UCL News


UCL's 180th anniversary haiku poem competition

22 May 2006

More than 300 haikus were submitted by staff and students to a competition celebrating the 180th anniversary of UCL's founding.

Three were prizewinners and many more were highly commended.

First prize (£200) - Bob Barber (UCL Physics & Astronomy)

Housman you must weep
The tree that you loved is gone
And we the poorer

Second prize  (£150) - Professor John Klier (UCL Hebrew & Jewish Studies)

New nano-tech joint -
Should we not have expected
Something much smaller?

Third prize (£100) - Hannah Hudson (UCL English Language & Literature)

How to make your name
Mr Bentham taught us well -
Sit still and get stuffed

The haiku poems were judged by a panel comprising Professor John Sutherland, UCL's Emeritus Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature, Alan Gardner, UCL Union's Sabbatical Officer for Media & Communications, and Professor John Martin, Director of UCL's Centre for Cardiovascular Biology & Medicine and author of a book of poems and short stories, 'The Origin of Loneliness'.

On behalf of the judges, Alan said: "We felt that the standard of the entries was very high, with sparkling wit and subtle poetry characterising the best examples. For my own part, I felt our winner was blessed with a haunting profundity, befitting its evocation of our own great poet, A E Housman, whilst our pick for second was perhaps one of the funniest and most succinct of all the haikus. Third place goes to a study of UCL's great benefactor, Mr JB, and his own special recipe for success. Our task of picking the winners became remarkably difficult, only countered by being equally enjoyable!"

Professor Martin added: "The winner is a recognition of the inevitable sadness at the passage of time linked with change in the physical world. With poignancy it links us to Housman. It carries a regret for the past that the College must address in its advance to the future. I hope that non-humanities students may ask who was Housman, discovering his place in the College and his eminence as a poet. The haiku is centrally oriented: on the Quad, the trees in it and the renewal of the Slade. Most of UCL may not have noticed the removal of the Indian bean tree. The staff and students in the biomedical institutes should perhaps, through this haiku, be encouraged to come and look."