My project is a book filled with hundreds of stories about people just like you: true stories of fear, anger, greed, sex, pride, and confusion.
It’s the thinnest thick book you’ll ever hold. Because each of those hundreds of stories is just seventeen syllables long. They are haiku.
With his new girlfriend,
Robert watched his old girlfriend
slash three of his tires.
I find these stories in "Police Blotter" columns from newspapers across the United States. Your average police blotter holds one- or two dozen short accounts of minor crime: burglaries, domestic trouble, disorderly conduct, and fights.
Aflame with anger,
he set fire to the carport
of her new lover.
What's the appeal? "Minor" crimes hold major humanity: the irrational vengeance of jilted lovers; the man who thinks he's Jesus, adrift at Walmart; the husband who tries to enter his own house through the dog door, and doesn't quite make it. And the teenagers who live for the moment:
It was a cold night
and the neighbor's hot tub just
sat there, beckoning.
The police blotter holds the secret history of humanity, appearing daily in small newspapers across the nation. It's funny, it's sad, it's ugly, it's absurd.
And it lends itself especially to haiku: a brief, structured verse form that forces you to cut through mere facts to the heart of the matter. The journalists might write of a woman whose child turned up smelling of marijuana. But I write:
The end of childhood.
She smelled it as pot smoke on
her twelve-year-old son.
Part of the fun is seeing how much of the meaning I can make you supply for me, through inference and context.
"You know you want this,"
he told the women, pointing.
They knew no such thing.
What is he pointing at? I don't say; I don't have the space to say. But if I've dropped the proper cues, and you live in the same culture as I, you've figured it out.
Over the years I've written nearly a thousand police blotter haiku; I've shared them on the net and in print. And I've finally taken my favorite few hundred and packaged them in book form. The words are ready to go. And I will self-publish through a publish-on-demand service like Amazon, which costs me nothing.
But a few other things are required. That's where you come in.
First of all, I want the haiku accompanied by illustrations. I will take pictures of models in staged poses, process them through an image editor and turn them into something very like images. I can use friends as models, but also may hire a few college students. I may also need to rent some equipment: photo lights, a background screen, and so on.
But the major part of the money is for publicity. I've self-published several books, and found it difficult to get publicity.
But police blotter haiku have a built-in audience: journalists. They enjoy them; locally, they've proven eager to write about them. I'd like to drop 100 – or 200 – copies of Police Blotter Haiku on city desks across the nation and see if I can achieve a near-impossible goal: to sell one thousand copies of a self-published book of poetry.
If you like my haiku, help me realize my dream. There could be a book in it for you with a personal haiku, and who knows what else? Check my links to see where you can read my latest haiku for free, and see a mock-up of what a page of Police Blotter Haiku might look like. And there are more links to other things that I've done.
Risks and challenges
Challenges? I'll have to arrange and coordinate photo shoots. Obtaining subjects can be done through the theater arts department of the local university. There could be some kinks, no question. But if I get serious and crank through it, I can get it done in plenty of time. I'll have the assistance of my wife, who has professional photo experience.
That done, I foresee no barrier to completing the hardcover book on time. I've self-published books before through Amazon and Lulu, and I have much better publishing and photo-editing tools this time around.
The rest of the roll-out will be ongoing. By the time you receive your books and other prizes, the book will be up for sale on, at least, Amazon in hard copy; I'll have sent out review copies to many journalists, but may not be finished. Nevertheless, the book launch will be under way, and will continue.
That's the part of the project that your support will help; but beyond that, production of e-book versions will also be in progress. Sentimentally, I'm against an a poetry e-book: a volume of poems should be something you can shove in your pocket and walk around with, I say. But we must move with the times. With the help of my CSS-savvy wife and any money that's left over, I'll investigate fixed-page format for e-books: something that allows me to define individual pages and control their layout.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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