The 2011 John Brooks Haiku Invitational.

11 Feb 2011  |  Posted by GARETH  |  Categories: Events

Regular readers will be aware that we have been rummaging about in our now no longer highly secret underground vault at the Smethwick Works over the last few weeks.

The 1880′s Brooks catalogues we unearthed would appear to have been only the proverbial tip of a truly mammoth iceberg of (some would say literally priceless) antique saddles, commemorative jerseys and other assorted Brooks paraphernalia.

But much like our good friend Kara Ginther, we prefer to see our work in motion rather than hanging on a gallery wall, so various disappointed auctioneers have been politely informed that our precious finds will not be going under the hammer.

They will, instead, largely be going under a few very lucky posteriors.

When the time has come (as it now has) to part with a set of objects whose monetary value is virtually incalculable, the sane person can nowadays have recourse to only one method of dispersal…

The Haiku competition.

We give entrants seventeen syllables to capture a special moment in the saddle. Following the semi-strict guidelines laid down on the Wikipedia page “Haiku”, budding poets may wish to mention the time of year in which they set their haiku, or “implicitly contrast and compare two events, images, or situations”.

The main things, though, are seventeen syllables, and moment in saddle. Some examples-

“The body is carried
Entirely upon the broad
Part of the seat”.

The foregoing has been lifted straight out of the 1912 Brooks catalogue. All it really has going for it is its regulation seventeen syllables. Imaginative verbal conjuring on the reader’s part could certainly get it into bona fide Haiku territory, but poetry should be two-way traffic, and contestants are warned anyway that the practise of cutting and pasting sticks out like a sore thumb, and our judging panel takes a very dim view of it.

“Steep hill, sloppy cadence.
Hare finds wet ditch
As I hyperventilate.”

This is more like it. According to the usual search engine searches, it hasn’t been cogged from somewhere else. Seventeen – check. Moment – check. Saddle – check.  Maybe a little too punchy, but submitting work of this standard to the “2011 John Brooks Haiku Invitational” could still result in the author opening a large parcel with a Smethwick postmark on it in a few weeks’ time.

“Snow melts. I take the corner
Sharply, and regret fitting
Studded tires.”

The big question here, of course, is how many syllables are there in the word “tires”? The answer is one, so we can take a look at the subject matter. For sure, there’s a seasonal cycling moment eloquently captured. It’s certainly worthy of a podium position. Having said that, there are currently only three entries, and one of them has been disqualified for plagiarism.

Get poem-ing and submit your entries here in this post’s Comment Section, or under the “Brooks Haiku Competition” in the Discussions Section of our Facebook page. We hope to publish progress reports as the submissions begin to flood in, singling out our favourites for a bit of the old red-pen treatment.

We cannot emphasize enough quite how special, unique and beautiful our available Brooks prizes are. Certainly worth seventeen syllables of your time over the course of a lazy weekend.

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  1. Ann Schneider 
    Posted 3:52 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Snow filled environ
    Velo dreams left unfulfilled
    Sun and hopes arise

  2. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:02 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Miles glide below
    Legs churning on, buttery,
    Brooks leather abides.

  3. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:08 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    No pain here. Not numb.
    Can’t believe how far I’ve come.
    Leather butt hammock.

  4. Ann Schneider 
    Posted 4:10 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Steep descent thrilling

    Machine parts and body in sync

    Handle bar slip spills

  5. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:15 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    If I keep riding
    Maybe you’ll be able to
    See the brass rivets.

  6. Adam Zlotnick 
    Posted 4:18 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Sweet Proofide
    Sun on hammered rivets
    Ride to the river
    Love Freedom

  7. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:25 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    My new bicycle.
    My eighteen year old saddle.
    A perfect marriage.

  8. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:48 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    A vanishing point
    To which the road disappears
    I pedal onward.

  9. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:51 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    My hands tense. Brakes squeal.
    Switchback. Straightaway. Switchback.
    I wanna do it again!

  10. Bryan Rierson 
    Posted 4:54 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Hammering warms me
    As the crisp air bites my face
    Water bottles freeze.

  11. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 4:56 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Arms sore. Hands cramping.
    Lactic acid soaks my legs.
    (My bum’s SO comfy.)

  12. Twells 
    Posted 4:58 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    All around leaves fall
    They crunch as I roll along
    Cool air fills my lungs.

  13. Ken Wolfe 
    Posted 5:00 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    After such a climb,
    Gravity becomes my friend.
    King of the World, Ma!

  14. Andrew Marchant-Shapiro 
    Posted 5:21 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Up and over hill
    Tires whining on asphalt I
    fly and speak with gods

  15. TWells 
    Posted 5:38 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    All around leaves fall,
    They crunch as I roll along.
    Cool air fills my lungs.
    Bitter cold descends.
    Despite the ice I ride on,
    The journey beckons.

