It’s April, showers and all. If your month’s to-do list feels somewhat strained in its range—

—then you are in good company, because April is poetry month. While it is often characterized as a delicate luxury, poetry is in fact incredibly flexible, tough material you can ride from the tedious to the tragic to the sublime, all the way to the absurd. It can leap tall buildings in a single bound, compare thee to a summer’s day, then satisfy those angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

One more item for your to-do list: enter the library’s haiku contestHaiku are amazingly elastic poetic forms, in both the original Japanese and in the non-Japanese versions that became popular in the twentieth century. Each tiny verse can embrace any one of your many April thoughts.

Haiku began as a variation on the ceremonious court verse of medieval Japan. By the time Basho wrote his famous “old pond” poem in the 17th century, it had become an established form. For our contest, you can strictly adhere to the typical form of English language haiku—

  • a line of 5 syllables
  • a line of 7 syllables
  • a line of 5 syllables

—with a “kigo” or seasonal reference, and a “kire” or cut, in the form of a word, pause or mark of punctuation. Or you can free-style it, as long as you honor the basic haiku idea.

We’ve got eight topic categories to inspire you: springtime, of course, but also Blue Jays, science & technology, the library, Earth Day, Baltimore, humor and… miscellaneous.

Rules: Enter as many haiku as you like, using this form or by email.

Deadline: Midnight on April 15.

Winners: Winners in each category will be determined by a readers’ poll the week of April 18 to 22. All entries will be printed on bookmarks you can pick up in the library that week, and will also be available to read online. Stay tuned!

Prizes: Glory, naturally. Winners will be announced at the Undergraduate Reading Group event on April 22, on the library Q-level steps. Winning poems will appear on the library blog. One lucky grand prize winner will get a $25.00 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, and the second-place winner will receive a $10.00 Café Q gift card, courtesy of the Friends of the Libraries.

This contest is dedicated to the strength and courage of the Japanese people.

3 thoughts on “Haiku You, JHU

  1. As I was born in Sendai (and sadly no longer asked where it is located), and having family living there, your words are appreciated.


  2. “This contest is dedicated to the strength and courage of the Japanese people.”

    Nice touch.

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