Why do books like Zombie Haiku exist? I feel it has something to do with an M.F.A. program I recently heard about, where if you take an unaltered photograph of something unusual and exquisite you're reprimanded for being passe. What's rewarded instead is a mosaic of screen shots of Craigslist ads--the apogee of concept over content. It's sad that some serious art programs are all about gimmicks these days, and sadder still that a publishing industry grappling with irrelevance in the youth market indulges its collective anxiety by turning out concept-driven dreck like Haiku. Here's how I imagine it happened: Zombie author/Ohio youth pastor Ryan Mecum said to his friends, over nachos, "What kind of haiku would you write if you were a zombie?" And everyone laughed and they said funny things like, "He keeps hitting me/ Even after I bite him/ But not much longer," or, "My nose is dripping/ The taste gets me excited/ Seeping onto my tongue." Then it dragged on till the next day, over email, and somebody's standards were low enough to think the joke should be carried along for the length of a book. The publisher How Design--better known for books like The Essential Principles of Graphic Design and The Designer's Guide to Marketing and Pricing--has added a few Romeroesque snapshots, some fake blood and hair, incomprehensible font changes and a framing device to Mecum's haikus, and compelled him to create at least 250 more, including gems like, "I can't remember/ How to open this window/ So I'll just stand here." Yuck. Gimmick. Tastes like ... windpipe.