How To Write a Zappai Poem

A true poet is more than just a man who can write a poem with a pen. A true poet writes poetry with his very life. – Eric Ludy

I’ve been writing a lot of poetry when I have been writing recently, so it makes sense for me to share with you how to write one. Today I would like to share with you how to write a zappai poem.

You probably haven’t heard of a zappai poem, although there is a fair chance that you have written one if you enjoy writing poetry. I hadn’t heard of a zappai poem until I was researching poem types the other day, and since it is interesting I thought that it would be good to share.

A zappai poem is a syllabic poem that has has three lines with five syllables in the first, seven syllables in the second, and five syllables in the last. It is also a Japanese form of poetry.

However, there is a difference. Haiku poems are only really supposed to apply to nature poems, so zappai poems cover everything else, except things that are related to humans and human emotions those are called senryu poems and I guess I will cover them in a later post.

The Haiku Society of America (another thing that I didn’t know existed until I was researching for this) define a zappai as ‘miscellaneous amusements in doggerel verse.’ And then it has also been defined by Lee Gurga as ‘includes all types of seventeen syllable poems that do not have the proper formal or technical characteristics of haiku.’

So, basically a zappai is a haiku that is written for pleasure and does not have to do with nature or humans.

So, the way that I would go about writing this is, I start by choosing the topic. I’m going to write this zappai on art.

Once I choose a topic, I write a description of my topic not worrying about how many words or syllables I use. The main thing is just to get a more specific idea of what you are writing. Once that description is written then comes the time to actually narrow it down.

So, here is my description:

Painting a description. Writing a painting. Beauty of the world found everywhere you look. The real life magic.

Once the description is done start to figure out which parts of your description are meaningful. It can be helpful to highlight them.

I highlighted mine like this:

Painting a description. Writing a painting. Beauty of the world found everywhere you look. The real life magic.

Then I took what I had written and began to play with it to get the effect and the syllables that I wanted. That was how I came to my finished haiku.

Which turned out like this:

Art is human life
The beauty unexpected
The real life magic

So that my zappai poem. I hope that this will encourage you to write one of your own, or if you don’t, at least, remember the difference between it and a haiku.

If you write a zappai, I would love to read it!

2 thoughts on “How To Write a Zappai Poem

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