    The sun warms cold soil.
    I ride past new daffodils,
    Sweet smells fill the air.

    Warm moist air hangs thick
    Downshifting I sprint onward.
    The ride is the goal.

  16. Twells 
    Posted 5:41 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    I apologize for the re-submission, the format was mangled…
    Four Haiku in series, intoning the spirit of each season.

    All around leaves fall,
    They crunch as I roll along.
    Cool air fills my lungs.

    Bitter cold descends.
    Despite the ice I ride on,
    The journey beckons.

    The sun warms cold soil.
    I ride past new daffodils,
    Sweet smells fill the air.

    Warm moist air hangs thick
    Downshifting I sprint onward.
    The ride is the goal.

  17. Thom Denton 
    Posted 6:09 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    May I submit more than one please? If not please accept number 1/ as my contribution to your wondrous game.



    Silent blossoms fall
    obscuring hasty repairs,
    Wheels whir softly


    Winter frost makes
    eyes water from gravity’s


    In low and out high,
    Back wheel escapes control, that
    must be the black ice


    Legs pumping through rain,
    the constriction shows cyclists
    can’t wear skinny jeans

    I put these on the Facebook page also, but this way you have all my details.

  18. Reid 
    Posted 6:17 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Lovely worn saddle
    cradles my buttocks concave
    toward vanishing point

  19. Reid 
    Posted 6:22 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    burning lungs hungry
    for more road and many miles
    go until I sleep

  20. Michael Perry 
    Posted 7:00 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    A nice Brooks saddle
    Will last my butt a life time,
    Makes my bike classy.

  21. Michael Perry 
    Posted 7:19 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    In case you’d not feel comfortable publishing my “butt” :-}

    A nice Brooks saddle
    Will serve my seat a life time,
    Makes my bike classy

  22. Ian Facer 
    Posted 7:38 pm
    11 Feb 2011

    Tarmac is hot and
    Legs are aching. Cross the line,
    Last. But arms aloft.

  23. Reid 
    Posted 12:16 am
    12 Feb 2011

    Here, dissolve yourself
    Into this saddle, you’ll have
    No complications

  24. trevor 
    Posted 1:22 am
    13 Feb 2011

    on the path racer
    drop down into a deep tuck
    must outrun the sun

    stop for a late supper
    back outside turn on the light
    only 100km to go

    sunny warm spring day
    hibernation is over
    i have miles to ride

    early morning ride
    took right hand corner too fast
    here comes the asphalt

  25. Jennifer Friesen 
    Posted 1:58 am
    13 Feb 2011

    handlebar flower
    longs to dance, to reach to fly
    shore breeze comes to play

  26. Jennifer Friesen 
    Posted 1:59 am
    13 Feb 2011

    target just ahead
    legs outstretched, eyes closed tight
    puddle sprays fender

  27. Becca McCauley 
    Posted 2:00 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Flying down the hill,
    Wheels spinning, wind rushing by…
    A cat appears…Crash!

    Slowly pedaling,
    Heart pounding, sweat dripping down,

  28. Becca McCauley 
    Posted 2:01 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Flying down the hill,
    Wheels spinning, wind rushing by…
    A cat appears…Crash!

  29. Becca McCauley 
    Posted 2:01 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Slowly pedaling,
    Heart pounding, sweat dripping down,

  30. Jennifer Friesen 
    Posted 4:09 am
    13 Feb 2011

    squeaky front hub sings
    annoying to others
    my sweet lullaby

  31. David Barnard 
    Posted 8:47 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Pounding, pumping heart
    Back down into the saddle
    Ragged breath, open road

  32. Liz Farnworth 
    Posted 9:10 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Bike straddled
    Roads travelled
    Comfortable, on my trusty Brooks saddle

  33. Liz Farnworth 
    Posted 9:15 am
    13 Feb 2011

    Sorry I sent off my haiku without putting in the title bit, but I am sure you guessed that. I repeat it below just in case…

    Bike straddled
    Roads travelled
    Comfortable, on my trusty Brooks saddle

  34. Liz Farnworth 
    Posted 9:27 am
    13 Feb 2011

    It doesn’t say if you are restricted to one entry… here’s another for the chance of winning your super prize

    Cogs, wheels, and pedals turn,
    Chains thrum,
    Tyres hiss,
    Miles pass,
    Brooks, cakes and tea…

  35. George Plumbly 
    Posted 12:37 pm
    13 Feb 2011

    In the hands of the maker:

    Whether the leather
    Or the way it is treated
    Hot – cold best seated

    Or in the hands of the rider:

    Weather the leather
    Proofide for a special treat
    All year – your shape seat

  36. Paul Betts 
    Posted 3:48 pm
    13 Feb 2011

    Heart thumping up hill
    Eyes streaming on the descent
    Brakes not working HELP!!!

