Originally Posted: March 24th, 2011
Updated: June 13th, 2020


Typewriter Poetry’s History

Nine years ago during a trauma-induced writer's block, a pink 1950's Royal typewriter found me.

I typed stories for my siblings, asked my friends for prompts.

We got pretty silly with it. I ended up sharing poems on Facebook that were based on poetry prompts about dinosaurs and sakuras, one about life on other planets, a request for an acrostic poem about web design…even a haiku about haikus.

It was an amusing way to pass the time.

Casually hanging out typing poems and stories in 2011.

Soon enough, I found a way to type Free Poetry at local farmer’s markets, art walks, & festivals around my hometown, the Valley, and across Los Angeles.

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 was suffering 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, which I had a fun time playing with.

By the end of that first summer typing, someone gifted me a poem in return: “Give Me Everything” by Charlene. She made a request for a poem with a subject which no one has been bold enough to ask for, since.

80's Night at the Canoga Park Artwalk (2011)

After typing Free Poetry around the Valley and Los Angeles, I slowly started  traveling solo around the country to type Free Poetry for strangers.

Typewriter Poetry became my sole (soul) means of travel. It evolved into a public performance, street art, and busking piece, helping me make new friends and find safe spaces to sleep. I relied heavily on the kindness of others & the connections they introduced to continue going.

I hitchhiked and typed on street corners, at art parties, farmer’s markets, and art walks. I crashed on the couches of new friends and old. 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, and Colorado.

Typing Free Poetry in Kauai, Hawaii (2012)

Eventually, I gained amazing opportunities to type Free Poetry at various museums, schools, and tech companies.

Artisanal LA offered me a free booth in their festivals, where I had a chance to dress up and type for other vendors and participants. They held markets at really interesting spaces, which meant I had the opportunity to type Free Poetry at Tesla and 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.

A lovely artist, Florence Barry, drew my portrait as I typed Free Poetry during the Staten Island Museum exhibit (2015)
Princeton Beyond Words (2014)

Have You Received A Poem?

We’ve got some catching up to do!

It’s been a fun trip re-meeting everyone, again. I hope you’ll reach out with your story and a picture of your poem, or even a picture of yourself! [email protected]

Original Ethos (2011)

Typewriter Poetry is a transient gift.

With public space as the backdrop to intimate conversation, I dance with people, poetry, and performance art to freely pass along That Which Cannot Be Consumed.

Replacing monetary and literary value with something a little bit…more, the poet (me!) and the stranger (you!) come together in celebration of all that is human, consciousness, and life.

In other words…I type free poems for people using my vintage typewriter.

I sit somewhere public with a cardboard sign (usually recycled from Corrugated Hearts) that reads “free poems.” Inevitably, someone is bold enough to ask for a poem. We talk, exchange stories, and I write them a poem based off our interaction or a subject of their choosing.

Most poems on this website are “orphans,” or poems whose recipients forgot to pick them up. Occasionally you’ll see a picture or scanned copy of a poem, thanks to a thoughtful reader who decided to email me a copy. For the most part, participants keep the one and only version…a symbolic fit for a project such as this.

With that being said. All poems are first drafts, birthed in abandon without literary consequence. I think that is one of the hardest parts about this project: being comfortable showing others “unrevised works,” something we writers have been taught to keep hidden until it is beaten into perfection. It’s a humbling experience, being surrounded by self-doubt and vulnerability as I challenge the self to remain raw, open, honest, and accepting of flaws.

Feel free to browse the poetry archives for daily typewritten poems and prompts.

There is no fee required for a poem—I am of the radical** belief that art, natural resources, and entertainment can and should be without monetary value—so submit a prompt, today!

** In this case, ‘radical’ referring to the original (and less often used) meaning: to the root of things, to the origin.

32 thoughts on “History”

  1. Your work is lovely, it’s nice when you come across a modern poet who’s worthy of the title. I’m envious of your typewriter, I hope to own one for myself someday. Although, if you were to make a mistake, wouldn’t it be frustrating to have to start over? I like that you write your poems in this way, it is somehow more real.

  2. Thanks for the comment on the nostalgia post on my blog! (http://termitewriter.blogspot.com) If I wasn’t pressed for time, I would drag out some of the 60’s and 70’s cards and take pictures of them! I’ll keep that in the back of my mind! Obviously you’re much younger than I am, but cyberspace brings all types of people together. Does anything else on my blog interest you? I’m going to follow you on Twitter. I’m @TermiteWriter

  3. Fantastic and original concept – performance art / automatism poetry / immediate personal interaction with others akin to portrait painting / use of old technology (“old technology becomes art” – Marshall McLuhan)…I’m impressed and inspired…

  4. Valerie Darling

    I have to say that I have never understood poetry. Then, in college I had to dissect one (I chose Among School Children by Yeats) and it was one of the hardest projects I’d ever had to do. But I learned so much and learned to be more patient with poems.

    Now, I come across your blog and your entries and it’s great because it’s so different from everything else that’s out there. I have to just sit and take a breath while reading your poems. I still don’t always understand poetry but I think that it’s part of the charm. So many things are left unsaid and it’s about the emotions behind it.

    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that I love your blog. I think what you’re doing is absolutely amazing.

    1. Valerie–I hope this reaches you…! It’s taken me such a long time to reply to your comment because–well–I am full of lackluster excuses but none of them matter. (I’m not as active on this blog as I probably should be.)

      Your thoughts completely blew me away. It took me a while to find you and your blog :3 I really wanted to connect with you and say THANK YOU for the kind words you shared more than a year ago. I’m following Indecisively Reckless (perfect title) so hopefully we get a chance to keep up with each other (without a year passing by…!)

      Happy holidays! <3

  5. Wow.. What a Blessing meeting you today at Rittenhouse Square Park. And I purchased a frame for the POEM you wrote for me when I left the park. Hope that interview will serve you well….

    You are an InspiratioN‼

    Keep Shining!

    1. Hi, Yvonne! Such a pleasure hearing from you, again. Have you made it out to the west coast, yet?

      I’m glad to hear the poem now lives in a frame 🙂 And thank you again for encouraging those girls to interview me. I wouldn’t have done it without your powerful presence as an influence.

      Happy holidays! Keep in touch!

  6. This is such a great idea and site! Would you mind if I copied your idea? I’d like to try it in my favorite park. Thanks for all your hard work. I’m sure you’ve made a lot of peoples day. You sure have made mine!

    1. Hi, Dicky! Thanks for your comment, and for reaching out. I’d love if you kept the rest of us updated on your Free Poetry adventures 🙂 Feel free to send me an email with an update if you ever get the chance.

      I’m glad I added a bit of cheer to your day. Enjoy your favorite park for me, and good luck!

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