Typewriter Troubadour by Andrea Corradini

Now and then we like to update you on the practice of making poetry in public that has rescued typewriters from extinction and given voice to numerous poets. Here are a few additions to the list:

What’s happening on your keyboard?

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Typewriter Troubadour photo by Andrea Corradini


more fun with typewriters

December 9, 2014

Typewriter Poetry

We’ve posted before on the subject of have-typewriter-will-poem. This sort of free-range poem-making is giving a second life to a lot of sidelined typewriters, putting a few dollars into the pockets of poets and bringing personalized poetry to people who might never expect such a thing. Here are a few additions to the poem-makers:

  • Billimarie, pictured above, travels around with her pink Royal and blogs at Typewriter Poetry.
  • Matthew Rowe conducts his improvisational poetry performances at art gallery openings, monthly art walks, book releases, author’s readings, craft and farmers’ markets, weddings, birthday parties and other social gatherings and private events in Seattle. Find him at Poem Shop.
  • William Curtis and Trip Waterhouse ply their trade at the farmers markets in the U District and Ballard (Seattle) and at Capitol Hill bars in the evening. Read Danielle Palmer-Friedman’s article about them in The Daily and see more about William the Poet.
  • Ryan Ashley Knowles and his Smith-Corona make poems around the San Francisco area. Find out more at Untouched Poetry.
  • Abigail Mott has given up her blue and white Underwood for a Smith-Corona and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for Denver, Colorado, but she’s still typing out new poems and posting some of them on Pick a Subject, Get a Poem.

Happy typing!
. . . . .

Underwood keyboardThe affinity between typewriters and poetry is well established. While, for a while, the manual keyboards seemed on their way to dinosaurhood, the combined appeal of portability and hard copy has inspired a wave of nouveau typists. We’ve covered this topic before (for example, Bellingham’s Poem Store and Poems for sale) and here are a few more chapters in the story.

Jacqueline Suskin has taken her typewriter big time with The Poem Store. In addition to weekly appearances at the Hollywood (CA) and Yamashiro farmers markets, she can be booked to create spontaneous typed poetry for private parties, weddings, fundraisers, festivals and other special events.

Rio Jones prefers a more anonymous approach. The pen-named poet posts his typed poems on Instagram, where he has a vigorous following. (Here’s an article about him in the Huffington Post.)

We’ve written previously about Maya Stein. This summer she is joined by Amy Tingle and a pair of typewriters for TYPE RIDER II: The Tandem Poetry Tour, “a month-long, 1,400-mile trip we will take by tandem bicycle from Boulder, Colorado, to Beloit, Wisconsin. We’ve partnered with Little Free Library, a Wisconsin nonprofit promoting literacy and a love of reading, to help build and install at least 20 free community book exchanges along our route.” Learn more about their adventures on their website, Food 4 the Soul Train.

Finally, more for fun than for poetry, there’s the Boston Typewriter Orchestra.

What’s your typewriter doing this summer?

P.S.: Dean Kahn, of The Bellingham Herald, comments: “Would love to hear from local writers who still use a typewriter instead of newer alternatives.” If you qualify, contact Dean.Kahn[at]bellinghamherald.com.
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Underwood QWERTY keyboard


March 6, 2018

It has been a while since we mentioned typewriter poetry, but here’s a terrific addition to the collection: a program for youth, grades 7 to 12, at the Newton, Massachusetts, Free Library. Once a month, Typewriter Poetry group members gather to compose poems for visiting library patrons. See more in Wicked Local Newton.

and speaking of obsession…

December 6, 2017

We recently posted about the film California Typewriter. Then, purely by chance, we stumbled across Pop Chart Lab, a Brooklyn-based company that researches, designs, and prints posters on a dazzling array of topics, including typewriters!

That’s not their only venture into the literary. Pop Chart also features A Pop Culture Primer on Parts of Speech, A Plotting of Fiction Genres, A Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels, and a Sentence Diagram Set, among many, many others.

Visit Pop Chart Lab online, on Facebook, on Instagram, and all the other places.

now showing

November 26, 2017

The subject of typewriters, and especially the poets who favor them in public, has been a recurring theme here at The Poetry Department. Poetry on film is another. While the new documentary California Typewriter does not purport to be about poetry (it does include poets Silvi Alcivar and Darren Wershler), it celebrates a favored writing tool as object, muse, and even obsession. The Los Angeles Times calls the film “rich, thoughtful, meticulously crafted.” California Typewriter is screening in theaters nationwide.

Reasons to go to…

May 9, 2017

If you are interested in concrete and visual poetry, you may want to plan a trip to Miami this winter. November 17, 2017 through April 15, 2018, The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) will present From the truer world of the other: Typewriter Art from the PAMM Collection. In 2016, PAMM acquired over 400 language-based works from the 70,000+ piece collection of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry. The upcoming exhibition explores the experimental visual and poetic typewriter creations of approximately 15 artists, including Carl Andre, Henri Chopin, Dom Sylvester Houédard, d.a. levy, and Françoise Mairey.

See this 2014 Poetry Department post for additional informative links about the Sackner collection.

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image: Dom Sylvester Houédard. from the truer world of the other (dsh 720113), 1972. Typewriting on paper, 13 x 8 inches. Collection Pérez Art Museum Miami, acquired from The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

get it write

February 10, 2017

Mindport Correspondence Club

Is correspondence with politicians, local organizations, far flung friends, on your list right now? Need info about size and postage requirements when making your own postcards? Need supplies? Typewriters? Mindport’s Correspondence Club meets Saturday, February 11, 2017, 10:30am-12:30pm, 210 W. Holly St. in Bellingham. Bring your addresses and postage, they supply the rest!

Half-day retreat in Seattle

February 7, 2017


Join Susan Rich and Kelli Russell Agodon at their ONE-DAY Generating New Work Writing Workshop in Downtown Seattle on Saturday, March 4, 2017. There will be a single extended class, “Generating New Work,” from 10 am to 2:30 pm, with a short break for lunch.

Together, we will write poems inspired by an array of new writing prompts. You will leave with at least 5-7 poem starts, most likely more! Spend focused time writing poems in a safe nurturing environment. Poets of ALL levels welcome from the beginning poet to the published author. Come spend the day with us: writing, laughing, and surprising yourself with what you can do in a short time — with creative guidance and just the right atmopshere.

You can find additional details on The Alchemist’s Kitchen and registration information here.

ALSO note that registration is now open for Susan and Kelli’s Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women, September 8 – 10, 2017, in La Conner, Washington.

rolling with the books

August 23, 2016

St Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore

If you’re a regular here at The Poetry Department, you know that we’re big fans of independent bookstores and now and then we mention some that are particularly cool. St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary falls into that category.

Based in Eureka, Montana, the van travels throughout Cascadia to fairs, festivals and neighborhoods to sell used books. Launched in June 2015, the bookstore on wheels was named for St. Rita of Cascia, the patron of impossible causes. With shipwright-worthy shelves — “The books stay on the shelves perfectly! Haven’t lost one yet even driving across fields, on gravel roads and across the mountains.” — plenty of books and cards, and a typewriter for people to try out (many have never touched one before), the Bookstore becomes a hub of activity for the duration of its visit.

See for yourself. St. Rita’s Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary will be in Portland, Oregon, on Friday, September 2, 2016, 9:30am to 4:30pm, in front of Ace Typewriter at 7433 N. Lombard Street, and Saturday, September 3, 10:00am to 2:00pm, at 1448 NE 28th (near Fred Meyer). You can follow St. Rita’s on Facebook and read occasional posts on the Amazing Traveling Bookstore website.

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