Thursday, 20 May 2010

The Football Haiku (俳句) World Cup

The Football Haiku World Cup is a project based on the writing of haiku (俳句) poetry specifically geared to the football/soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010. We want to publish beautiful poetry written by you to accompany the beautiful game. We will be accepting football haiku for publication right up to the end of the tournament (11th July 2010) and everyday will update the ebook of haiku which you can read and download at the Download Ebook section of this blog.

Please do not worry if you do not consider yourself to be a writer or a poet: the beauty of haiku is its simplicity, universality and flexibility. Whoever you are around the world, we would love to hear your voice in haiku form.


To send us football haiku written by you, please contact

Meet the editorial team

To become a patron or supporter of the project, please see our patron and supporters page and then contact

Or click on the following link for ideas on how to contribute and support the project.

You can find us at Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. You can also join the Facebook Fanpage.

Firstly, we would like to offer the following poem, written by ADRIANA PICCARDO, one of our editorial team, to the memory of the World Cup opera singer Siphiwo Ntshebe, who has just passed away at the age of 34:

We will miss your voice
Should have been in the party
Siphiwo Ntshebe

To help get you started writing see samples of World Cup football haiku received so far. We are honoured to be have been permission to publish the following wonderful football haiku by Matthew Paul as examples and inspiration to you when you write yours. These were not written specifically for the World Cup but they are examples of football haiku at its best. Please visit Matthew Paul's website for more. Pictured below is the front cover of the book "Wing Beats" co-written by Matthew Paul and John Barlow.

the floodlights brighten
above the stadium
cacophonous geese

leafless park
a sausage dog defends
the penalty area

sunshine / through the goal-net / bumblebees

losing at home...
the flick of a divot
in the linesman's sprint

beneath the floodlights
a winger's shadow
darts in four directions

Also, just as we were putting the finishing touches to our Facebook Fanpage, we discovered another football World Cup Haiku Fanpage as well. They have provided us with the elegant formulation below (in the 5-7-5 syllable formation that many poets do not work with):

If it's good enough,

Maybe your haiku can win

the Haiku World Cup


You can write haiku about any aspect of the 2010 South Africa World Cup or about football World Cups in the past.

If you need further help focusing the mind, a basic question could be "What has the football World Cup ever done for us?" based on the Monty Python question "What have the Romans ever done for us?" This is in part inspired by the World Cup Buzz ebook "What the World Cup means to Me".

Haiku is a Japanese form of short poetry. There is some room for flexibility over the precise syllable length of haiku and we will accept free-form haiku as well as haiku that are composed of 5 syllables in the first line, 7 in the second, and 5 in the third. With Words have a guide at their website. There is a starting guide to writing here. An excellent video is Dylan's Practical Haiku Guide. Another helpful video is this one by Laura from Young Writer's Workshops. Listening to some of Jack Kerouac's American Haiku might help the flow of the pen. Scribblepad also have some tips. Haiku for People is also a valuable resource. Jane Reichold has outlined a number of different techniques. There is also an excellent list of haiku blogs and haiku sites that has been compiled by Matt Morden at the Morden Haiku blog. A daily feed of traditional haiku at Twitter has been created by Dailyku. And finally...for something completely different...a Facebook group dedicated to ludicrous haiku called Global Ridiculous Haiku Club.

For more information on the rules and form of haiku, please see this Wikipedia entry.

Writers from anywhere in the world are encouraged to send in work. Writers can send in haiku in any language, though it would be helpful to us if you can provide an English translation as well (but not necessary). It is a World Cup, after all, which is as much a festival of language as a festival of football. Hopefully our finished work will contain parallel text haiku in English, a feast of other languages, and (hopefully!) Esperanto, if the translation work can be achieved to deadline.

For anybody who is interested in learning more about the Japanese language, Jim Breen's Monash University website is highly recommended.

Please send your haiku to

Image on right: posthumous portrait of the Japanese artist Hiroshige by Toyokuni III

The basic idea is very simple.

Firstly, there is an ongoing ebook of the haiku we receive that can be downloaded. People downloading that ebook can choose to pay any amount that they like, based on the same funding model as the seminal Radiohead album "In Rainbows". So please send your haiku to us as soon as possible. And please download the ebook and pass word on about it across your networks.

After that, in the long-term, those haiku can be put together along with specially commissioned illustrations for a book that will be published and available in shops at a set price. We are interested to hear from artists and designers. We have a profile at Deviant Art where you can contact us.

Image on left: "The Great
Wave off Kanagawa" by Hokusai (1823-9)

Of the initial money that is received from those donating for the downloadable ebook, 25% will go to the small team orchestrating and editing the ebook. 25% will be paid equally to contributors of haiku that are selected to be part of the project. 25% will be provided as special prizes to the writers of the three haiku that are voted as the best by readers of the ebook. The remaining 25% will be given to a football-related good cause voted on by contributors and readers of the ebook. So if you contribute a poem or download the ebook, please also send over the name of the football-related good cause you would like to see money donated to to

As the poet E.J.Thribb might write

"Er...that's it."

Image above: haiku master Basho by Kinkoku, c.1820

"Haiku shows us what we knew all the time, but did not know we knew; it shows us that we are poets in so far as we live at all." ~ R.H. Blyth"

World Cup.

Word Cup.

Word Up.