I Quit My Job To Become A Full-Time Haikuist: BUST True Story

by Lisa Markuson

 A nice shot of me set up to write haiku wedding favors at The Wythe Hotel in Brooklyn

When I was younger, someone told me I was supposed to grow up, get a good job, and make lots of money. That didn’t sound very interesting to me, so everything I’ve done in my adult life has been trial and error. (Many, many errors.) I have worked in jobs ranging from Segway Tour Guide to Pig Farmer to PR Hack to Sculptor to Social Media Executive. Now, I’m a Full­ Time Professional Haikuist. Perhaps the only one on earth.

When I started composing typewriter haiku with my business partners Daniel and Erick, it was completely effortless. We realized we tapped into something that was truly in line with all of our talents, and provided a unique benefit to every recipient. The response was unlike anything we’d ever seen.

First, we realized that we could earn a noteworthy side income from this artistic endeavor. Then, it became clear that we could support at least one haikuist FULL TIME. I quit my job to become a full­ time haikuist. I know, I’m insane.

11312616 10101838245867342 4961628561396387320 oMe and gorgeous poet / actor Tania Asnes, poorly managing chickens at a Brown Paper Tickets party at The Brooklyn Grange in LIC

Now, it has been six months, and our company is in a period of deep self­-reflection and exciting growth. We are proving that we can make a legitimate business model out of writing poetry: something few people thought was possible. How are we doing this?


lisa in cape landscape copyImmediately after purchasing the most epic 200 year old Italian soldier’s cloak – photo by Mangue Banzima for Qui Style

People have always called me “confident,” as if confidence is an inherent trait like eye color or genitalia. Some people (especially feminine spectrum people) have a tendency to think confidence is an exclusive gift that one is born with, like a unicorn horn, or a penis. They don’t have it, so the best they can do is be a horse. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Maybe we are all born as horses, and if we eat a calcium-­rich diet, we can all grow a tiny, shiny little horn, and work every single day to extend and strengthen it so we can use our horns to slay dragons someday.

“Confidence” is simply defined as full and complete trust. We understand that trust is something we develop over time, so let’s treat our confidence the same.  

Here are some things I do to build my confidence.  

  • I love strangers as much as I possibly can. Every day when I walk the streets or take the subway, I look at each individual and say “I love you” to them in my mind. If I’m feeling sassy I’ll say it out loud, but usually I keep it in my head. This simple, silent practice keeps a steady stream of positivity originating from my body and touching everyone around me, and it leaves no space in my thoughts for negativity, doubt, or worry. It weaves a web of strength and security. On some level, I think people around me must be able to feel the good thoughts I’m thinking, and they can’t help but reciprocate. Note: this practice is especially helpful when someone annoys you. Shoot an “I love you” their way and diffuse your dis-ease immediately, so you can carry on being happy and calm.
    lisa wedding haikuAt a wedding at beautiful venue 67 West – the exchange of topic and haiku is an intimate joy for me and the recipient 
  • I bolster my masculine energy. We all know it sucks to be a woman sometimes, and I do believe it is harder for feminine people to be confident because we’re raised in a male­-dominated world, on a steady diet of self-­hatred, victimization, and unhealthy objectification. I’ve found that if I build up my inner macho, I am more resilient to anything this world throws my way. How do I do this? Wide­armed power poses, incorporating androgynous clothing into my wardrobe, strengthening my word and punctuation choice in my communication…Sometimes I even visualize possessing more masculine anatomy to strengthen my presence in the world. Note: I do all these things while loving and nurturing my feminine energy too; the key for me is in the balance, and everyone’s balance is different.
  • I visualize all the things I want to happen. There are a lot of names for this practice, but all I know is my own experience. Here’s what I recommend: close your eyes and visualize in exquisite detail the scenes of your success, happiness, valiance, and improving the world around you, and you can’t help but feel extremely powerful. I’m not saying I’m Hermione Granger, but I’ll be damned if more things don’t go my way now that I do this. Make your own future. ​Make it happen right before your eyes.
    haiku duel sunday brunchA promo photo for our recurring poetry tournament event, The Haiku Duel, with one of my cofounders, Daniel Zaltsman – our other founder Erick Szentmiklosy took this photo
  • I exercise. I spent 27 years feeling that as a curvaceous female, the gym was an isolating, torturous punishment. When I quit my job and a Crunch gym opened across the street from my apartment, I decided I was ready to change everything I thought about exercise. Now, I thrive on the challenges of physical exertion, and I’m amazed that I have the capacity to build actual human muscles. Exercising regularly, I have also found that I can consume more healthy food and never worry about weight gain. I don’t think we realize how much confidence we cheat ourselves out of by depriving ourselves and worrying about what we eat. Adding rigorous exercise to my life lets me trust my body to be a strong and sexy little energy furnace burning off whatever gluttonous thing I throw at it. What freedom! 

 1388This wedding party was great – all the groomsmen told me everything about the groom, had me write a haiku about him, then they read it to him.

There are so many other things we can do to build confidence too, that perhaps we can discuss on a different occasion, or in the comments. Tillthen, go forth and feel inspired to grow and nurture your innate confidence in any way, to help you accomplish your own life’s mission. Share this article with a feminine spectrum person who you love and who could benefit from these practices. It really does take practice, and I promise you’ll see the benefit of your work.  

I love you.

More from BUST

I Tried a Nose Warmer from Etsy: BUST True Story

I Fell In Love With My Sorority Sister: BUST True Story

Notes On Why Playing Music As A Woman Is Still Fucked Up: BUST True Story

You may also like

Get the print magazine.

The best of BUST in your inbox!

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

About Us

Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

©2023 Street Media LLC.  All Right Reserved.