Roadside Haiku


Photo: Just some dust [Flickr]

I'm sure you've seen them: "bandit signs," those small advertisements planted with wire stakes to the ground or stapled onto power poles promoting some miracle weight loss and work-at-home opportunities.

Well, John Morse was inspired by these dubious signs to create his own version, which he called Roadside Haiku:

Using the brief format of traditional haiku—three lines of five/seven/five syllables—John Morse transforms the familiar bandit sign into a delivery device for poetic snapshots of the urban condition presented and consumed within the brief seconds of stop and go traffic. Five hundred 12" x 18" signs, in editions of 50 that each feature one of 10 different haiku (eight in English, two in Spanish) will appear throughout Atlanta.

Traditional haiku relies upon a seasonal reference (kigo), with a mention, perhaps obliquely, to the season in which the haiku is written. In its opening lines, Roadside Haiku also offers a kigo of sorts, with ostensible nods to the defining consumerist allure of a bandit sign: making money, losing weight, selling old gold, yard sales, etc. Within the 17 syllables, however, the Roadside Haiku reveals an entirely different message, offering compact observations and commentary on modern life.

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