Making Poems Out of Ballot Measures: #haikutheprops

One of Damian Carroll's many haiku's aimed at educating Californians about propositions this election.

Damian Carroll wants people to vote for each and every measure on their ballots. So for several election cycles he’s distilled ballot measures into clever and incisive haiku-inspired poems.

When he's not tackling California politics — Carroll identifies as a Democratic activist — he serves as the national director for the L.A.-based nonprofit  Vision to Learn, which provides eye exams and eyeglasses to low-income communities.

Here’s Carroll’s haiku introduction to this year’s statewide propositions:
What's California voting
on this November?
Here's an easy guide

Carroll has broken down everything from Proposition 7:
daylight savings time
could be made permanent
by legislative vote.

To the potential health care costs in Proposition 8:
Sets a profit cap
For kidney dialysis
At fifteen percent


There's even an ode to the missing Proposition 9, which the California Supreme Court removed from the ballot:
split our state in three.
Where's the map? Whoops, nevermind.
The court threw it out.

Carroll began writing these poems in 2016.

“I started posting them one at a time up on Facebook, mostly for friends, but at the end when I put them all together, boy, they just took off and thousands of people reshared them and use them to vote,” he says.

There’s one technicality at play here. Carroll’s poems do meet the 5-7-5 requirements of haiku, but representatives of the Haiku Society of America say (via email) that because his poems don’t conjure up images, they’re more zappai — another type of Japanese poem — than haiku.

Carroll is comfortable considering his poems "haiku-inspired," he says. And he plans to keep writing them. “At this point, the audience is demanding it,” he says.

Check out all of Carroll's proposition haikus to quickly orient yourself on what's at stake this election season.

For a more in-depth breakdown, read KQED's Voter Guide.