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!
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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

the new old Howl

March 25, 2021

If you happen to have a spare $425,000 to spend on your poetry collection, hasten over to Type Punch Matrix, where a “Previously unknown original carbon typescript” of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” is on offer. In “Very good overall” condition, the 11-page copy “was discovered among the papers of bohemian and arts benefactor Annie Ruff, and is the exact carbon struck on Ginsberg’s own typewriter from the top ribbon copy now housed at Stanford among Ginsberg’s papers.” Read the story.

still typing after all!

August 16, 2020

Some weeks back, we were musing about the typewriter poets put out of work by the pandemic. It turns out that not all of them are sitting idle. Cathy Thorne, AKA Everyday People Typewriter Poems, still attends parties and writes personalized poems to mark special occasions, but now she does it on Zoom. Who says poets aren’t resourceful? More on Facebook.

Dear reader,

July 6, 2020

In response to a question you didn’t ask, maybe because you’re too polite to inquire about a magpie mind, I will say yes, it is getting more challenging to find fuel to feed the furnace of daily posting during a pandemic.

Today, I started thinking about all of the plein air typewriter poets who earn a few bucks poeming on demand at festivals and farmers markets, now out of work. That line of thought led me to the wonderful oz.Typewriter, Robert Messenger’s act of love and obsession since 2011. Here you’ll find the mechanics, history, and lore of typewriters, richly illustrated and somewhat magpie-ish, too, from Canberra, Australia.

Following an oztypewriter link to Welcome to the Typosphere, I was prompted to read a recent article in The New York Times, “Snail Mail Is Getting People Through This Time.” That made me curious about the recent stamp releases from our beleaguered post office (above).

It also prompts me to remind you that there are still 12 days remaining to sign up for the August POetry POstcard Fest. It launched early this year, with plenty of postcards already exchanged, but as more people register, new groups (of 32 each) are forming and can begin sending poetry postcards as soon as they receive their list. Just another way to get through this time. (Earlier posts on PoPo Fest here.)

With thanks for your attention, Likes, and Comments, I remain your masked correspondent,

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Voices of the Harlem Renaissance, Forever stamps, issued May 21, 2020

typing visual stories

July 13, 2019

While we’re on the subject of visual poetry (see yesterday’s post about the Sackner Archives), we should mention the dazzling work of Leslie Nichols. Nichols types portraits. For example, Siobhan, pictured above, is a 9.5-inch square portrait of artist Siobhan Liddell created by Nichols on a manual typewriter with text from “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes” written by Sarah Grimké in 1837. What has your typewriter done lately?

words with a view

April 15, 2019

We’ve posted a number of times about typewriter poetry. Here’s an addition to that collection.

Plateau Point is located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. It’s a six-mile hike one way on Bright Angel Trail, but the views are stunning. “During three days of unseasonably warm weather” near the end of 2017, National Park Service ranger Elyssa Shalla carried a table, a chair, and a typewriter to Plateau Point and left it there for three days “with an invitation for visitors to reflect on their experience and type a note on the analog machine.” Seventy-six people did.

For her efforts, Shalla was honored with the 2018 National Freeman Tilden Award, which goes to the top interpreter in the National Park Service.

See some samples and additional photos of this engaging project on Towers & Type.

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photo Elyssa Shalla

projects we love

April 11, 2018

Here’s a heartwarming project that came by way of a forwarded email.

At Oakton Elementary, in Oakton, Virginia (Fairfax County), Andrew Relihan’s 6th-grade class has opened a Poem Store. Inspired by a visit to Bellingham and the typewriter performance work of Erica Reed and Natalie Fedak, Mr. Relihan’s class invites people to suggest a topic, provide a mailing or email address, and then “Pick your price: Once you have thoroughly enjoyed your custom made poem we ask you to pay what it was worth to you (not to exceed $5).” They created a Google form for the orders and a dedicated page for payments.

Andrew Relihan explains: “The funds collected from our Poem Store will go toward buying the materials needed to build a middle school for the community of Tres Reyes in Honduras. The community’s school currently only has room for students up to 6th grade and will give those students a chance to continue their education! This effort will be carried out by Students Helping Honduras and the One Thousand School initiative.” Relihan spent a week last summer helping bring La Escuela Yolanda Melindez in Santa Rita one step closer to its completion (officially opened January 2018), working alongside members of the community, both young and old, stacking bricks, mixing cement, and sharing stories and meals with each other.

In an email received yesterday, Mr. Relihan says, Monday “was the first day that students worked on ‘filling orders.’ They were a little overwhelmed at the prospect of writing for an actual audience, but it was clear that they were motivated to put their best work down on paper. They will have the rest of the week to work on filling orders during our Language Arts block, and I’d imagine that a few students would be motivated to continue filling orders in their free time (assuming we have anyone who comes to the table late).”

To support this wonderful National Poetry Month project, click on the Google form link and name your topic!

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It’s National Poetry Month and the city of Woodstock, Illinois, is going all out, thanks to the inspired leadership of the Atrocious Poets. A poetry collective of “writers, accidental typewriter connoisseurs, and appreciators of the offbeat who look for ways to bring poetry into the streets of this strange and beautiful town,” Atrocious Poets are creating a month-long celebration of poetry, using the verse of Illinois native Carl Sandburg as theme and inspiration.

Events include discussions, workshops, readings, writings, a guided poetry walk, poetry displays, poetry “in the wild” (in shop windows, hanging from tree branches, on coffee sleeves, on restaurant menus), and much more. There will also be a collaborative poem: “Look for our typewriters around town, and stop and add a line or two to OUR poem.”

More Atrocious Poets on Facebook, Twitter @atrocious_poets, and Instagram.

Atrocious Poets, we like your attitude!

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