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The Daily Tar Heel

Chapel Hill Public Library asks residents to pen haikus

“She was pregnant with his baby, and she still went to classes, but I’ve never seen anyone who looked as bleak,” DeJongh said. “I was pretty naive about the war then, so I wrote a poem about the soldiers.”

DeJongh submitted the poem for her college’s poetry class, and she has never forgotten it since.

“It’s one I kept in my brain,” she said. “It was more of a personal thing.”

Now, she’s submitting it to the Chapel Hill Public Library’s Community Haiku Project. A resident of Chapel Hill for more than 30 years, DeJongh visits the library to borrow books for her granddaughter every week.

The library’s second community haiku project celebrates National Poetry Month and National Library Week. Chapel Hill librarian and organizer Sarah Wagner said she suggested hosting the project to encourage community engagement.

“I was thinking it would be a fun way to get the community involved,” she said. “Haiku seems like a good way to keep it in a form that people can manage.”

Haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry with a specified structure. There are three lines that have five, seven and five syllables, respectively. There can only be a total of seventeen syllables in the poem.

“It’s not too hard, and people can be creative,” Wagner said.

The haiku submissions will be typed and printed on card stock that will be displayed in the library.

More than 10 haikus have already been submitted and are currently on display.

“Most of them are about the library, the space and reading,” Wagner said. “A couple are about nature, and one is about war.”

She said all the submissions will be compiled into a booklet for public viewing at the end of the project. All participants will also enter a random raffle for the book.

Longtime library patron Frank Barnes wrote his haiku about the contest itself.

“It was like a little bit of a joke,” Barnes said. “But I do love haikus.”

Barnes said he has lived in Chapel Hill since 1992, and the library was one of the first places he visited.

“I’ve lived in different parts of the country, and this is the best library we’ve seen,” he said. “It’s big, it has more services and the electronic magazine system is outstanding.”

Interested community members can submit haikus both online and in person. The instructions are available on the library’s website, together with an example of a haiku. The deadline for submission is April 15.

“I really enjoy seeing the different haikus come in,” Wagner said. “It’s really interesting seeing different perspectives and stories.”

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