I was writing custom poetry at an event in New York City last night. When I handed this man his haiku, I offered him the choice that I offer everyone: “Would you like me to read it to you? Or would you like to read it on your own?”
With a shaved head, industrial clothing, and a wild beard that seemed to rebel against his very face, his sudden shyness betrayed his gruff exterior and revealed his vulnerability around the topic he chose.
“I’d like to read on my own, if that’s okay,” he said softly, with a sheepish smile.
“Of course,” I smiled back, and moved on to the next person in line as he stepped into the shadows for privacy.
A few minutes later, as I finished the next guest’s custom poem, he approached the table again and caught my attention. He looked... shaken.
“This—” he gestured to the poem I’d written him, “—this is going to stay with me forever.” Emotion was in his voice.
I lit up and touched my hand to my heart as thanks for his kind words.
“You don’t understand,” he continued. “Reading this...it gave me chills. Up and down my whole body. I’m going to take every t-shirt I own and get this poem printed on them so it’s always with me.”
I then suggested that a tattoo might be easier. He joked that he’d have trouble finding space, given how covered he already was with tattoos, but that he’d definitely find a way. And it wouldn't have been the first time that a recipient of custom poetry had our poets' words inked on their skin.
It’s these beautiful, and sometimes unexpected, moments of genuine human connection and vulnerability that keep me coming back to haiku, year after year. It never ceases to amaze me how seventeen little syllables shared between strangers can offer so much. So grateful for this art form, and for The Haiku Guys for continuing to give me a platform to express it.
Imagine the joy in being able to give the gift of custom haiku to guests at your next event. There's nothing more genuine and unique than having poets writing custom poetry on their typewriters. And Alida can definitely vouch for this!