A “honku” (honk + haiku) is a haiku of anti-honking verses. A haiku is a three-line poem of 17 syllables, in phrases of 5 syllables, then 7 syllables, and then 5 syllables.
Aaron Naparstek, founder of Streetsblog, got fed up with the honking traffic below his Brooklyn window around Christmas 2001 and threw an egg at an offending car. There was a near altercation, but it inspired Naparstek to write haikus about traffic that he dubbed as “honku.” Stories about honkus in the New York Times and The New Yorker in early 2002 led to the book Honku: The Zen Antidote to Road Rage (2003) and the website Honku.org.
When New York City decided in 2012 to take down its “No Honking” signs to avoid visual clutter. the New York Times asked for reader submissions of honkus, publishing them on February 6, 2013.
Wikipedia: Aaron Naparstek
Aaron Naparstek is the founding editor and creator of Streetsblog, a web site providing daily coverage of transportation, land use and environmental issues in New York City. Since its founding in June 2006, Streetsblog has emerged as an influential forum for New York City’s Livable Streets Movement, dedicated to reclaiming cities’ public spaces from the automobile and improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. Streetsblog is published by the OpenPlans.
Before launching Streetsblog, Naparstek wrote the Department of Traffic column for the alternative weekly newspaper, the New York Press and was the author of Honku: The Zen Antidote for Road Rage, a book of humorous haiku poetry inspired by the unique brand of motorist sociopathy observed from his apartment window in Brooklyn.
What’s a honku?
A “honku” is a haiku poem about cars and traffic.
Haiku is a traditional Japanese form of poetry. As it’s typically written in English, a haiku consists of three lines written in a 5-7-5 format, totaling 17 syllables
Story of Honku
I started writing Honku after a near-death egg-throwing experience around Christmas, 2001. At the time, I lived in a one bedroom apartment on a quintessential, historic Brooklyn street lined by trees and brownstones with big front stoops. Thanks to defects in traffic signal timing and the brains of New York City motorists, there had always been a lot of horn honking in front of my apartment. But this one day it got to be too much.
New York (NY) Times
NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: COBBLE HILL; Cars Howl on Choked Streets But Lamppost Poets Propose Gentler Paths to Work
By TARA GEORGE
Published: March 17, 2002
Enraged by the loud horn-honking outside his Cobble Hill apartment, Aaron Naparstek first started pelting cars with eggs. Then a driver threatened to come back and kill him in his sleep. So he thought it wise to try a gentler, more Zen tactic: he started writing haikus.
For three months, Mr. Naparstek, 31, has been taping his antihonking verses—he calls them honkus—to the lampposts along a 10-block stretch of Clinton Street, a brownstone-lined road that is often clogged with Manhattan-bound commuters.
The New Yorker
MAD AS HELL DEPT.
THE BASHO OF HONK
BY NICK PAUMGARTEN
MARCH 25, 2002
Most New Yorkers, at some point or other, have been tempted to hurl semi-solid objects at automobiles operated by drivers who lean too heavily on the horn. A few days before Christmas, Aaron Naparstek had the urge
That night, to calm himself, he wrote about twenty haiku about honking, which he called “honku.” He made fifty printouts of each, numbered them, and, in early January, began affixing them to lampposts around the neighborhood.
OCLC WorldCat record
Honku : the Zen antidote to road rage
Author: Aaron Naparstek
Publisher: New York : Villard Books, ©2003.
Edition/Format: Book : English : 1st ed
A collection of over 100 humorous haiku takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the stresses of driving, parking, and commuting in America’s car culture.
A “honku” is a haiku poem about cars and traffic. Anything that drives you crazy while in or around cars, traffic, and the American motoring experience is fodder for a honku.
by Dave Aug 13, 2003
New York (NY) Times
February 6, 2013, 1:57 pm
Sounds of the Road, in 17-Syllable Verse
By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Well beeped, City Room readers. On the occasion of the city’s decision to take down those seemingly unavailing “No Honking” signs, we asked you to send us a Honku or two to mark the moment. You responded in droves, with extreme literary alacrity. Here is some of your work:
Stuck on Lexington
Man in front has stopped to text
Gonna use the horn
Bumper sticker says,
“Honk if you love Jesus!” But
What would Jesus do?