I recently came across this twitter account, @HaikewsProject. The project is simple: read the news, compose a haiku that essentialises what it’s about and post a link to the story. I thought it was fun and decided to give it a try. The following are what I have come up so far.

For the first few haikus, I wasn’t aware that I needed to post a link to the story.

Vienna Boys’ choir

in deep financial trouble;

best export destroyed.


New flats for singles

with low incomes. Very good

move to house a nation.


Fandi demoted

plagued by egos and crown prince

boss who wants results.

#Haikews #SG #JB

Arts Council head steps

down after four-year tenure.

Search for new chief starts!

#Haikews #SG

After realising that I needed to add a link to my haikus, these were what I came up with.

SightLines saves one show

for Stroke Association.

A good cause indeed!

#Haikews #SG @SightLinesProd  http://ow.ly/nwhfg

First group of students

touring varsity library

this new semester!

#Haikews #SG #NUS @NUSLibraries http://instagram.com/p/cdEcrrHltW/

At this point, I thought I should try to stick closer to the conventions of the form as possible. I felt that I was merely fitting words into word count. A quick search on the internet taught me that I needed to add a ceasura in the first or second line as well as a nature metaphor to provide a “sketch of nature” to those reading the haikus.

Obama observes

demise of newspapers;

sheets of autumn leaves.

#Haikews  http://bit.ly/18T1pQ3 

Simon first-time dad

with close friend’s wife – New bud

blooms from murky roots.

#Haikews  http://bit.ly/15wJFVQ 

Gunman kills neighbours.
Spooked by witchcraft claims he, as
winter dawns within.

#haikews #Miami

Family Council
writes pledge, no mention of love –
Leaves us feeling cold.
#Haikews #Singapore http://ow.ly/nyE4z 

Australian tax on
bank deposits: Stealing bread
from mouths in winter.
#haikews  http://ow.ly/nyGjH

Tried to come up with a nature metaphor for these two pieces of news but I failed. As such, I just stuck to  the right syllable count.

P.E. syllabus:
more time and variety.
Different reactions.
#haikews #Singapore

Girls shave heads for good
cause. Refuse wigs; break promise –
Principal flips out.
#Haikews #Singapore http://ow.ly/nyDuB

It is really an interesting exercise to capture the gist of the news in 14 syllables. It forces you to be straighforward with your delivery and leaves no space for biased flourish. When I added the nature metaphor, I realised that I tend to use it as my personal commentary on the news and it really served me well. If I were to pick my favourite haikew, it would still be the one on Obama observing the demise of newspapers. “Sheets of autumn leaves” is very evocative for me as I could see tonnes of newspapers being tossed out of windows as they fall like autumn leaves. The sight of newspapers falling also reminded of the Chinese funeral tradition of tossing paper offerings in the air as the family walks around the coffin. All in all, it really is a good warm up exercise if you are gearing to write something bigger and longer. It’s like practising your scales before attempting a sonata.

So what are you waiting for? Get on twitter and start writing your own haikews now!


Glimpse of Being A Writer


After some consideration mixed with procrastination, I finally decided to give writing a serious try. I have been writing since I was 12 but those dashes of words, pseudo poems and naive musings did not translate into anything serious or concrete. In fact, I stopped writing for about 5 years with a feeble excuse that the muse that has left me. Now in my young adulthood and having the opportunity of starting a literary journal for my varsity, I am flushed with envy at the ability of others and realised that the struggles of writing are something that I am willing to go through. The words of others have often lifted me and now I want to try to create something of my own. This summer, I got a sneak peek of what it takes to be a writer as I wrote a short story and a poem for two writing competitions. But one aspect of the process really bugged me.

One thing I had to do which I have not done so far was field research for my works. I knew that I had to be an observer but I did not expect to be an outsider. Anyone would find my assumption silly – if you are observing something, you are standing outside of the action and this obviously means one has to be an outsider. In my defence, I am aware of this implication but I really saw myself observing what is going on as part of the action; like the teenager walking down the street blind because his eyes are on his phone or the tourist running from spot to spot taking pictures of the most mundane things.

Being there at the setting of my story was an alienating experience; I felt very intrusive and was fraught with doubt. What am I doing here? What right do I have to write these people into my story? At that point, writing seemed to be an insidious exercise. While street photography may be more intrusive as everyone will recognise the unwitting subject in the photo, the subject can request for the photo to be deleted. This does not extend to the people in my story; I am invading their privacy expediently. Of course, we all employ artistic licence in crafting our characters but I am still unable to shake that feeling off.

Where do we draw the line between inspiration and intrusion?