  37. Charlie worsfold 
    Posted 10:25 pm
    13 Feb 2011

    Winter sun, Crisp frosty hills, Seat,  
    All rising low, 
    Comfort the worn Brookes  

  38. Seamus Kelly 
    Posted 12:37 am
    14 Feb 2011

    Lungs gulp brittle air
    Lower gears heavier tyres
    The season begins

  39. Seamus Kelly 
    Posted 12:42 am
    14 Feb 2011

    Pick a line, no brakes
    Relax and look well ahead,
    Nail it every time

  40. Seamus Kelly 
    Posted 12:46 am
    14 Feb 2011

    Victor’s arms held high
    Looser barely hides his pain
    Did the best man win?

  41. Becca McCauley 
    Posted 2:36 am
    14 Feb 2011

    Spring breezes, spokes whirl
    As bikes whiz by, elated.
    A young doe looks on.

  42. Ann Schneider 
    Posted 7:22 pm
    14 Feb 2011

    Riding perfection

    warm sun, cool breeze, flawless shifts

  43. Ann Schneider 
    Posted 7:22 pm
    14 Feb 2011

    riding perfection

    warm sun, cool breeze, flawless shifts

    saddle unnoticed

  44. fullface 
    Posted 10:57 am
    15 Feb 2011

    Autumn rain falling
    a perfect day far from home
    no cape, leather saddle

  45. fullface 
    Posted 11:06 am
    15 Feb 2011

    hot hot day no clouds
    sweat dripping saturated clothes
    wanting skin against leather

  46. fullface 
    Posted 11:18 am
    15 Feb 2011

    On top of the hill
    waiting for the dropped ones
    warm saddle cold toes

  47. Brent Badeaux 
    Posted 4:07 pm
    15 Feb 2011

    Live oak acorns crushed
    by tires, my saddle is air
    cushioning the blows.

  48. fullface 
    Posted 9:24 am
    17 Feb 2011

    my green Brooks saddle
    now blackened from many miles
    no regrets, ever

  49. fullface 
    Posted 9:27 am
    17 Feb 2011

    my brooks saddle well used
    the green a blackened memory
    no regrets, ever

  50. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:18 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Sun melts lethargy
    under a blanket of snow,
    ride onward to spring

  51. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:25 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Pace and pulse quicken,
    rider and bike become one
    well-supported soul

  52. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:33 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Dreams hidden within
    a resonant lugged steel frame,
    my saddle my throne

  53. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:40 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    The road quivering,
    or perhaps my heart
    ecstasy on wheels

  54. Alex Benyon 
    Posted 8:51 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Upon a winter’s road
    I pick myself up

  55. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 9:45 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Mist droops tree branches
    drops strike me though my helmet
    rubber steel leather

  56. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 9:46 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    This morning it rains
    I have a saddle cover
    but must write haiku

  57. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 9:47 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    For a long distance
    I like a leather saddle
    It comforts like home

  58. Ron Leach 
    Posted 10:01 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Lost among the clouds
    thin air and gathering mist
    the valley beckons

  59. Ron Leach 
    Posted 10:41 pm
    17 Feb 2011

    Flying without wings
    atop a leather saddle
    on rideable art

  60. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 7:53 am
    18 Feb 2011

    No helmet felt good.
    I was young, wind in my face
    I had more hair then

  61. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 7:54 am
    18 Feb 2011

    The distance makes me
    anxious, angry. Thank you
    cow, for this saddle.

  62. Richard Kizu-Blair 
    Posted 7:55 am
    18 Feb 2011

    Like wool, leather is
    natural. Naturally,
    it makes me happy.

  63. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:09 pm
    18 Feb 2011

    The road quivering,
    or perhaps it is my heart
    ecstasy on wheels

  64. Ron Leach 
    Posted 7:15 pm
    18 Feb 2011

    Why leather why wool
    on a classic bicycle
    because it feels real

  65. Ron Leach 
    Posted 12:22 am
    19 Feb 2011

    Ease off the rivet
    enjoy the beauty of spring
    sit back and relax

  66. fullface 
    Posted 9:43 pm
    19 Feb 2011

    My green brooks saddle

    out lasted my marriages

    perfect winter ride

  67. Joe Morris 
    Posted 6:23 pm
    1 Mar 2011

    I struggle uphill,
    To get to the Hare and hounds,
    shit, chain has come off

  68. Terry Hutt 
    Posted 8:26 pm
    24 Mar 2011

    So hard to the hand
    Leather without spring is so
    soft to the bottom

  69. Anthony Waite 
    Posted 9:06 am
    25 Mar 2011

    No More
    I’m Free
    Thanks John Boulbee

  70. Peter Möricke 
    Posted 10:00 pm
    17 Nov 2011

    It is just not there.
    The autumn leaves have a familiar colour.
    Suddenly I realize my Brooks.