Book Review: Typewriter Rodeo (Real People, Real Stories, Custom Poems)

Oh my gosh. This whole concept just gets me thinking and dreaming of poetry. I wrote a poem nearly every morning (I do it over here) but these talented folks set up with typewriters and write for hours, as people come up and ask for a poem on a suggested topic. The poems are just marvelous and what’s missing with the book is the sound of the typewriters in action (there should be an audio file on the cover that you can push to listen as you read.)

Here’s a video of four hours of typewriting ..

Anyhoo … Typewriter Rodeo, the book, seeks to capture the experience of Typewriter Rodeo, the experience, where the four poets — Jodi Egerton, David Fruchter, Kari Anne Holt and Sean Petrie — set up at festivals, Maker Spaces, bars and restaurants, and special events, and write poemspoemspoemspoems for people, sometimes for hours. It seems like magic. (Special thanks to my friend, Mary Lee, for turning me on to Typewriter Rodeo)

The book collection here — Typewriter Rodeo: Real People, Real Stories, Custom Poems — is full of the poems written on the fly with little more than a word or phrase, and quick connection between poet and audience — or at least, the ones they have remembered to take a picture of before the poem leaves in the hands of the requester. The four writers tell stories of their experiences as poets-on-demand (“The mistakes are free” is one of my favorite mantras of theirs), and some of the poem recipients also share stories. In fact, what emerges is how many people are surprised at how deep the poetry goes, capturing their emotions and thinking in a way that no other writing-from-a-stranger can probably do.

The result is this beautiful, crazy collection of poems — heart-felt, deeply emotional, funny and insightful, and it makes me want to set up a typewriter on the neighborhood corner and write on request, as if I could pull that off. (Hey, maybe I could! You could, too!)

Peace (poems bring it on),
Kevin

 

 

Two SmallPoems about the Clocks


IMG_1697 flickr photo by jmerelo shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

With the end of Daylight Savings, my brain — already a tricky object at night — is fairly confused, and that makes for some interesting poems, I guess.

Yesterday’s Poem:

Oh,
hour,
lost hour,
you gentle flower –
hidden
in the shadows
of bloom –
we forgot
you were there
until you
reappeared
at the door
of dawn’s
empty room

Today’s Poem:

My brain
won’t believe
what the clock
seems to say

I’m open-eyed
and wide awake
with hours before
the day

Peace (tick tock goes the clock),
Kevin

Curating a Collection of Place-Based SmallPoems

CLMOOC WriteOut Place-Based Daily Poems

Every morning, in October, I used the daily place-based theme of the day for CLMOOC and Write Out to both write poetry (at home, before work) and doodle (at school, with kids). While I was posting the small poems at my poetry site, I wanted to find a way to gather them together, to curate them, with the calendar that Wendy had built for us in CLMOOC with every theme listed.

ThingLink did the trick. Hover over a day, and click the green button to read the poem.

I had the idea of adding an audio version of each poem to the days, but never got to it. Yet. I might still do that, since it is easy enough to upload audio into each tagged item in ThingLink.

Also, here is my complete calendar of daily doodles from the classroom — there’s no real correlation between my doodles on the themes and the poems on the themes, other than both were inspired each day by the same theme.

CLMOOC WriteOut Place-Based Daily Doodles

Peace (day by day, poem by poem, doodle by doodle),
Kevin

 

 

Poems With Strangers and Friends: The #WriteOut #SmallPoems eBook

We had nearly 30 small poems written and shared in our open Google Slides for the Write Out project. I gathered up the files and used SoundSlides to create a short video of this wonderful collection of words and images and collaboration.

Go directly to SoundSlides to watch

or

Go to the Slideshow to read at your own pace (but without music!)

Peace (in the poems),
Kevi

The #WriteOut Audio Collaboration: 25+ Voices in a Poem

Where We're From Collaboration

After a week or so of asking (cajoling, sometimes) folks to record lines and stanzas from the collaborative Where We’re From poem (with lines submitted by more than 100 people during the first part of the Write Out project), the last track was delivered, put into place, and the collaboration … is complete.

