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Haiku Harvest

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This activity gives participants the opportunity to gather reflections and distill/synthesize learnings through creative and lateral thinking. It can add humor and be a springboard for sharing insights.


This method asks participants to reflect upon a specific topic, issue, experience, or learning by distilling reactions into a short poetic form. This distillation process can be way to imaginatively, intuitively, and playfully respond in a way that disrupts habituated language and thought patterns. This method can create space for people who naturally process or express information in non-linear ways and challenges those who are used to traditional linear forms to stretch their capacities. Limiting the number of words and creating structure can stimulate creativity.

Variation 1

This can be combined with metaphorical thinking. Example, writing a poem from the perspective of a mountain about your project or about the topic.

Variation 2

Use a form of “found poetry” in which words from existing texts (or post-its and meeting notes) are re-organized to form new meanings.  


  1. Introduce the concept of poetic reflections. Emphasize that the poetry does not have to rhyme or even make literal sense. Also that this should be playful - that there is not a “correct” way to do it.
  2. Ask participants to spend three minutes free writing in their notebooks, or on their computers. Once again emphasize that this process should feel free and easy. Ask them to write down words that pop-up or phrases or even images or colors or smells and sounds.
  3. Next, ask everyone to pause for a moment. Explain the structure of Haiku [5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables] and offer some examples. Be clear that this is just a suggested form and that anything close will be fine. The idea is to make it short and concise.
  4. Now ask people to write their poem. They can go back through their notes and circle some key words in their notes for inspiration or you can use prompts such as random words in a basket, magnetic poetry, or Haikubes.
  5. Finally, ask people to share their poems in pairs or small groups of no more than 4 people.
  6. Ask people to discuss any insights, images, or ideas that came out of the process.
  7. If people want to, several can be shared in plenary. Poems can be posted on the wall. They can also be included in the record of the event.

Fun note

The international Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) has a tradition (since 2001) of summarizing key papers in Haiku. Example: Renee Weber’s summation of the paper “Thermal Moonquakes: Implications for Surface Properties” Sunrise and sunset | Cracking, creaking, and rumbling | The Moon never rests

Place on U
5 - 15 minutes
Materials Needed

Haikubes can be a useful way to get things started

Online Engagement
Metaphorical Thinking
Tip and Experiences

Reassure participants that the Haiku structure doesn’t have to be followed rigidly - it is intended as a limiting factor to spark creativity.

Relevant References & Resources

Prendergast, M. (2006). Found poetry as literature review: Research poems on audience and performance. Qualitative Inquiry, 12(2), 369-388.

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