NYC’s High Hopes for Haikus

Yay!  New York City!
Celebrating poetry
Promoting safety

I wrote the above when I read about a new traffic safety campaign launched this week by the NYC Transportation Department.  About 200 eye-catching, 8″ x 8″ signs, some with accompanying haiku in English and Spanish, will be posted at congested crosswalks in all five boroughs, from the Bronx to Staten Island.

Cool, I thought. Another way to share literature in public.  As a frequent subway rider, I remember when the city adopted the Poetry in Motion program, hanging placards of poems, enriching the straphangers’ rides. Begun in 1992, the poems provided a pleasant distraction until 2008, when the city replaced them with public service announcements, such as “See Something, Say Something,” and paid advertisements.

Then I took myself on an urban scavenger hunt to see these curbside haiku safety warnings. I downloaded the map  and found nine in the Columbus Circle vicinity. (West 57th-58th Street).

Later,  I wrote this haiku:

Small signs hard to find
Only a few with haikus
QR codes on most

Nothing against the idea. Or the art. Love the 12 graphics by artist John Morse and the poems too.   (Curbside Haiku Poster © John Morse)


But I doubt they’ll do anything to lessen traffic accidents. How many pedestrians want to stand in a busy intersection and use their smart phones to scan a poem? How many cyclists and drivers can read while in transit? Won’t that cause more crashes?

New York City, bring back Poetry in Motion. The only hazard there might be people missing their stops because they’re so engrossed in reading. And they don’t need a smart phone to enjoy the poems.

Here’s my final haiku:

Boo New York City
Taking public poetry
Off subways, miss it

My first haiku was published  in the New York Times comments blog. 

Here are my  other posts on public art:

Summit’s Sculpture  Statuary

 Sweaters not Bombs

This entry was posted in art, Cycling, New York City, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to NYC’s High Hopes for Haikus

  1. I love the poetry. I would find this annoying. I can see the tourist now. I had trouble just walking in Times Square on Wednesday night. That can be dangerous.


  2. I actually think this isn’t a bad idea so long as people pay attention. Well done on getting your haiku published by the NYT!


  3. jakesprinter says:

    Great article again my friend 🙂


  4. Leah says:

    Nice poetry! And what a great post. Thanks for sharing.


  5. Galen says:

    Love it or hate it… NYC gives new meaning to the term “urban landscape”. Thank you for showing us a new component of the city’s contribution to civilization…


  6. peters154 says:

    NYC must be the best place for public art!
    maybe a park would be a better location, such as Central Park.


  7. eof737 says:

    Cute… NYC and haiku. 😉


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