Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NYC uses Haiku to bring Poetry to the Streets

by Lynnda
with added 12/22 P.S. from aleks

What a surprise to stumble upon a story about New York City and the use of haiku to provide traffic safety reminders.  This article was aired on December 3, 2011 on NPR's Weekend Edition.  Each haiku is accompanied by boldly colored graphics to illustrate the potential problems of inattention to the warnings. 

Artist John Morse designed 12 signs for display around the five boroughs.  Here are three of the signs.  To see the full story, and see all of the signs, follow this link: haiku in NYC

    John Morse/NYC DOT
"One of the joys of doing this sort of thing is how many people have responded to it with their own haiku," Morse says. "There's just a plethora of haiku coming out. It's so exciting."

Haiku is traditionally thought of as Japanese poetry that involves imagery of nature and how that is experienced by the poet.  The standard haiku has three lines and a total of 17 syllables, usually in a 5-7-5 rhythm.

If you feel creative, write your own haiku and leave it as a comment!
P.S. from aleks:  Metro Transit Seattle had a long lasting (1992-2007) public art project 'Poetry on Buses', which started with haiku form, I believe, then moved into more free form.  Here are links to:
 • Seattle Weekly 2007 article about 'Poetry on Buses'  by Rachel Shimp
King County Metro Transit archive of 'Poetry on Buses'  1997-2007 - enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. when i temporarily lived in boston a friend from seattle sent me for christmas a lovely collection of poems (including haiku) created on the buses and published by King County Metro Transit. it was a treasure to read: people capturing their thoughts and feelings while riding or waiting for the bus, noting the scenery and other commuters, complaining in verse about the rain, and so on.

    i just checked the internet and learned that this long lasting (since 1992) public art project was sadly retired in 2007:(.

    i'm going to sneak into Lynnda's post and add P.S.- active links for:
    1.) 'seattle weekly' article about 'poetry on buses':
    2.) Metro Transit archive of the poetry project

    It looks like most poets couldn't stay within 3 haiku lines, but who says they should?:) here is an example i copied from 1992 archive:


    On a cool sea breeze she comes in from the west,

    the Rain Woman, the ocean's daughter,

    dressed in windblown tattered grey that smells of the sea.

    She is bringing me stories from her mother's house.
    Ross TenEyck grew up in Oregon and moved to Seattle after graduating from Caltech. He has an M.S. from the University of Washington and works as an engineer and programmer.