Category Archives: picture

Old Habits Die Hard: Replacing Free Poetry with Free Books

Often we see books as signs of civilization. I take in their tree trunk roots and inked spines and think only of the sky:

(books belong in the wild)

Color photograph of two crates filled with books, a sign reading "Free Books", some orange metal chairs as well as trees in a gravel section of a park in West Philly.

Tyler came down to Philly from New York to help me declutter for my trip back to Los Angeles. Out of all the material possessions I had acquired through friends, strangers, sales…books were the weightiest. There were books I found, books given to me, books forgotten by others, books I bought, books I brought with me, books worn from travel, and books still new from continuous upkeep.

My instinct was to give them all away. Most of the things I have while wandering are given to me by others. Why not send them off the same way?

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We set up the books in the morning at a park in West Philly. When we stopped by later in the afternoon, most of the books were gone. There was a hipster family taking their time while browsing the collection. Tyler and I watched as they shifted through titles, eventually coming away with as much as they could carry.

I packed away the rest of my things and came back to California. I always come back in April; I think it has a little to do with the fact that it is my favorite month (which may have to do with the fact that it is the month I was born in). The books I came back with can now find refuge on my shelf.

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April happens to be National Poetry Month. Each year, the Academy of American Poets commissions a designer to create the annual poster. This year’s is created by Roz Chast, using words by the late Mark Strand.

Mel is collecting pictures and writing poetry about Singapore every day this month. Tyler arrives in Singapore in a few weeks; he set up a blog to document the journey, starting with Typhoid pills & scuba diving lessons.

I’m eating a new/old poetry these days. It’s not traditional or post-modern; it’s programming. I have a lot to say about it but I don’t know if any of it is relevant.

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This is the first time I’ve been without my typewriter. Using an electric stove has been strangely off-putting.

A new kind of spring cleaning.

Happy Easter!

Goodnight, Royal! (On Valentine’s Day, Staten Island, and a Slightly Related Third Thing)

When you strip away expectations, rampant consumerism, obligations, forced monotonous duty, and the arms race for resources (red roses for only $50!), Valentine’s Day becomes something truly beautiful. The free exchange of gifting, buying, receiving, giving–all in the name of expressive love–

…What could ever go wrong?

“Os & Is (black and red)” by Betty Bressi. Letter press on paper. (Courtesy of the Staten Island Museum)
A few months ago, Diane Matyas invited me to perform at the Staten Island Museum’s Second Saturday event, Betty’s Typewriter Love Fest. A Staten Island native, Betty Bressi focused on striking colors, minimalistic type, and repetition (among other mediums) to create art. The Typewriter Love Fest was a retrospective tribute to not only the artist herself, but to Valentine’s Day and typewriters, as well.

When Diane reached out to me, I had already quietly decided to discontinue the “Free Poetry” aspect of Typewriter Poetry after several existential breakdowns. Though I was no longer typing “Free Poetry,” I fell in love with Bressi’s work and was inspired to commit to performing at the Staten Island Museum event.

Come Valentine’s Day, I made the trek from Philly to Manhattan early in the morning. I discovered that at the southern-most point of the City, there’s a free ferry you can catch which takes you straight to Staten Island every thirty minutes.

It’s also orange. And it’s giant.

"at the same moment" staten island ferry
(Photo by Billimarie.)
Sea Orange Staten Island Ferry Manhattan New York Billimarie Typewriter Poetry
I was the only person crazy enough to stand outside on the deck for the ride. It was freezing, but I had been missing the sea. (Photo by Billimarie.)

I’m extremely grateful to say I’ve crossed one more item off my bucket list: perform Typewriter Poetry inside a museum. It brings Typewriter Poetry to a complete circle. Now, I am able to put my typewriter to rest with pride and move on to the next adventure.

