The Haiku Guys | How Does One Write a Free Haiku at a Party?


Poetry on Typewriters at Events27

O.G. co-founder of The Haiku Guys and Gals Erick Szentmiklosy opens up his secrets on how he approaches the beautiful task of writing custom poetry at parties and events.

First, one must be at a party wearing a three pieced suit and have a typewriter in carry.  It helps having a sign that says "Free Haiku" somewhere nearby.  There are three types of interactions and each one is based on vibes:

  • Type 1: You get it
  • Type 2: You have no idea what's going on but you're curious
  • Type 3: You don't care

You either get it or you don't. If you get it, you're either excited, curious, or both. When you get it, you come over. If you don't get it but are curious, you'll still approach, maybe a little more slowly. If you don't care, you might not come over at all... that is, until the end of the night after a handful of your friends experiences the below. 

Now, in the scenario below, let's say you get it.  In this case (Type 1), the concept of a Free Haiku from a stranger at a party requires little to no explaining. If you're not up to speed on what the basics of a haiku are, we're always happy to explain.


So you approach me and say something like, "Oh my god, this is amazing. I'd love a free haiku. Can you please write me one about my girlfriend?" Now, based on what you read in the following paragraph, it might seem like it's my part, but it's not; you're still involved

I'll respond with something like, "Awesome, thanks for coming over. I'd love to write a haiku about your girlfriend, but you have to tell me more. Do you want this to be about her only? If so, tell me something sweet about her— your favorite idiosyncrasy of hers, or an inside joke I can reference which only she will understand when she reads this haiku. Or! Do you want this to be about the two of you? If so, tell me about how you met, or a special moment you had when you both knew you were falling in love."

And so you tell me. Your key role in this interaction is to provide me with an anchor.


It's my job to pick up on your vibe. The way your eyes light up when you talk. The way you're talking with your hands. Are you envisioning a moment in the past? Or are you navigating the ideal characteristics which she represents? Are you going to want a metaphor, where I use objects in nature to write an image using words? Or will you want these three lines of poetry to be a mini-moment, a sort of screen play? This haiku has to WOW you so much that she is going to be WOWed when you give it to her. My job is to make you look good when you pass this haiku along. She should want to hang it on the fridge and tell her friends about how you came home the other night with the perfect haiku about her.

Now, let's say you don't want a haiku about your girlfriend, but you want a haiku about anything else: a motivational quote you read the other day, the sandwich you had for lunch, a recently deceased loved one, the animal shelter down the street, etc.  No matter how big or small the topic is, my job is to anticipate how you want to feel when you read this haiku a week from now, a year from now, when you share it with a friend.

The Ether:

Sometimes people ask, "How did you come up with this?" I tell them, "I didn't. You gave me what I needed to go find it for you." I am effectively a translator. I take your script and wander the ether looking for the description which matches your story, your vibe, and our collective imagined desired response from your girlfriend.

So think of The Ether as a fountain of descriptions ranging from precisely explicative to the fancifully metaphorical. It forms rivers that carve landscapes from our source conversation towards variations of infinity. The goal is to find a spot to park my vehicle and drop the anchor there. The line forms a connection between me in the moment and the description in the ether; now we are connected and I can transmit the translation back to paper in real time. The transmission is an image translated into a physical manifestation of what we imagine together: a haiku that you can carry around with you or take home to hang on your wall.

At The End of The Day:

I am a scout. I walk, run, and fly around the ether until I locate the perfect description of your topic. I return, draft a report of my findings, take a picture for my own records, and hand it to you. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, I nail it. We nail it. You love it, you know she'll love it, and everyone has a lovely evening. Every now and then, however, I miss the mark. It happens. Such is the life of a poet who writes custom haiku. And so, as we all do, I try again.

Now that you have the inside scoop as to how we write free custom haiku at all sorts of parties and events, it might just be the right time to get one of your own. Interested in seeing some of the poems we have written? Check out our Instagram for a sample of some of our favorites!

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