Poetry 4 Free

This sum­mer, at the very least, I’ll be er­rat­i­cally plant­ing my­self in var­i­ous semi-pop­u­lated places around Cleveland where there is foot traf­fic with a sign that says “Poetry 4 FREE” and a type­writer. I’m hop­ing that folks will stop and ask me for a poem. They give me the sub­ject and I write it for them, right then. They walk away with the poem, and hope­fully I’ve got­ten a bit bet­ter at writ­ing them. If this sounds in­trigu­ing to you, you can fol­low @Poetry4Free on Twitter to find out where I’ll be.

Many years ago, I read an ar­ti­cle about a pro­fes­sor who ran a sum­mer po­etry pro­gram for high school stu­dents. One of the things they ended up do­ing was camp­ing out in the town and writ­ing im­promptu po­ems for strangers/​passerby. I wish I could find the ar­ti­cle. I’m sure it took place on the East Coast, and I keep think­ing Jersey. (Help.) I told my friend RA Washington about ap­pro­pri­at­ing this idea around the same time, and, true to form, he’d al­ready been there. Chopping out po­ems for fivers in Public Square. (My de­tails may be a bit hazy here as well.) When I de­cided to fi­nally get rolling with it, quite re­cently, I men­tioned the project to my friend Kevin and he im­me­di­ately brought up Abigail Mott, who has, and per­haps still is, do­ing ba­si­cally the same thing.

So this idea isn’t even re­motely orig­i­nal, but I’m do­ing it and here’s why.

Because I’m ar­ro­gant

I have ex­tremely high self-es­teem. I think that folks might ac­tu­ally be in­ter­ested in hav­ing a com­plete stranger write them a poem, on the spot. I think that I can do it, and be good at it.

To prac­tice hu­mil­ity

I need to keep my ego reined, so I am giv­ing the po­etry away; the only copy. If it’s the best poem I’ll ever write, I’ll be let­ting it go with whomever re­quested it. I’ll be let­ting go of con­trol for a change. I’m not ask­ing for money, I’m not even pro­mot­ing my­self. I’m still go­ing back and forth on putting my name on the po­ems I pro­duce.

Because I’m a cow­ard

I rarely do any thing pub­licly be­cause I’m afraid of suck­ing, be­ing ig­nored, or be­ing dis­missed. This should help me sack up a bit.

To prac­tice writ­ing

I need to write more, and hav­ing some­one else give me a topic means that I get to prac­tice with­out feel­ing the guilt that I’m just ego trip­ping. Even though, in most ways, I still think I am.

Hopefully I’ll see you out there.


5 thoughts on “Poetry 4 Free

  1. Shalom Adam,

    I’m look­ing for­ward to com­ing down­town to ob­serve the process this sum­mer.



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