If you were listening to popular music in the early 1980’s, you are probably familiar with Thomas Dolby’s tune, She Blinded Me With Science. One lyric from that infectious song - “it's poetry in motion”- perfectly describes one can’t miss highlight of the upcoming Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair (BABF). For the second year in a row, the remarkable artists from The Haiku Guys & Gals will be authoring one of a kind poems and spreading the syllable love at the BABF through their unique blend of performance, audience interaction, and humor.
The group, managed by head poetess Lisa Markuson, is headquartered in the New York City area. The organization has a stable of 21 poets at the ready in Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York City, Austin, The Berkshires, Montreal, and Paris. During each performance, Haikuists write original Haiku poetry (a three-line poem which has five syllables in the first line, seven in the second, and five in the third) on early, vintage typewriters. The themes of the poems come from the audience, and may include special words, sentiments, or other memorable images. Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry. Its early origins can be traced to the 7th century when concise, lyrical poetry was a key element of pre-Buddhist or early Shinto ceremonial rituals.
Haiku Guys & Gals has been in business for three years. In that very short amount of time, the group has already been featured at a huge array of live events, including enormous corporate holiday parities, celebrity birthdays, a fundraiser where the team was stationed in a bank vault, raves where they’ve written Haikus on sub woofers, yoga festivals on mountaintops, private parties in retirement centers, and bar mitzvahs in swanky lounges, among many others. Clearly, Haiku is the perfect complement to good time gatherings. Which makes the group’s appearance at the BABF a perfect fit as well!
We spoke briefly with Lisa Markuson to learn a little more about her group and what it’s like to be an on-the-spot poet. Here’s what she had to say!
ANLAOB: Lisa, many thanks for speaking with us. For the most part, how long does it take to author a typical Haiku and how do you “warm up” for a writing performance or project?
Lisa: It takes from 60-300 seconds to write a Haiku in general when performing. Warm ups are free styling, writing stream of consciousness, meditation, exercise, head stands, espresso, whisky or wine… we all have slightly different activities to get the juices flowing.
ANLAOB: Have you, or other members of your team, ever been stumped by a Haiku request from an attendee at one of your appearances?
Lisa: Never stumped yet! If a topic is very broad or we need clarification, we ask follow-up questions. And if we’re on the last line and hit a wall (which happens rarely) we’ll swap our partner poet in to close it out with a bang.
ANLAOB: For those poets in waiting who will read this post, what are the job requirements to become a Haiku guy or girl?
Lisa: It’s a perfect and amazing job for a very specific type of person, and that type of person only. The absolutely necessary qualities for a good Haikuist include charisma and charm, impeccable personal style, quick wit, entrepreneurial spirit, multitasking and infinite love and empathy for all living beings.
ANLAOB: You’ve been featured at many amazing events and celebrations, but there must be a few performance destinations left on your bucket list?
Lisa: We’d really love to travel to Japan and study the language, the history, and write multilingual Haiku for Japanese people. We’d also love to apply what we’ve learned through writing Haiku in other international settings like refugee camps, at the UN, and other groups where multiple cultures and nationalities collaborate.
And for me personally, I really want to write Haiku for Beyonce, the Obamas, Ellen, Ai Wei Wei, Marina Abramovic, Franchesca Ramsey, Louis C.K, Yayoi Kusama, and Steven Colbert in particular.
ANLAOB: We’ve saved the weirdest question for last. Do you (and members of your group, if you have discussed this) dream in Haiku?
Lisa: Ha! We’ve never discussed the flow of our dreams actually taking place in syllables, but we definitely dream of writing Haiku, and dream of amazing adventures always.
ANLAOB: Lisa, many thanks for your time and we are all so looking forward to meeting you at the BABF in September!
Lisa and her super-talented team of professional Haikuists are just one of the exciting special features at the upcoming the third annual Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair. This highly anticipated event, featuring over 100 world-class dealers plus many special events, will be held at the Brooklyn Expo Center, on Friday, September 9th from 6-9pm; Saturday, September 10th from 11am-7pm; and Sunday, September 11th from 11am-5pm. A variety of ticketing options are available ranging from $7 for a Sunday only ticket to $25 for the preview opening to benefit 826NYC, a program which teaches children how to write creatively; for more information and to purchase tickets please click here.
The Brooklyn Antiquarian Book Fair is sponsored ABEBooks and brought to you by Book and Paper Fairs. The Friday benefit preview opening will be catered by Jessy's Pastries, known for their home-made, fresh Peruvian empanadas and alfajores, Peruvian cookies which the Huffington Post calls “the best cookie you've never heard of.” Book and Paper Fairs produces the top book and ephemera fairs in the Northeast US. Our professionally managed events have a long history of bringing together the finest buyers and sellers in the industry, and are held in major locations including Boston, New York City, Brooklyn, Concord, NH, and Lexington, MA. For more information and a calendar of our shows, please visit www.bookandpaperfairs.com.