Twitter, haiku and the unveiling of the wonku

Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that you can now sign up for twitter feeds of new posts from this blog (under my mug shot to the right of this).

I have no intention of tweeting separately for the moment, partly because my son informed me,

grave of haiku master Yosa Buson
grave of haiku master Yosa Buson

in a voice dripping with scorn, that twitter is ‘just for old people pretending to be young’. Ouch. Also I don’t think I could cope with a 140 character limit. With one exception – why don’t we start a line in development wonk haiku (the 17 syllable Japanese poems – just the right length for a tweet). Added complication is they have to be three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables

We could call them wonku. You know, something like:

‘Conditional cash
transfers. A panacea?
Can’t be that easy.’


‘the Copenhagen
Action Plan: suicide note
from humanity?’

Wonku would provide us with ready-made responses to the dreaded ‘lift question’ (what would you say about your latest report to Ban Ki-moon/Barrack Obama etc if you found yourself in a lift with them?). And they could provide a great alternative to executive summaries. In fact, some of the clunkier titles of Oxfam policy papers are probably already wonku without us even realizing it (must check that sometime). Reckon they could catch on? If so, send me some. Copy of From Poverty to Power to the best (yes, yes, I know, two copies to the worst…..)

For the real thing, see here or this example from Ezra Pound, which has stuck in my head since I read it as a kid.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please see our Privacy Policy.

We use MailChimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to MailChimp for processing. Learn more about MailChimp's privacy practices here.


15 Responses to “Twitter, haiku and the unveiling of the wonku”
  1. takumo

    If you really want to be true to the haiku style, you also need to include a word or expression that (preferably implicitly) shows which season of the year you are in, which is causing you the emotion that you are putting in the haiku about. Now this makes it even harder to squeeze all of your development theory in!

  2. Kate

    I LOVE this idea. Here’s a few attempts:

    River blindness and
    Trachoma. Neglected but
    easily treated.

    MDG review
    Think of equity and rights
    Of those who miss out

    Research partnerships
    North and South work as equals?
    Some try, not there yet
    (ooh, controversial one)

    Better stop before I get a reputation as the Adrian Mole of policy wonkdom.

    Sorry, didn’t manage the seasonal overtones.

  3. Andrew R

    If it can’t be said
    in seventeen syllables,
    it’s not worth saying

    In our NGO, a few of us have been haiku-ing sporadically to each other for a few months, as an antidote to thick development-speak documents. Glad to hear there may be a movement afoot!

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.