I recently came across this twitter account, Haikews Project. 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:

(Embarrassingly, I even got the hashtag wrong! Unfortunately, Twitter does not allow one to edit tweets.)

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

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 cæsura in the first or second line as well as a nature metaphor to provide a “sketch of nature” to those reading the haikus.

I 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.

It is a really 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 superficial flourishes. 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 had to pick my favourite “haikew”, it would 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 akin to practising the scales before attempting a sonata.


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