Health Haiku Competition 2021

The #slowchathealth blog site has always had a healthy relationship with poetry.

In 2015 I wrote Using Poetry in the Health Classroom, in which I shared how I introduce each of new group of health students to Taylor Mali‘s An Apple a Day is Not Enough from 2010. I described it as “…a passionate, well composed and powerful poem. A poem so powerful that there would be spontaneous applause.” Sharing details of my interactions with the author on social media I am able to use Mali’s poem to get students to see health through a more holistic lens, which provides the perfect ramp for increased engagement for the rest of our time together in class.

In that same blog post, I mention how Scott Todnem encourages students to extend their journaling practices into poems. Scott said that he uses To This Day by Shane Koyczan. Scott told me that he asks his students to break down Shane’s poem in class with a print out of his words and a discussion about what the stanzas mean to the students as they relate to the topics of self-esteem, bullying, mental health, etc.

A few years later, as part of the inaugural #Microblog event Allisha Blanchette wrote about her innovative poetry activity in Haiku in Health & PE: Mindfulness in Motion. Allisha sensed that meditation was good for relaxing the body and calming the mind and soul, but questioned wether it always need to be achieved through stillness. “I have often thought that sport & activity is poetry in motion but have never known how to connect the two–until I created a Haiku based on the cathartic senses I received from motion.” she wrote.

Allisha’s blog post inspired me to challenge my students to write health-themed haiku’s which ultimately spawned last years #HealthHaiku hashtag. There were high school and college student entries, along with some great haiku from teachers on social media. The haiku mentioned in the tweet below was eventually chosen as the winner, and Casey Langendorfer won a copy of Hacking Classroom Management by Mike Roberts.

My students rose to the challenge and I was inundated with #HealthHaiku submissions. Here’s a selection of some of my favorites, with the student-winner being the haiku in the bottom right hand corner of this image.

And so to the rules of this years competition. You are invited to write a health-themed haiku – the typical pattern is three lines following a structure of 5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables. You might be inspired by any of the examples above, or take your haiku in a completely different direction. As long as the theme is health and wellness inspired, it will be perfect for the competition.

How to enter: Click on this link to share your #HealthHaiku. You may enter more than once if you wish, and the deadline for entries is November 15th, 2021.

Just like last year, the winning entry will win a book. This year’s book up for grabs is the awesome Move: How the New Science of Body Movement Can Set Your Mind Free from Caroline Williams. Already available in the UK, this book will be the #slowchathealth Book of the Month for January, when it gets its official US release.

“Veteran science journalist Caroline Williams explores the cutting-edge research behind brain health and physical activity, interviewing scientists from around the world to completely reframe our relationship to movement. Along the way she reveals easy tricks that we could all use to improve our memory, maximize our creativity, strengthen our emotional literacy and more. A welcome counterpoint to the current mindfulness craze, Move offers a more stimulating and productive way of freeing our caged minds to live our best lives.”

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