Love song to Austin
in 17 syllables
wonderful and weird
That's the perfectly succinct tagline for Carlotta Eike Stankiewicz's vibrant compendium, Haiku Austin. With high praise from citizens of note like Master Pancakes' Owen Egerton and famed troubadour Bob Schneider, this local's collection of poetry and photography characterizes the charms and challenges of our much-discussed city.
Whether you're an old-schooler mourning the passing of festivals like Aquafest and Spamarama, a newbie seeking a creative crash course in all things Austin, or a visitor wanting the perfect slice of city life as a keepsake, Haiku Austin has something for everyone. The endlessly flippable book features a range of fresh, funny observations on subjects from the burnt orange blur of football season to major changes in the urban landscape.
Take for example Rainey Street's transformation, in which Stankiewicz's writes: "Old and decrepit / homes turned into bars for the / young and beautiful."
Haiku Austin comprises short verse that honors political goddesses like Ann Richards and Barbara Jordan alongside essential musicians Gary Clark Jr. and Stevie Ray Vaughan. With 24 years to study Austin, Stankiewicz seamlessly blends the best of what is with droll recollections on what was, 17 beats at a time.
Stankiewicz also showcases vivid photography culled over years of experiences arranged alongside a dedicated short verse. "Seventy-five to 80 percent of those are taken with my iPhone kind of on the fly. I realized I could use my own photos and so this is a way to pay tribute with words and pictures, combining my two passions."
True to its muse, Haiku Austin is independent and locally sourced since inception. "I started thinking about it in the fall. Then I got laid off from my job in February and I figured that was the universe saying, 'You need to do this.' I launched a Kickstarter in March during SXSW and it went really well. I raised the goal amount that I needed to cover the printing costs and then some."
Stankiewicz is a bona fide wordsmith, having won the O. Henry Pun-Off in 2003 after being inspired by Eminem's gritty freestyle. "I had just seen 8 Mile and I was really inspired by Eminem. I was a candy wrapper. My trophy was a gold horse's ass. My daughter said, 'Mommy, maybe if you come back next year and you compete you'll get the other half!"
You can find Haiku Austin at BookPeople, Malvern Books, Waterloo Records, The Blanton Museum, and online at HaikuAustin.com.