Translink Haiku Competition

Travel network invites commuters to submit miniature poems for nationwide writing competition

Translink has organised a competition across June and July to inspire commuters to come up with their own haiku – a three-lined form of Japanese poetry, traditionally consisting of 17 syllables – for a chance of seeing it printed and displayed in the passenger transport company’s stations across Northern Ireland.

As part of its 'Life’s Better' campaign, Translink has teamed up with Poetry NI and Community Arts Partnership to encourage passengers to tap into their inner poet, to sit back, relax and perfect their poetic prose while onboard bus, coach or train.

Inspiration can be taken from the scenery on the journey, the environmental and financial benefits associated with travelling with Translink, or simply the use of the free wifi onboard to write a haiku poem.

Lynda Shannon, Translink Communications Manager said: 'We are delighted to be working alongside Poetry NI and Community Arts Partnership to find Northern Ireland’s best travel-related haiku.

'Our customers are always giving us different reasons as to why their life’s better on board the bus or train, and indeed many are now Translink ambassadors because they want to share the benefits with others. This initiative is a quirky way for more people to do this in a fun and creative way.

'Though the medium of creative writing we hope to get even more people to see how using the bus and train could make their life better. So if anyone has some free time to spare on their journey please get pen to paper, finger to Smartphone or stylus to tablet and share your creative haiku.'

Four winning haiku will be chosen and winning authors will see their haiku on display in Translink stations across Northern Ireland. Translink will work with Poetry NI and Community Arts Partnership to select the winners that best reflect how travelling by bus and train can make life better.

'Haiku is an instantly recognisable, accessible form of poetry, and an excellent format for the expression of ideas. Often a haiku is based on vivid imagery, emphasizing simplicity, intensity and directness of expression,' said poet Colin Dardis, who got the ball rolling with a haiku session at Great Victoria Street Station in Belfast this week.

'It's brilliant that Translink is using poetry to engage with the public and encouraging people to write. I'm looking forward to reading all the entries relating to people's travel experiences and how it makes their life better.'

The Community Arts Partnership, one of Northern Ireland’s leading organizations in the promotion, development and delivery of community arts practices is also lending its support to the 'Life’s Better' haiku competition by driving awareness across its network and being part of the judging panel.

Poetry NI founder Colin Dardis has provided helpful hints and tips on writing the perfect haiku:

Structure – When attempting to write a haiku, there are two main things to consider: structure and content. Structure deals with how exactly the poem is laid out and composed; content is concerned with the actual subject, theme, phrases and poetic techniques used within.

Simplicity – Generally, the words contained in a haiku are not overly elaborate or abstract. Given the limited number of words you can fit into a piece, the lexicon tends to be natural and lacking rhetoric. The challenge is to keep your words on this level, while at the same time creating something inspiring and evocative.

Rhyme – Haiku tend not to be titled, and generally do not use rhyme. That is not to say that rhyme cannot be used altogether. Internal rhyme, where the rhyming words are not necessarily at the end of a line, but contained within a rhyme, can be used. However, take care to make sure this doesn’t detract from the overall impression you want your poem to give. Haiku also are almost always written in the present tense.

Inspiration – Overall, I would suggest writing about something personal, something directly experienced. Make sure that your poem can make sense to the reader: avoid overly personal allusions that may be obscure and impenetrable. Keep the language natural, and if you are in need of some inspiration, search for some samples of traditional haiku online, and see how others approach the form.

To submit your three-line poem online visit the Translink website or tweet using the hash tag #translinklifesbetter. The closing date for submissions is July 31.