Mississippi Newspaper Transforms Crime Reports Into Playful Haikus

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Word nerds can condense just about anything into a haiku: Disney movies, American history, and even politicians’ speeches. Now, NPR reports, a weekly newspaper in small-town Mississippi is using the ancient Japanese art form to breathe new life into routine community news.

The Enterprise-Tocsin in Indianola, Mississippi is publishing—and tweeting—a new “Crime Haiku of the Week.” The paper’s publisher, Charlie Smith, launched the recurring poem last month to make its police blotter, called “Cops & Robbers,” a little more interesting.

Each Wednesday while on deadline, Smith takes a report and transforms it into three 5-7-5-syllable phrases. He also changed the text-heavy column’s layout so its contents framed the haiku.

At first, the blotter’s playful makeover garnered zero feedback, but Smith’s mom was a fan, and encouraged him to keep it up. The newspaper publisher eventually realized that Twitter was the perfect platform for his micro-poems, and he began posting them to social media this past week.

"In an effort to reach the new era of digital-savvy, poetry-loving Millennials, we have begun publishing a 'Crime Haiku of the Week,'" The Enterprise-Tocsin newspaper tweeted. Smith's plan worked: People are now "liking" and retweeting his poems, and some are even submitting their own verses.

Check out a sampling of The Enterprise-Tocsin's haikus below, and while you're at it, try taking a stab at the art form yourself. (Believe it or not/it’s actually pretty fun/writing crime haikus.)

[h/t NPR]