Haiku contest provides awareness and attention to Purple Bike Program

If haiku writing is one of your skills, then your poem could decorate the fleet of purple bikes some students, faculty and staff ride around campus.

Keith Whitworth, director and coordinator of the Purple Bike Program, said he started a haiku contest for students and faculty to get recognition for their work with the bike program. He also said the poems would give back to the sponsors who donated bikes by bringing attention to the program and, consequently, to the sponsors.

Whitworth said that out of the 100-plus haiku submissions the program has received, one haiku would be selected for each of the 75 bikes. For bikes with baskets at the front, the haiku would be printed on a sign attached to the basket. Bikes without baskets will have haikus placed on signs across the handlebars. The sponsor’s logo would be printed on the left side of the sign with the haiku and winner’s name on the right side.

In addition to bringing attention to the program’s sponsors, Whitworth said, he wants the contest to bring awareness to the program.

“I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to have some connection to the Purple Bike Program…I knew we wanted to put some sponsorship signs on the bikes,” Whitworth said.

A haiku is a type of poem that includes three non-rhyming lines of five, seven and five syllables, respectively.

For the contest, haiku entries should focus on bike riding, environmental awareness and sustainable living, Whitworth said.

“This way students can have a way to be a part of the program.and when you are walking around campus, you’ll want to read them,” he said. “They are inspiring.”

Carlton Alexander, a senior political science and English major, said that while he is not part of the program, he is aware of the purple bikes on campus and submitted a haiku in the contest. Alexander said he entered the contest because he thinks it will make the bikes more appealing and help students think about sustainability on campus.

“I thought it was a great idea (Whitworth) had,” Alexander said.

Another participant in the haiku contest is April Brown, assistant director of assessment and retention in the Office of Inclusiveness and Intercultural Services.

Brown said she wrote a haiku for the contest because she enjoys poetry, and during her first year working at the university she used the Purple Bike Program.

“It was pretty interesting that one of my first opportunities to be green was when I first got here,” Brown said.

She said she used the purple bikes that year to get around campus during orientation.

“I know for me that during orientation we had to go back and forth on campus…it was really convenient,” she said. “The bikes were just a really good opportunity for us to be involved with what (Whitworth) was doing.”

Those interested in entering the contest have until 5 p.m. Feb. 12 to submit their haikus to Keith Whitworth at [email protected]

News editor Libby Davis contributed to this report.