Typing poetry inside the Staten Island Museum. (Photo by Kathryn Carse for Staten Island Advance)
Typing inside a museum: an installation, and a dream come true. (Photo by Kathryn Carse, Staten Island Advance.)

Inspired by the Staten Island Museum’s varied collection of walled insects, island history,  paintings, sculptures, graphic design, and Bressi’s bold creations, I played around with my typewriter. Kathryn Carse of the Staten Island Advance published a wonderful article focusing on Typewriter Poetry. It’s filled with photography, quotes, and video of the event:

The setting seemed made for Billimarie Robinson. A traveling poet with a pink 1950s Royal typewriter, she need only use her first name. She casually converses, listens, laughs, and writes a poem which she types on onion skin paper. Then zzzzzipppp she rips it out of the typewriter, creases it and carefully tears away the extra paper.

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“I love handwriting, but there’s something about the instrumentation of the typewriter … every letter matters, and there’s something beautiful about ink to paper, immediacy, poetry,” she says.

She hands over the finished product which inevitably causes a smile as each person reads and finds a little bit of themselves in a poem.

“It’s just an opportunity for a lighthearted connection between strangers,” says Billimarie.

I am ridiculously humbled to see it from Kathryn’s point of view. I urge you to read the rest of her incredible article here, if you’re curious. All photos in this entry–unless otherwise mentioned–were taken by Kathryn Carse for the Staten Island Advance.

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Ten points if you can spot what’s “wrong” with this picture.

My favorite part of the event was when the insightful and talented artist Florence Barry sketched me while I was unaware. She was kind enough to show me her journal, afterwards. It is a thick and rugged notebook filled to the margins with sketches of all kinds of people, animals, places. She doesn’t have an online presence–“I’m a bit of a luddite,” she claimed in person–but I did get her business card and later discovered this amazing photograph:

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Florence Barry.

It was my first time visiting Staten Island. The community surrounding the museum is palpable with artistic cultural intent. Though I wasn’t a “Staten Islander,” everyone was friendly and welcoming. I was honored to be part of the town for even just a day.

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The first Betty Bressi Snapchat? (Photo by Billimarie.)
Yiddish Typewriter Keys Staten Island Museum billimarie Typewriter Poetry Hebrew
Jenny and Robert showed me a Yiddish typewriter they had in storage. (Photo by Billimarie.)
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Mike is the only typewriter repairman on Staten Island.
Staten Island Museum Betty Bressi Typewriter Love Fest Typewriter Poetry billimarie Valentine's Day
Ingrid, myself, and Diane. Ingrid is holding a poem Diane wrote for her daughter, Wisdom.
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Before the event; getting the table ready. Recycled props! (Photo by Ingrid Alvarez.)

Flo (Florence Barry)

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Florence Barry’s sketch.
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(Photo by Diane Matyas.)

Ray

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in and over
we flow numerous
canvas letters and marks
a ride or a lesson

--billimarie
february 14th 2015

Ann

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first is the blank slate
time is an essence we refuse
to solidify, letters and
shapes, pica to inch. we
blossom into sounds of
an ethereal nature:

with age
we collect
recollect
folding over

--billimarie

A Newly-Wed Couple

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sparrow p@rr0t
being of numbers
numerical operations, as they say
he saw she and the colors
just begged to become

becoming becoming, and going their way
we all have the habit
of wishing we could stay

--billimarie
february 14th 2015

Esperanza

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outside, it's cold.
everything wrapped
in dirty white snow.
habor waves look cinematic
when viewed through an iPhone lens--
these things
being things
small reminders
of what remain.

--billimarie
february 14th 2015

Mary

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there.
(the eye has it, doesn't it?)
something
in the notion
we capture bitsbits&bits
how lovely,
you, are pieces of poetry
straight shooter
to the ends of the heart

--billimarie
february 14th 2015
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“(But where is what I started for,
so long ago?
And why is it yet unfound?)””Facing West from California’s Shores” by Walt Whitman. (in “Understanding Comics” by Scott McCloud. Photo by Billimarie.) 

