A Zen Buddhist Community in Shelburne, Vermont

Haiku Poetry

13 jul 2024

An old pond;
A frog jumps in—
the sound of water.

Haiku can be traced back to the thirteenth century Japan as the opening phrase of renga, an oral poem, composed syllabically. The much shorter haiku broke away from this form in the sixteenth century and was mastered a century later by Matsuo Basho who wrote the above classic haiku.

This workshop begins with the discussion of the components and essential traits of traditional haiku encountered through close readings of traditional examples. This will be followed by a walk through the Zen Center gardens where participants can take photos and notes to inspire their writing. A period of writing and sharing of work will then ensue.

What You Will Learn

Through close readings of Japanese poets, including Basho, Buson, and Issa, participants will learn the essential elements of traditional haiku. Participants will gain an understanding of the interaction between spiritual practice and poetry, as well as an appreciation of the deeper meaning of haiku and how it provides a way to engage in the tranquility of one’s environment.


  • 09:00 — Welcome and Introduction
  • 09:30 — Close reading and discussion
  • 10:30 — Walk through Zen Center gardens
  • 11:30 — Writing and sharing
  • 01:00 — Tea and snacks

Instructor—Joan White

Joan White

Joan has been a member of the Zen Center for 30 years. During that time, she has been an avid writer of poetry. Her work has been published in The American Journal of Poetry, Cider Press Review, and the On Being Blog, among other publications.

From Participants