Getting Ready for Artisanal LA: Mass Producing Lines of Poetry

Originally Posted: October 10th, 2013
Updated: December 31st, 2019

Optimism has been a philosophy that keeps me going when logic just won’t cut it. For all of its pros, looking on the bright side certainly comes with a few cons. For instance, I have decided that I will actively strive not to delude myself with extreme idealism, as I am growing weary of crashing head-first into that solid shape we sometimes refer to as reality.

Artisanal LA is this weekend. Don’t ask me why, but I thought it’d be a swell idea to contribute 1,500 poems for the event gift bags. That’s right. 1,500 original poems. Via typewriter.


This hopeful belief of mine started to plummet last Monday. “Okay,” I remember thinking, “instead of one thousand and five hundred individual poems, I’ll just type out the same poem over and over again.” Seemed doable. How can people tell in the moment when things are unrealistic? Realism–at least for me–is most clear during retrospection.

Late nights typing lines of poetry for Artisanal LA. “how could I forget the rubb…” #TyPoInPo (Instagram)

Now that I’m done procrastinating, I am currently typing out 1,500 single lines of poetry. I think I’m somewhere in the 200 mark. These little gems  have been perfect for the #TyPoInPo experiment.

The process is a lot slower than I originally anticipated. Never mind the magnitude of a thousand and five hundred; just the collected seconds, minutes, hours spent on this have been a sort of aloof drudgery. There’s mechanically pounding out various lines of poetry, arranging then rearranging paper, lots of cutting, a light bit of organizing. I will be the first to say I completely underestimated how time consuming and tedious this undertaking would be. With any luck (and oh, there’s that optimism again!) I’ll be finished by Friday night.

I’ve decided to refer to them as my Really Fun Standards. I suppose it’s a good thing that I already have practice writing hundreds of standards as a kid*. I’ve also got a long history of somehow convincing myself that repetition and monotony can be turned into a super amazing awesome game. Like so:

“Variations on a Standard.” It’s fun! I guess. #TyPoInPo (Instagram)

The magic of language! Playing with words is probably one of my favorite parts of poetry. To tell you the truth, I’m not that big a fan when it comes to the actual poems, themselves. Don’t get me wrong; I love poetry. I love poetry! But it’s the “process” I value most.

There is a life that one submits to when exploring and experiencing words, symbols, images, meanings. All of it–all of that which we call poetry, language–coming together then dissolving; the disappointment of being close, the excitement at being near.  Of somehow missing the mark for years before it finally clicks. Oscillating from mystification to numbness and all that lies between. Meaning, memory. A need for words to play nicely (or not!) with others. Words, fragments, lines transforming into revoked statements, petered phrases, silent stanzas. Intention and its shift. The unconscious seep. Flowers in fall. And enjambment, for good measure.


  • Long story short, my parents had to come up with original ways to ground me when I got in trouble. How to ground a kid who likes being grounded? I liked being isolated in my room with nothing to do but read or write or draw. I had fun staring at corners and walls, talking to myself. I enjoyed doing dishes. Thank you, pre-internet days. Standards were also utilized in my household whenever I would practice for spelling bees with my dad: any words I got wrong, I had to write out one hundred times, along with their definitions copied straight from my favorite red dictionary.

8 thoughts on “Getting Ready for Artisanal LA: Mass Producing Lines of Poetry”

  1. Billimarie,
    Here are a few … is it cheating to print them on labels? I am still sans typewriter.

    honey finds a lisp
    lisps of honey; found
    coloring the rough edges into blanks
    sagging sage sags simple
    rain silvered yesterday’s streets
    mmm. cool shivery dark night breeze
    fall’s dust falling; sneeze!

    1. Fantastic!! Thank you, Marty! I can add these to the #TyPoInPo collection. And if you would like, I’ll type them out on my labels with your name on it and give it away during Artisanal LA :)

      1. You are most welcome! Please, do with them what you like. They are lines for your Artistinal LA project! :) But it looks like they accidentally turned into a poem … silly words to do something like that ;D.

  2. Good luck with the typing process ;), Btw, I also liked being grounded ;D

    x Marjaana

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