Poetry and public safety: not something we'd normally think of as having any connection. But a novel program cooked up by the Arizona Department of Transportation aims to use the literary form to improve highway safety in that state.
According to a report in the New York Daily News, the agency invited motorists to submit haiku about Arizona's summer dust storms (known locally as "haboobs"), which can suddenly reduce visibility on roads to near zero. The centuries-old Japanese poetry form consists of successive lines of just five, seven, and five syllables—perfectly suited to Twitter, as Daily News reporter Alexander Nazaryan noted.
The "Haboob Haiku" initiative is part of the state's "Pull Aside—Stay Alive" dust-storm safety campaign. Officials hope the haiku tweets will raise awareness about the dangers of driving during the storms.
Some of the submissions were clever indeed. A few examples:
An ominous sight / The mighty dirt monster nears / Pool owners fear him. Monsoon winds whip fierce. / Desert dust devils dance free. / Drive with caution, please. Would you fly a kite / in a giant hurricane? / Don't drive in haboobs. You're not a Jedi. / This is not Tatooine, Luke. / Pull over now, man.
Read the top 15, culled from more than 1,500 entries, at http://adotblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/vote-for-your-favorite-haboob-haiku.html.