Helpful Ballot Haikus: Creative Activism as Election Nears

October 27, 2018; KQED

Damian Carroll is the national director for the California nonprofit Vision to Learn, an effort that provides vision services and glasses to people who can’t afford them. He also sees his responsibility to the larger civic space, apparently, where ballot measures abound and often confound. He has taken to writing haiku introductions to the statewide ballot propositions to be decided in a few weeks. KQED News reports that Carroll keeps it real even when mixing politics and art.

What’s California voting 
on this November? 
Here’s an easy guide

Then he moves on to specific ballot questions, like question seven:

daylight savings time 
could be made permanent 
by legislative vote.

We especially like the Proposition 8 review for its strong simplicity:

Sets a profit cap 
For kidney dialysis 
At fifteen percent

Carroll started posting the haikus on his Facebook page for his friends in 2016, but then realized that they were being shared as voting guides.

Although Carroll’s poems do meet the 5-7-5 requirements of haiku, representatives of the Haiku Society of America maintain that since that his pieces don’t conjure up images, they’re more zappai than haiku. We would suggest that some do conjure images—for instance:

Farms who wish to sell

Pigs, calves, chickens and eggs here

Must give them more space

Carroll is fine with that correction, though he will continue to call them haiku-inspired.

All of Carroll’s 2018 proposition haikus can be checked out here.—Ruth McCambridge