A huge thanks to everyone who made every single event I ever typed at possible.

Thank you to everyone who carries bytes of my soul with them (re: a free poem) though I am probably only 1/98th human now because of it. On the plus side: I became 97/98th wolf.

Thanks to the guy who asked me to sign a poem so he could sell it when I got famous, because haha fuck you.

I’m sorry to the events I flaked on.

Thank you to everyone who ever helped me along what now seems to be a strange, pointless journey of “Free Poetry” (the hilarious ironies of life!).

Thank you to my family, especially to my brother who I once overheard proudly telling a stranger that I “go around typing free poetry for people,” and especially my parents who kept hinting that this endeavor might be a huge waste of time but gave me room enough to find that out on my own.

To a secret admirer this Valentine’s Day: thank you for your present, [but more than that] your presence: “and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant”

Thank you to Ridge and Sandra, the two women who took one look at my Free Poetry setup then looked me dead in the eye and said, “you’re better than this.” No one had ever told me that, before. I cried. They hugged me.

…And they were the last people I ever typed free poems for.

Typewriter Poetry: 2011.
Typewriter Poetry: 2011. (Photo by my sister.)
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Typewriter Poetry: 2015.

“First unattendable lunch” from Claes Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches” (1967)

Last week, I came across a page from Claes Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches.” It’s such a mysterious text that I have yet to find the full version online.

Here’s the excerpt I fell in love with:

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Photograph by CPLY Estate.

“First unattendable lunch” was published–along with the entire “Unattendable Lunches” work–in the 6th and last issue of S.M.S (“Shit Must Stop”). Featuring artists like Yoko Ono, John Cage, Man Ray, and Marcel Duchamp for one year in the late sixties, each issue contained “an ambitious and groundbreaking collection of work” from a variety of artists, according to the founder, William N. Copley (“CPLY”).

Oldenburg’s “Unattendable Lunches” holds together seven typed pages of lunch menus by rope. From what I understand, the essence of it is a poem and thank you letter:

Pamphlet with a magic marker cover drawing, hand-bound with a knotted rope, containing typewritten pages of proposed menus of quintessential, mundane American food for seven unattended lunches. Enclosed within is an envelope containing Oldenburg’s poetic typewritten regrets.

Though it is part of several museums, “Unattendable Lunches” is currently not on view at any of them.

It is, however, available for purchase of up to £300.

Photograph by Gerrish Fine Art.
First unattendable lunch
June 26 1967

MONDAY

Small watercress* sandwiches
Glass of cool tomato juice
Fruit cup with grape in it
Small cup of coffee
Ordinary cookie
A napkin
Glass of soda water in the shade

Thank you so much
Youre welcome

* …did you know watercress is one of the oldest known leaf vegetables to be consumed by humans?

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem Available for Purchase: “Take″

We made it to 2015!

Today has been beautiful. I’m thankful for the sun.

Here’s a poem that I wrote five years ago: “Take.” I’ve been rewriting it ever since.

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Sharing “Take” comes at a fitting time. As 2014 transitioned into 2015, I woke from several visceral dreams and nightmares. The states of grey between waking, sleep, daydreams and imagination are intricate realms I enjoy exploring, even when my anxiety gets the best of me.

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Visit Etsy to purchase “Take.”
TAKE

you recoil

lapse
at night

skin tied to coercion

you rummage through faces
you face me
your wilt

my eyes
thick domes
     rekindle a

different flame

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Items for Sale

Read about hello eira, or browse other Typewriter Poetry poems:

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Adam" medium shot against wood card stock.Adam

“said her limbs were baiting him. pulled by…”

Read More or Purchase.

 

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Spring." Dutch angle against blue wood card stock.Spring

“…always something new passing between us:”

Read More or Purchase.

 

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Couple #1." Close up against midnight blue and white baroque card stock.

