Haikus for the NHS poetry project


On Saturday, 4 March, demonstrators will march on London in support of the UK’s National Health Service.

Against a backdrop of gross underfunding, continued cuts and closures of NHS services, and the increasing trend towards marketization and privatisation, the Conservative party are destroying one of the greatest achievements of working class people in Britain. The march (more details of which can be found here) is therefore more than just a demonstration; but about sending a clear message to the narrow, greedy minds of those in government: “the NHS will last as long as there are folk with the faith to fight for it.”

Well, as right-thinking creatives we feel bound to do just this: fight for the NHS. We may not have money or the backing of powerful corporate interests; but we do have art; we have writing; we have poetry.

Since Percy Bysshe Shelley penned The Masque of Anarchy, in response to the massacre of working class protestors at Peterloo, poetry has been a crucial part of protest and struggle.

We’re looking to use the power of poetry as protest – specifically, the power of haikus as protest – in support of the NHS.

Often, people think of protest poetry as the spoken word kind – perhaps in the vein of Gil Scott Heron’s searing satirical masterpiece ‘The revolution will not be televised’ – but we are looking for ideas that are witty and powerful precisely because they are expressed in haiku, that most meditative, ‘least shouty’ of forms.

We will be printing the winning Haikus and distributing these liberally during the NHS demonstration in London. The winning poet will also receive a limited printed edition collection of their haikus, along with a £25 book voucher.

All other haikus that we receive in support of the NHS will also be published online here at Nothing in the Rulebook.

To get the ball rolling with the project, our team have penned the following haikus:


Found in waiting rooms:

The hands of those that hold us

First and last, with love


Greedy May would say,

“Privatise the NHS”

Tell her to fuck off


Two different styles there, you might say. We hope you enjoy ours: we can’t wait to read yours.

To get involved with the project, the process is simple:

  1. Follow us on Twitter (@NITRB_Tweets) and ‘Like’ us on Facebook
  2. Share a link to this webpage with the hashtag #NHSHaikus, making sure you tag us in the post.
  3. Then email us with your name and haiku submission at nothingintherulebook@gmail.com

Multiple submissions are welcomed, so please feel free to send us more than one haiku.

To the poetic barricades, comrades!

Please note that we will only be able to consider haikus for printed publication that are submitted before the 20th February. However, we will continue to publish haikus we receive after that deadline online. 




Entries for this project are now closed and the winner has now been announced. 

You can read the winning haiku, along with short- and long-listed entries online. 

If you are interested in getting involved in future projects, please contact us. 

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