Can You sci-ku?

  • by National Office
  • 27 July, 2012
Can You sci-ku?

Electronic sign showing a scrolling sci-kuI love exploring the junction where art and science meet. National Science Week is the perfect platform to showcase how these seemingly disjunct disciplines have the capacity to enrich each other. From SCINEMA screenings (science meets cinema), to visual art and theatre, the arts help us explore scientific concepts in new ways.

The RiAus annual sci-ku competition, part of the Great Big Science Read, is another child of the art–science marriage. You’re given three lines, just three short lines, to convey a scientific ‘eureka’ moment through haiku. Now in its third year, the competition has proven a wonderful way for scientists to delve into the world of poetry, and for aspiring poets to tackle the challenges of science. We receive entries from people with vastly different backgrounds, and varying ages (from primary kids to retirees), all trying their hand at ancient Japanese poetry.

Last year the standard was strikingly high, and we expect this year to be no different. Take the winner of the 2011 open category, Laurinda Bailey:


A climate library
slowly documenting the seasons,
ring by silent ring.


So many ideas, and such strong imagery captured in just eleven words. Impressive stuff.

Each year we ask entrants to address a particular theme. In recognition of the 2012 Australian Year of the Farmer, we are asking people to submit poems about farming or agriculture. From GM crops to vertical farming and food security, there is a plethora of science that can be explored. Our staff members are already getting excited, and have produced a couple of great sci-kus:


Wind blows, seasons change
Research broadens farmer’s range
Try new ideas, then start again


Canopies of curlicued parsley
Basil fronds craning for a patch of window-light
My tiny farm.


So now it’s your turn: can you sci-ku?

Guest post by Kiran Shettigara, RiAus.

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