Couple #1

“…when we last laughed over coffee and…”

Read More or Purchase.

 

Free Typewriter Poetry Poem for Readers

From Monday (December 29th) until Friday (January 2nd), I’ll be posting new items at hello eira each morning.

As a thank you for your curiosity, insight, and kind words over the years, I’d like to send you a free poem.

You can wait until all the poems are up at the end of the week to choose which poetry you’d like sent to you. Use the coupon TYPEWRITER2015 (expires January 7th 2015) and get a $7.50 discount off your total purchase at checkout. There’s a catch: you’d still have to pay for shipping, because that’s how Etsy’s system works.

Typewriter Poetry Etsy shop, hello eira Facebook cover and logo. It's typewritten on gray paper. The typeface font is the color of the universe.

Happy New Year! :)

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem Available for Purchase: “Couple #1”

Closing out 2014 with one of my favorites.

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Couple #1." Medium shot against midnight blue and white baroque card stock.

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Couple #1." Dutch angle against midnight blue and white baroque card stock.

Normally I hate strongly dislike watermarks, but this one is starting to grow on me. The wonders of Photoshop!

“Couple #1” is the first in a series of poems called “The Couple Series.” It was conceived when–following a breakup and other intense life stuff–I somewhat impulsively decided to fly to Hawaii and backpack through the islands. Away from the mainland, I wrote all sorts of poetry about real couples I would witness, my previous relationships, and fictional couples I’d get to know while walking by myself along the sand.

You can read the original post here.

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Couple #1." Close up against midnight blue and white baroque card stock.
Visit Etsy to purchase “Couple #1.”
COUPLE #1

Must've been winter
when we last laughed
over coffee

and my scorched tongue

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Items for Sale

Read about hello eira, or browse other Typewriter Poetry poems:

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Adam" medium shot against wood card stock.Adam

“said her limbs were baiting him. pulled by…”

Read More or Purchase.

 

Etsy Typewriter Poetry Poem "Spring." Dutch angle against blue wood card stock.Spring

“…always something new passing between us:”

Read More or Purchase.

 

Free Typewriter Poetry Poem for Readers

From Monday (December 29th) until Friday (January 2nd), I’ll be posting new items at hello eira each morning.

As a thank you for your curiosity, insight, and kind words over the years, I’d like to send you a free poem.

You can wait until all the poems are up at the end of the week to choose which poetry you’d like sent to you. Use the coupon TYPEWRITER2015 (expires January 7th 2015) and get a $7.50 discount off your total purchase at checkout. There’s a catch: you’d still have to pay for shipping, because that’s how Etsy’s system works.

Typewriter Poetry Etsy shop, hello eira Facebook cover and logo. It's typewritten on gray paper. The typeface font is the color of the universe.

Have a wonderful New Year! :)

Typewriter Poetry on Etsy – Poem Available for Purchase: “Spring”

Winter finally hits Los Angeles–

Photograph of a cloudy sky in Los Angeles, trees, vines, the hint of a spiraling staircase. Winter in Los Angeles.
It’s supposed to rain, today…then back to sunny 60° for the rest of the week.

Here’s a poem from 2011 to inject some sunlight back into the sky. “Spring” was created in 2011 thanks to a Typewriter Poetry prompt. Natalie, the woman who asked for the poem, wanted something focused on Japan, lost lovenew love, and nostalgia–all tied in with blossoming sakura. You can read the original post here.

Continue reading Typewriter Poetry on Etsy – Poem Available for Purchase: “Spring”

Typewriter Poetry on Etsy – Poem Available for Purchase: “Adam”

Etsy Poetry

Today, I opened an Etsy store inspired by Typewriter Poetry. It’s called hello eira. You can read more about it on the hello eira about page.

Today is also my brother’s birthday–happy birthday!

Continue reading Typewriter Poetry on Etsy – Poem Available for Purchase: “Adam”