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#HighscoreHaikus : Exhibition combines poetry and gaming

by Now Then Sheffield
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Donkey Kong Country

Do videogames and poetry go together like Sonic and Tails - or do they leave you feeling cheated? Highscore Haikus was a fun collaboration between Sheaf Poetry Festival and Sheffield's National Videogame Museum, located at Castle House in the city centre.

Tucked away near the back of the arcade, surrounded by button-bashing gamers, this dinky poetry exhibition could easily go unnoticed. A glass display case, normally reserved for the archive's vintage gaming paraphernalia, holds a collection of haikus.

The pieces express how new writers Bella Fortune and John-Paul Burns felt after playing certain videogames at NVM. Not to trivialise gaming, but they are surprisingly deep.

"I grew up in this country / my heart / is a revolving banana," could be about nationality. But no, this was John-Paul's poem about Donkey Kong Country. "a plumber sprints at full tilt / leaps headfirst / into a portrait of Spring," took me right back to playing Super Mario 64 to death at my oldest friend's house. I never had my own Nintendo 64 console, but I did have a huge crush on Mario. JP understood the joy of running around a palace and jumping into other worlds.

Bella's haikus are playful and follow the traditional form more closely. "Lead the way teasing trickster," evoked the intrigue of There is No Game. "Copying my moves / The kids in America / Can't put a foot wrong," was perhaps less sweary than a Dancing Stage Fusion poem should be.

"A haiku is a type of Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five," read an introductory card, alongside an invitation to share your own using #HighscoreHaikus.

The hashtag seems tragically unused, so here is my haiku about the frankly horrifying Hello Kitty World.

"I'm Hello Kitty

I place a bow in my hair

And can burn to death"

Natalie Mills

by Now Then Sheffield

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