Today I wrote my 50th poem in my Poetry 4 Free project. It’s been great fun so far; despite the heavy mocking from my coworkers and the obvious & unspoken doubtfulness from certain folks I know, it has fulfilled, at least in part, all of the goals I had in mind when I started this back in April.
I’m definitely less afraid to write. I have become much better at taking a topic and starting to write on it immediately. I think the poems I produce in 5-10 minutes could be deemed fair for that time frame. I’ve gotten into a few ruts though, and have been trying to change up my methods in order to keep things fresh. I don’t want to be a poem factory, so the repetition is a bad from which I am attempting to draw some good.
I received open-armed permission from the wonderful folks at the Cleveland Public Library to set up every Friday in the Eastman Reading Garden, and post-facto benediction from the lady who manages Star Plaza for Playhouse Square Development. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a public park.
Lots of people give the side-eye, fewer stop for a poem, and, it seems, a large majority of the folks that do stop are interested in telling a story about the dude with the hand-painted sign and a typewriter. The first was a post on Captured Cleveland. Dan Moulthrop from Civic Commons stopped by for a poem and tweeted about it. A fellow writing for Edible Cleveland wanted to put a blurb about me in an article on Walnut Wednesdays. A collage artist asked to use my poem & photo in one of her works. My friend David Jurca even stopped by and took some video one day. Another day, another fellow did so.
I’ve had several folks ask for poems as gifts, and a few return to tell me how much the poem was appreciated. I’ve had sad and poignant requests from estranged husbands, sweet requests from loving wives, silly requests and challenging ones. I’ve written about everything from mortality to anal bleaching. I once accepted a silver dime as a tip, and I still feel vaguely guilty about that.
I’m having a blast, even on days when I get skunked. But I’m also starting to sense that the current status quo isn’t as fulfilling as it once was. I may need fresh ground to cover (I plan on setting up shop in Lincoln Park during the Arts in August events), or I may just be feeling too at ease with the paradigm. I’m open to suggestions about how to shuffle the project in different ways, and I’m very interested in further ways that I can make it less about me. One thing I need to do is write poetry outside of this project. I’ve been very prolific for me, but the practice has resulted in little actual poetry game time. Another change to be conscious of.
You can follow this project on Twitter @Poetry4Free; find out where I’ll be and stop by for a poem. I hope you will.