Originally Posted: June 21st, 2020
Updated: August 24th, 2020
Handmade poetry deliveries.
In 2011, a pink typewriter found me.
A year after graduating from college, I fell in love with a pink 1950’s Royal Deluxe typewriter. I tested out its mechanics by typing stories for my siblings, & asking my friends for prompts. Poems about dinosaurs & sakuras whittled their way onto paper, alongside poetry about life on other planets. There were even requests for an acrostic poem about web design…& a haiku about haikus.
It was an amusing way to pass the time.
Soon enough, I started sitting out in public with a cardboard sign (usually recycled from Corrugated Hearts) that said FREE POETRY. On the weekends, I’d post up at local farmer’s markets, art walks, & festivals until–inevitably–someone would be bold enough to ask for a poem. We’d talk, exchange stories, & I’d write them a poem based off our interaction or a subject of their choosing.
I was offered a free spot in the first Canoga Park Artwalk thanks to my all-time favorite arts collective, 11:11. I still remember typing my first poems for strangers, there. I made friends with a dog named Gypsy who suffered from a terminal illness. Met a woman who was in love with her boyfriend but had issues with his unavailable emotional waves. Someone requested a poem about one of my favorite colors, orange; later, they sent me a picture of it hanging on their wall.
Eventually, Typewriter Poetry became my sole (soul) means of travel. I ended up traveling across the country with my typewriter, & the project evolved into a public performance, street art, & busking piece. Beautiful waves of synchronicity guided me, helping me make new friends & find safe spaces to sleep. I relied heavily on the kindness of others & the connections they introduced to continue going.
I hitchhiked & typed on street corners, at art parties, farmer’s markets, & art walks. I crashed on the couches of new friends & old. I got lucky enough to walk with the people I loved, but mostly I wandered by myself. I’m eternally grateful to all the amazing friends I made throughout California, Oregon, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arizona, & Colorado.
As the years passed, my blog grew, & so did the community of people I met who were interested in my story. I crossed paths with other typewriter poets like Dawn X Spectre & Alandra Markman. A photograph of me was even published in the incredible book, The Typewriter Revolution by Richard Polt. I gained amazing opportunities to type Free Poetry at various museums, schools, & tech companies.
Artisanal LA offered me a free booth in their festivals, where I had a chance to dress up & type for other vendors & participants. They held markets at really interesting spaces, which meant I had the opportunity to type Free Poetry at Tesla & SpaceX for Valentine’s Day.
The Staten Island Museum invited me for a Valentine’s Day tribute to Betty Bressi, a typewriter artist, where I typed Free Poetry for guests as part of the exhibition.
The Princeton Public Library invited me to type during their annual Beyond Words gala, a gorgeous evening filled with the sounds of an orchestral band, free-flowing wine, good food & good people.
I brought my typewriter with me to raves, to Burning Man, to carnivals–even to the jungles of Mexico for the Rainbow Gathering.
It was a fun trip which, like all trips, is now settling into a new beginning for the decade’s end.
In 2019, I sent friends & family Poetry Care Packages by mail.
The impulse came from wanting to “go dark” on social media, while still keeping in touch with the people I had met at various stages in my life. I found myself searching for ways to keep connected with everyone I met–in-person as well as virtually–through Typewriter Poetry.
As the pandemic of 2020 began, I turned toward Typewriter Poetry once again to pass on a bit of delight. The Poetry Care Package offering took off in a way I never saw coming. It shifted between Quarantine Poetry, to Poems for a Loved One, to Poetry for Kids–all offerings meant to bring a smile to whoever was meant to receive it. I’ve since fallen in love with the marriage between typewriter to paper to envelope, & the painstaking process of handcrafting a personalized package for each person’s request.
Personalized Poems, Lovely Letters, & Custom Cards.
Typewriter Poetry’s mission is still the same as it was from the very beginning: to cultivate the magic of playful, spontaneous, non-programmed connections between strangers, family, & friends.
These days, I partake in this practice by sending out one-time, weekly, monthly, & seasonal Snail Mail.
I make Typewriter Poetry Greeting Cards–an eclectic mix of abstract phrases & free association–as a gentle reminder that the free-flow of the nonsensical still has its place in this exceedingly concrete & literal world.
By making personally curated Poetry Care Packages for quarantine, loved ones, & kids, I’m hoping to pass along subtle acts of kindness & passing moments of grace. (The humility & satisfaction I tap into with every trip to the mailbox is more than worth the painstaking labor of handmaking each piece.)
As always, thank you for being here. It’s been an honor journeying with my typewriter. I can’t wait to see what this next cycle will bring to us all.
I love your poetry & all that you do in your creative projects–thank you for sharing, it’s a gift.
It’s a treat to receive Billimarie’s lovely words, in a unique configuration of ink on paper, through the real mail. It makes my day.
Your poem was the fortification my soul needed.