April 23, 2020

Mapping the lockdown – in crowd-sourced haiku

Project Haiflu is a spectacular collective act of poetry, photograph, music and film involving more than 8,000 crowd-sourced haiku, more than 500 “citizen artists”, 13 films and a newly-minted hybrid artform uniquely adapted to the nation’s creative needs during pandemic: it’s been featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, in The Times and continues to inspire hundreds of people to write poems. We at Forward Arts Foundation are very proud of our involvement.

Project Haiflu, the story of 3 months of lockdown, started with one poet’s attempt to check how her friends were feeling when life-as-they-knew it stopped in March. Tell me what you’ve noticed, in haiku form, just 3 lines and 5-7-5 syllables, Liv Torc, spoken word artist, asked on Facebook. Oh, and add a picture. I’ll pull them together into a weekly film. 

The response was overwhelming.  Thousands of people watched the films each week and, inspired, tried their hand in turn. National Poetry Day, Forward Arts Foundation, Arts Council England and the British Library gave their support. In June, hundreds of libraries across the UK became haiflu hubs, inviting their communities to build a picture of what was happening locally – see the Library Haiflu film below or on YouTube. Check out Liv’s compilation film, which shows how responses to the pandemic have developed, through patterns of fear, outrage, resilience, humour and hope, against the backdrop of the changing seasons.



The project is now in the hands of the libraries and schools and all who wish to use the idea to keep making and keep sharing. Organisations that want to do a haiflu call-out should first check out Liv’s website, email her and download the Haiflu Branding Guidelines and logos below.


Haiflu logo

Haiflu Branding Guidelines

Haiflu logo (standard)

Haiflu logo (white)

Powerpoint slides from Haiflu webinar

View Liv’s How-To #haiflu film – as one 4m version, or three super-shareable shorter versions – and head to Liv’s website for more.



Schools: check out this step-by-step guide from Jyoti Careswell, Head of English and Media at Lister School (@Ms_Careswell on Twitter). She challenged her students to write #haiflu of their own, and now you can do the same.


What the project has achieved

A powerful, original and deeply moving social history

  • A new word ‘haiflu’ and a new way of coming together and being creative online
  • 8,000+ contributions of haiflu and photographs posted on social media
  • 600 total contributions from 300+ people included in the weekly films
  • 12 weekly short films have been made and shared
  • 1 special film for UK libraries
  • More than 25k people have seen at least one of the films
  • Over 300 film stills have been made
  • Featured on the BBC Make A Difference Poetry Podcast & BBC Local Radio on 29 May
  • A spin off project for MIND in Somerset for Mental Health Awareness week
  • Haiflu has been used as the basis for two multi-school competitions
  • Liv has received over 200 positive case studies from participants citing how the project has  positively affected their wellbeing during lockdown