Exploring Modern Womanhood Through Haiku

modern woman

We’re all connected
So why do I feel alone?
A modern woman

For me, being a modern woman can at times feel both celebratory and painful. I want to be soft and nurturing — and at the same time, edgy, wild and rebellious. I simultaneously love and hate the attention my body attracts. I want to chase after all of my wildest dreams and yet, I’ve learned how that can backfire.

I feel powerful and I feel very, very afraid. Some days I am able to feel whole and perfect and others I feel impossibly imperfect and broken — the ever-present wound inside of me opening up into loneliness and despair. I want to feel loved and at the same time, I want to feel free.

I started a new poetry series, #amodernwomanhaiku, to explore this paradox of modern womanhood.

Of course, my experience as a modern woman is viewed through the limited lens of whiteness, singleness and able-bodied privilege. My ultimate goal is for other women to explore modern womanhood through the contained, yet freeing format of haiku — a structure that comes with its own paradox.

Here’s how to write your own #amodernwomanhaiku:

Think of an experience as a modern woman that feels confusing, contradictory or paradoxical. Pair it down to two lines: the first line should be five syllables, and the second line should be seven syllables. Traditional haiku format is three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables.

“A modern woman” should be the third and final line of your poem (it just so happens to be five syllables).


Bright shiny objects
Luring, paralyzing me
A modern woman

(entitled The Paradox of Choice)

In bed with hurt womb
I email my employee
A modern woman

(entitled Technology)

Picked my own flowers
I don’t wanna be needy
A modern woman

(entitled Independence)

Finally, post your haiku with a fitting image on Instagram using the hashtags #amodernowmanhaiku and #thatsdarling for the chance to be featured in a future #DarlingDiscussions post.

Images via Daniel N. Johnson and Emily Wilkinson

Emily is a lawyer, poet and activist who currently serves as managing partner at wilkmazz, a one-stop legal shop for small businesses, nonprofits and artists.

  • Sim Cele May 9, 2018

    Not black not white,no
    Kind of a mix but neither
    A modern woman

    This is such great task 🙂

  • Melanie Hunter May 4, 2018

    organic tampons
    hugs her hot water bottle
    A modern woman

  • Nishita T June 26, 2017

    Absolutely love this. Such a lesser acknowledged topic. Thank you for the inspiration!

  • Yvonne June 26, 2017

    Haikus have been a key part of my life for the past 2 years. They were my way of continuing to show up for myself and create, in the middle of the most traumatic season of my life. I completed 420 consecutive days of haikus, stopped after another traumatic incident and restarted again. I am into another 7 months of daily haikus at yvonnewhitelaw.com One of my haiku lovers send me a link to this post. Thanks for this beautiful article!

  • Elise Holland June 26, 2017

    Emily, this is an excellent idea! What a creative way to bring women together, and explore haiku. Thank you 🙂

  • Haikus were the first form of poetry I learned about and learned to write back in primary school. They’re so fun and an easy way to get the brain thinking creatively. This is a great product, and one that everyone can do!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog