Book Review: Bicycle Haiku: Ride across America

“Bicycle Haiku: Ride across America” by Kevin Kelly, 2001

I tripped over this book via the Apple iBook Store this weekend, quite by chance and without any prior knowledge of the book or the author.  The book is a reproduction of line drawings and Haiku (these are 17 syllable Japanese poems it appears) written by the author as he completed a ride across America, West to East between August and October 1979.

English: Kevin Kelly speaking at the Long Now ...
English: Kevin Kelly speaking at the Long Now Foundation about his new book, What Technology Wants. San Francisco, CA, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was charmed by the book and delighted by the informality of the drawings and poems.  Some made me laugh, some made me think and altogether they left me with the idea that this kind of journalling is a great way to record a trip and extend the riding, ‘in your head’ at the time.

Some favourites jumped out at me, including:

Once again tonight learned stars assemble so you won’t forget

Fences don’t mean much
Not to dandelions or mice
Or the winds of change

Awaken dawn rises.
Night’s quilted cover thrown off,
Colors fall to ground. 

I really like his maxim too, offered at the start: “Go easy, look hard“.  In my experience its too easy to slip into, ‘just being on the bike, passing through’ and not being mindful of where you are and why: so this is good advice.

So, I had this down as a quaint collection of drawings and poems from an age before technology.  It was not until I was looking for a source for the book’s purchase that I found that the author is a major cog, a star even, in all things digital.  Check out his web site.

A charming book by a then young man who was and is clearly destined for great things.

“Bicycle Haiku: Ride across America” by Kevin Kelly, 2001Recommended with 3 stars.  Available form Apple and from his own site (see above).


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