Haiku-bombing in chalk is about observation, non-permanence and quietly unsettling our usual relationship with place, and perhaps with each other. Of course it's also about getting a bit of a street-art adrenaline rush.
Haiku-bombing is partly inspired by the famous graffito tag eternity that was written in chalk on Melbourne's footpaths in the 1930s, and then later in the streets of Sydney.
Step 1: Observe
Also think about places where you can take a good photo, and where you can get a camera angle that will allow you to read the whole haiku in one shot.
Step 2: Write
The usual English language form is as follows:
- Use three (or less) lines of 17 syllables (or less) - usually 5/7/5
- Use a word associated with a season (kigo)
- Use a cut (kireji) to contrast or compare two events, ideas, situations or images
- Show, don't tell
Step 3: Prepare Your Kit
Look official in a non-specific way by wearing hi-vis vests and carrying your haikus on a clip board.
Buy non-permanent line marking chalk in an aerosol can from your local hardware store. This is sometimes called landscape chalk.
Bicycles are the perfect mode of transport for multiple haiku-bombings, you can also use your bike to conceal what you're doing a little.
Step 4: Haiku-bomb
- Consider camera angle and whether the text will be legible before you start writing
- Avoid private property, especially if it looks well loved
- Use bigger letters on the lines furthest away from the camera if writing on a horizontal surface
- Indent lines if you cannot fit the whole line of the haiku in the space available
- Leave plenty of space between lines on horizontal surfaces
- Use capital letters and avoid cursive writing or decorative details, the contrast between the simple, direct graffito style and the transient & poetic qualities of the material and content is part of what makes haiku bombing interesting (IMHO).
Step 5: Shoot & Leg It
Skedaddle. While writing in chalk in public places is hardly hardcore criminal behaviour, you could get done for criminal mischief.