Science in Seventeen Syllables: 3.9.2 Haiku

Gabriele.Uenzelmann-Neben [ at ]


3.9.2. haiku captures scientific exploration and discovery as it took place in remote locales, far from the public eye. It invites audiences of all ages to engage with cores from the privileged point-of-view of researchers who were the first to see, smell and touch material from deep under the ocean floor; who, after watching the cores be split open, spent hours analyzing each centimeter. Their poems, and especially their readings of them, reveal not only the cores but also the scientists as they experience anticipation, frustration, awe, excitement and wonder. It turns out that haiku is an especially relevant way to package stories from cores of mud and rock from the Cretaceous period, which was the focus of IODP Expedition 392 to the Agulhas Plateau. An ancient poetic form consisting of 17 syllables in three lines (5-7-5), haiku compactly and powerfully captures moments of time . . . moments that, on the surface, may appear unremarkable—a frog jumping. Moments that resonate with the deep truths that emerge from paying close attention to the natural world. When introduced to the concept of 3.9.2 haiku, more than one brilliant researcher balked: “I’m no good at this. . . I can’t write poetry.” During several writing workshops conducted during the expedition, scientists began to recognize haiku as the linguistic equivalent to cores they were studying. They delighted that a dozen (or fewer) precisely packaged words could align so closely with the cores precisely drilled from the Agulhas Plateau. Each individual haiku is a gem. Strung together, they are a trove of impressions that span millennia.

Item Type
Conference (Talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Event Details
AGU Fall meeting, 12 Dec 2022 - 16 Dec 2022, Chicago, USA.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Yakutchik, M. , Cotterill, C. , Uenzelmann-Neben, G. , Bohaty, S. M. and Childress, L. B. , IODP Expedition 392 Science Party (2022): Science in Seventeen Syllables: 3.9.2 Haiku , AGU Fall meeting, Chicago, USA, 12 December 2022 - 16 December 2022 .

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