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.

. . . . .
photo Elyssa Shalla

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!


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.

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

such a good idea…

May 5, 2015

Poetry in Motion: The Poet Is In

It’s over, so don’t get too excited, but oh, to have been there… When poets leave their nests, typewriter in hand, anything can happen. For lucky New Yorkers who happened through Fulton Center between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on April 23, it was Poetry in Motion: The Poet is IN.

During those hours, with musical accompaniment, “an array of award-winning poets, including NY State Poet Laureate Marie Howe, Pulitzer Prize-winner Sharon Olds, and Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Café, will sit in a booth (inspired by Lucy’s booth from the Peanuts comic strip) and write poems for those who request one.” Sponsored/produced by the Poetry Society of America in partnership with the MTA Arts & Design, the day’s events were part of MTA’s Poetry in Motion program, which, since 1992, has been placing poems in subway and rail cars, on kiosks, on the back of MetroCards and elsewhere.

Read more on the MTA site or listen to the story from NPR.

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