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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

More Poems on the Spot

By February 16, 2012

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During National Poetry Month 2010, we noticed lots of poets with typewriters going out in their local communities, from Seattle to New York to Miami to San Francisco, offering poems written to order on the spot. Since then, we’ve seen poetry on demand offers springing up in more cities across the country:

Have you seen a poet with portable typewriter offering poems to go in your town? Tell us, please, and we’ll add them to our list.


February 18, 2012 at 10:01 pm
(1) zach houston says:

I began this project in 2005. It was featured on cbs sunday morning and the evening news in 2007 and again in 2008.
I sat in the nelson-atkins fine art museum for six weeks summer 2011 writing poems for 8 hours a day. I am fairly confident that all of these people are my progeny. I knew of some but not of others. While I sometimes struggle with missed opportunities, its nice to know there are thousands and thousands of more poems in the world because of what seemed at the time, a fairly simple gesture. In our tech-saturated world it seems to really strike a chord with the public. And another thing; its not just during national poetry month. This is my full time job. I write every saturday at the ferry plaza farmers market in san francisco and have for 4 years. And I try not to sell online. it really dilutes what I consider to be the art of the piece, looking someone in the eye and producing the poem by being human together

February 19, 2012 at 1:16 am
(2) bill keys says:

I started writing poems for people, by hand, in fall of 2001. I was working on a poetry booth made of pvc that I could easily left and walk around in. I’d made it with cardboard, very much in the spirit of the peanuts cartoon. The idea was that I could poem and it be a bit of a theatrical thing as well. i figured that to be more lucrative on the wharf. My van, with all the pvc and cardboard, was stolen. A friend suggested I dress in last century garb and use an old portable typewriter, but the notion of it seems strange and cumbersome. Then I was walking up to dolores park telling a friend about my van getting ripped off and still wondering what to do; i came across you with a typewriter. The only thing I got from you was to see that the typewriter was a good way to go. It’s a big stretch to call me your progeny. I’d already written hundreds of poems for people by hand before you hit the street yourself.
I’ve not done the research but, I’m very certain your not the first to poem with a typewriter.
You remind me of

February 19, 2012 at 1:20 am
(3) bill keys says:

P.S. That seems to read as though I was working on that poetry booth in 2001. It was fall 2008.

March 2, 2012 at 11:04 am
(4) matt says:

Wow, Zach Houston! Though I never personally commissioned a poem, I have great memories of this project. I can personally vouch for Mr. Houston beginning this project in 2005, as I had several conversations with him as he sat writing poems outside the Berkeley Bowl. Hope the project is going well..

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