, with or without surrounding consonants, forming the whole or a part of a word.

Pay attention to how it says "one vowel sound" and not "one vowel." For example, the word "foot" is one syllable, because "oo" is said as one sound, even though it's actually written as two o's. So, when counting syllables, always think of how you say the words, not how they are written.

Sometimes it's obvious how many syllables are in a word, just from the definition above. For example, "football" has two syllables - "foot" and "ball." 
But how about a more complex word like "raspberry"?

... do you want to know a cool fact about syllables? They have a mind of their own. More specifically, the vowel sound in a syllable always wants to have as many consonants as possible in front of itself, but it can only keep claiming consonants for itself as long as it's still pronounceable. The best way to find syllable borders is to count from the back of the word.

So, "raspberry" has "y" functioning as a vowel. Because Y wants friends, we give it the R next to it, forming the syllable RY. We cannot give it the next R as well, because RRY becomes unpronounceable.

The next vowel is E, who also wants friends. We've already established that there is a lone R after it, so that joins the E as his friend. Towards the left, we give it B as well, but we cant give the next consonant, which is P, because PBER is unpronounceable. So BER it is.

Finally, the only vowel left is an A, which means RASP must be a syllable of its own. Hence, "raspberry" is three syllables: RASP-BER-RY.

Thanks for coming to my little TED talk about haikus.

... I was thinking we could use the box here for our very own haikus. Don't be shy; write about whatever falls into your mind, as long as you also keep all HOL rules in mind.

I hope this can be an enjoyable activity.

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