Meet the Guys Google Pays to Write Poetry

The Haiku Guys get hundreds of dollars per hour to write personalized poems
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 9, 2015 4:58 PM CDT
Meet the Guys Google Pays to Write Poetry
The Guys do their work on typewriters like this one, once owned by a part-time poet named John Lennon.   (AP Photo/Northeastern University, Brooks Canaday)

Waxing lyrical might not seem like to best route to riches, but it turns out poetry is still pretty popular—and "the Haiku Guys" have been able to turn that appeal into cash, Fast Company reports. What they offer is, essentially, a custom poem-writing service. As the guys' site says, it's "unique entertainment for any occasion; 2+ poets dressed to impress show up with typewriters. Each one of your guests provide a topic and everyone goes home with a poem." One thing that's a little misleading: These days, the poets aren't just guys. "Our mission is to write haiku for everyone on the whole entire planet," trio member Lisa Markuson tells Fast Company. So far, they've covered the likes of Google, Bloomberg, and Barnes & Noble, all clients.

The two guys in the group, Erick Szentmiklosy and Daniel Zaltsman, got the whole thing started when they set up a booth on a New York corner. What they wanted was interviews with local entrepreneurs, whom they tried to woo with poems. That became an end in itself, and now the Haiku Guys appear at events all week, bringing in between $200 and $250 an hour as they write the three-line, 17-syllable pieces. "This is the only way that I’ve ever seen poetry become a viable business model," Markuson notes. "The whole concept of haiku emerged as a way to present old truths in a new way. So it seems fitting that we’ve found a new way to bring this ancient art to the masses." You can try the service for yourself here, or learn how the New York Times has turned its pieces into Haiku form. (Read more haiku stories.)

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