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William Padgett


Siren warbles past
flashing lights, weaving traffic
nineóoneóone response

Iíve taught illustration and graphic design at SU for 35 years, and I tell my students to think of poetry when composing an ad, especially the headline. Both poetry and the ad are designed to evoke a response, a thought, or a feeling.

Iíve also lived in several cities. Downtown areas of cities are much alike in what they evoke through sights, sounds and smells. The University just moved us to Armory Square, and my work is on the upper floor, close to the road. There is a lot of sound from the street, engine noises, horns, sirens. It doesnít bother me; I know they all are responding to something urgent. I like the sense these sounds convey, the untouchable things that communicate with our ambient senses.

Bus stop shuffling feet
when doors open, winter enters
glasses fog, cheeks burn

I teach communication design at SU, and now am also teaching entrepreneurship classes. I wrote this haiku after watching the students get on and off the bus to the Warehouse in winter, which is a good chunk of the time that they spend here.

Taking the bus has a way of humbling you. You are not in a car by yourself. You are with other people. You feel the contrast between the luxury of driving a car and traveling with the masses. Itís like a stage. Here the weather and that stage come together.

The stinging of the cheeks is a defrosting. They donít sting when you are outside because they are numb. When you get on the bus, which is where you want to go when itís cold outside, you warm up. That stinging pain on your cheeks is a good pain because you are in a good place.

Crisp autumn sunshine
Shadows stretch while dry leaves dance
Warm scarf pulled tightly

For almost 50 years I have been a visual artist, an illustrator and a designer. I am always trying to reduce things to their essence, looking for the simple answers. During the past twenty years, I have also been writing poetry. What I like about writing haiku are their constraints and the quest for the simple essence. This haiku gives just enough information for the reader to capture the moment, place, and feeling; they fill in the rest. Now there is a relationship between the poem and reader.


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