Matrix NI’s ‘sci-ku’ challenge

For the last couple of weeks I have been researching science topics and counting on my fingers for a science haiku competition. The brief for this event the Northern Ireland Science Industry Panel, Matrix, was to Tweet science-inspired haiku in three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.

I write a lot of short form poetry, so you’d think this would be fairly straightforward. However, since Japanese syllables are shorter than their English counterparts, contemporary haiku no longer adheres to this count, so the 5-7-5 stipulation took a bit more effort. As I said to one of the organisers afterwards, I felt I had to ‘pad out’ some haiku in order to reach seventeen syllables. However, as I enjoy a challenge I merrily Tweeted sci-ku on all sorts of topics from black holes and de-extinction, to the dwindling population of bees.

Well, I’m sorry to say I didn’t win, although four of my entries made the shortlist and were displayed at the awards ceremony in Belfast’s Black Box. I also managed to miss this event by being in the wrong place – though at the right time! There were two events organised by Matrix NI that evening in adjacent rooms in the same venue, both starting at 18:30. When I entered the main theatre, I read the words, ‘Tako Tsubo’ (a Japanese term) on a large screen along with the question ‘Can you die from a broken heart?’ Not for a moment did I think I was in the wrong place for a poetry event, so I ordered a drink and sat down for the evening.

Anyway, it turned out that I was attending a presentation by the University of Aberdeen on results of research into a debilitating heart condition. I had been aware from the Matrix Twitter feed that there was to be a further prize for the best science haiku written during the evening and naively thought that the presentation was to provide inspiration. I felt so silly on discovering my error, especially since the haiku event had finished by the time I realised. However, my daughter who had accompanied me said that she had learned more about the heart in two hours than she had over the last two years in biology class. Ah well, as they say, you live and learn. 🙂

So, here are my ‘heart haiku’ and I am itching to remove a few words, but will resist. They are all based on the paper presented by Dr Dana Dawson on the heart condition Tako-Tsubo Cardiomyopathy (also know as Broken Heart Syndrome) which mimicks a heart attack. It can be brought on by emotional stress, such as news of the death of a loved one, due to a sudden increase in adrenaline.

Tako-tsubo heart…
the devastating effect
on survivors too

adrenaline storm …
too much of a good thing
can be a bad thing too

matters of the heart…
wondering if we can die
from a broken one

And here are the shortlisted general haiku with images kindly supplied by Matrix NI. I took the stills from the video of all shortlisted entries.


The above haiku refers to this project and of course to Basho’s ‘old pond’, the most famous haiku in the world.


One for St Valentine’s Day! 🙂


I found this arachnid intriguing, it is also known as the ‘signature spider’ because it writes a zig-zag line in its web.


My husband gave me the bones of this haiku inspired by Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘Digging’ and I worked through several versions before arriving at this one.

About seaviewwarrenpoint

I am a writer, poetry facilitator and artist from Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland. My blog is Twitter @MarionSClarke
This entry was posted in haiku, photo haiku and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Matrix NI’s ‘sci-ku’ challenge

  1. helenlaycock says:

    Well, first of all, well done on making so many appearances on the shortlist, Marion!

    And, as it turned out, the wrong place was almost the right place after all – just look what it inspired you to write.

    ‘Sci-ku’… love that! Yet another string to your bow.


  2. Liz Young says:

    Such a discipline is too disciplined for me, but you’ve got it cracked!

    • Thanks, Liz. I never write haiku in 5-7-5 syllables – same way I don’t write sonnets with all those iambic pentameters and stuff! 😮 I would do for a challenge or an as exercise in my writing group though.

      It’s got to the stage where I don’t have to count syllables when I write a haiku now – I kind of know when it feels too long.

      Thanks for commenting 🙂


  3. I enjoyed reading it 🙂 good job

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