When poet Lisa Ann Markuson decided to take on the powers that be, she went back to the basics. Literally. Starting with the letter "A," Markuson wrote a haiku for every single senator - and now she's selling them for a good cause.
Markuson is the co-founder, co-owner and managing director of the Haiku Guys & Gals, a poets-for-hire creative collective. The Guys & Gals are a web of 25 writers, spread out across Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Austin, The Berkshires, Montreal, and Paris. Each a poet in their own right, ready to spontaneously spit out personalized haikus (yes, they are available for parties), the artists in this company are champions of multi-disciplinary creativity and Markuson is no exception. She's an ambassador for Bowery Poetry, host of A Revolutionary Woman podcast and, according to her online bio, "no one knows where she lives."
On August 18, 2017 Markuson penned her first haiku, dedicated to Alabama senator Richard Shelby. Elected as a Democrat in 1987, Shelby was once supporter of Joe Biden's semi-automatic rifle ban; today, he's a registered Republican with an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association.
"I started thinking about empathy, and the way our political leaders seem to be so far away from us, so untouchable," Markuson told Bustle earlier this year. "I wanted to figure out something that I could do to bridge the gap between them and us, something that could potentially show them a new perspective on themselves and their work and help them relate better to the citizens for whom they're responsible."
And so began what became a social media phenomenon. Each day, Markuson would dedicate a handful of hours to researching each senator. Though she wasn't always as cutting as she was with Sen. Shelby, Markuson didn't stray away honest, open takes.
By late November, Markuson had reached the end of her 100 day challenge and was faced with a new question: What to do with these haikus, each researched, composed, typed on a typewriter and illustrated? Mail them directly to the senators? Let them live in perpetuity as images on Instagram? But Markuson wanted their legacy to stretch farther.
In an open letter, Markuson wrote:
I realized that the biggest single takeaway for me is that there are far too few women represented in our Congress, and I found that the problem starts in our hometowns, with a lack of women running for smaller local offices, less funding for women, more vitriolic attacks against women politicians, and more. So I decided I wanted to auction these pieces of history, to benefit an organization that helps women get their footing in the political scene.
The organization, She Should Run, is a bipartisan political organization whose primary aim is to inspire more women to run for office by providing mentorship and resources to candidates. Their current goal is to see 250,000 women running for elected office by 2030.
So here's the deal: the bidding for all 100 haikus will be open for the next three days on eBay. Every listing will close on Saturday at 8 pm EST. You can choose to have your selected piece matted, framed or just ~as is.~ All proceeds will go to She Should Run. If you've been agonizing over last minute gifts for loved ones, this is it. This is your answer.