Haikus everywhere, 5-7-5 all around, you just read one here
Over the past year or so I’ve observed haikus, that “less is more” form of Japanese poetry, making a quiet stealthy encroachment and presence upon online pop culture through a variety of means. Some of these I’ve mentioned around these SUNfiltered parts, which makes me wonder whether we’re witnessing an emergence of haikus and a comeback for the genre of poems in general back into something possibly more mainstream or at the least “meme-stream.” I had written earlier about a reader of the New York Times online edition who has gained some small measure of fame for his comments left in limerick form. The best recent example of the merging of pop culture with poetry occurred when Salman Rushdie tweeted his thoughts on the Kim Kardashian divorce in limerick form. In fact, the latest issue of New York Magazine’s Intelligencer focused on the poets or at least on the tough economic realities of that noble profession (Walt Whitman had a second job as a government clerk). If you’re not convinced of my thesis on the pop emergence of poems, but specifically haikus, I turn your attention to the following exhibits.
There’s a single serve Tumblr focused on loving tributes in haiku to Godzilla, our favorite metaphor in monster form of our fears of a nuclear world gone mad. The world of sports isn’t immune either to the delicate appeal of a seventeen syllable poem: Even as far back (ancient in Internet time) as 2007: The Grey Lady held a haiku contest in tribute to former Yankee coach Joe Torre. And if you go back even further to 2006, Vermont Public Radio commentator Peter Gilbert wondered aloud whether technology such as the tiny keyboard of the Blackberry “may give rise to a new poetic form – Blackberry haiku.” As culture-jamming street art continues to flourish around the world, even in that cutting edge realm haikus make their presence felt, for instance as seen in this guerrilla street sign in LA that quotes a haiku by Matsuo Basho, a 17th Century Japanese poet. And this segues perfectly to the unintentional cooptation recently by New York’s Department of Transportation of haiku signage. DOT workers have installed across the five boroughs 12 traffic warning signs written in haiku commissioned from artist and writer John Morse. The project is titled “Curbside Haiku” and you can find all their locations here (Don’t forget to bring your iPhones so you can take “artsy” Instagram filtered photos. Calm down, I’ll be there doing the same).