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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Have You Received A Poem?
Original Ethos (2011)
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.