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How to Write a Pi-ku

April 17 is Haiku Poetry Day. A haiku (pronounced 'high-koo') is a type of short form poetry originally from Japan. Traditional Japanese haiku consist of seventeen phonetic units, which are arranged in three phrases in a 5-7-5 pattern. Haiku written in English consist of seventeen syllables, arranged in three lines in a 5-7-5 pattern.

Here is our humble attempt at a haiku about our Maths Week Scotland 23 theme:

MWS 23 Haiku

So what does this have to do with maths? Well, apart from the numerical pattern of lines and syllables, there is a variation on haiku with a mathematical twist, a pi-ku! (pronounced 'pie-koo')

A pi-ku is a poem that follows the form of a haiku, but instead of the 5-7-5 haiku pattern, the syllables in a pi-ku follow the number of digits in the mathematical constant pi (π). Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. Regardless of the circle's size the ratio will always equal pi, approximately 3.14 though its decimals are infinite.

So, instead of 5-7-5, a pi-ku would follow the pattern 3-1-4, like in this pi-ku from the International Centre for Mathematical Studies:


You can also expand beyond three lines, by continuing to follow the digits of pi. The first ten decimals of pi are 3.1415926535... Each additional line of your pi-ku would have the same number of syllables as the next digit of pi.

During last year's Maths Week Scotland, Simon Madine from Edinburgh shared the following pi-ku poems with us:

Piku Simon 01
Piku Simon 02 v2

And on this year's Pi Day in March, an S3 class from Kilmarnock wrote a fantastic collection of pi-ku and have kindly allowed us to share some of them here:

Piku S3 Kilmarnock March 23

It's great if your piku doesn't just follow the digits of pi but is also about maths, however, the connection can be quite loose, like in these two pi-ku playing on pi/pie sounding the same:

Piku I love Pie

The following two piku in particular made us smile. Apparently the pupil writing about disliking maths was quick to clarify that it was hypothetical. Phew! And although the Rick Astley piku (or should that be Ri-cku?) veers away from the maths theme, we felt it was a work of genius.

Piku who likes maths and Rick Astley

Many thanks to ICMS, Simon, and Mr Craig and his class from Kilmarnock, for sharing their pi-ku with us. We hope they have inspired you to write your own pi-ku! Don't forget to share them with us too on Twitter or Facebook, and use the hashtag #MathsWeekScot.

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