Take a listen

Read the poem

There were 25 people who submitted voices (well, technically more, since Kim D. had her entire class of young students reading) and recording tracks to this collaborative poem, which runs nearly 13 minutes long. That’s  a bit to listen to, but the effect is what we had hoped for — a quilted collage of many voices reading a poem written by many people, about place and home and family and more.

When we talk about connected learning ideas and collaboration, we hope that this kind of project is something that can inspire us to create together, to make together, to publish together. Sure, there are problems — some of the audio files sound different because of the myriad of apps and microphones. We did our best to level things out, but there’s plenty of rough spots.

That gives the audio poem charm, though. People are different, and our voices are different, and the audio collage reflects that in meaningful ways. If you participated in any aspect of this — from writing lines, which were dispersed and gathered in themes of stanzas and sections to recording assigned parts — thank you.

Peace (sounds like the world writing),
Kevin

Where We're From Poem: Infographic

Where We’re From: 100+ Writers Add Lines to #WriteOut Collaboration

Where We're From Poem: Infographic

When we asked if people might contribute to a poem based on George Ella Lyon’s Where I’m From and inspired by Kwame Alexander’s crowd-sourced version for National Public Radio, we didn’t know if anyone would answer the call. Well, they sure did. We had more than 100 contributors to a collective, collaborative poem that spans more than 8 pages of writing.

Wow.

We are now in the process of getting more than 30 volunteers to read stanzas from the poem, which we intend/hope to weave together to create an audio mosaic of voice for the poem itself.

Here is the text of the poem:

Peace (is where we’re from),
Kevin

The Mess I’m Making (is the Poem I’m Writing)

Mess of a Poem in draft

I was writing and rewriting this poem during some quiet writing time in the classroom the other day. Not sure the framing of the poem works, but the mess of the page is how I often write (although when I write with keyboard and screen, all that notation and revision becomes rather invisible).

Peace (poems),
Kevin

Poems of/from the Classroom

new school bike racks

Yesterday, during an extended freewriting time in my four classes of sixth graders, I wrote these small poems, trying to capture the energy and essence of each class period.

Period One

Murmurs in the room
captured voices – planning —
talking slowly — each
demanding attention — sharing
thoughts — go wander in among them;
insights fueling discovery –
they teach each other
ways into the world

Period Two

Almost like:
marbles on a wooden floor
a hornet’s nest, disturbed
glitter in a spring wind
confetti from a skyscraper
voices at a riot
eraser marks on paper

This is how the mind works
the longest day of the year
so far

Period Three

This machine
writes stories —a 20 headed monster
of ideas

We walk in
on forty feet, pencils
gripped against the void

We voice dissent, but not discontent,
sowing chaos — long thin threads
pulled against the quilt of conflict

Only gathered up together like this
do the strands become woven
into something newer, stronger, better
than before

Our stories bound
shared, and beautiful

Period Four

What if
we were all just characters
in a comic strip? one asks
and we wonder — what if
everything we said was in bubbles
above our heads? another pondered —
and we wondered — and what if
we could reach our hands
beyond the wall itself to grab hold
of our future self? another added

and at that, the room went quiet,
an empty frame of thought

Peace (noticing it),
Kevin

 

#RevolutionaryPoets: A Poem Calls Home

I am dipping into some of the assignments that my friend, Ian, is doing in a university course called Revolutionary Poets Society, as he shares things via Twitter and his website, inviting others to join in. The second prompt calls for a poem of home in an assignment entitled Where I Begin. This is mine.

 

A Poem Calls Home

where we crouched in the corner
of the abandoned swimming pool, dark water
thick with ferment, time and algae

where we punched in stolen nails
to make a ladder to climb the stairs
to the stars of the disappearance tree

where we bog-jumped in winter,
cracking surface ice in shoes too thin
for warmth, the bonfires always raging

where rain meant shelter, beneath
the eaves of leaves, an excuse to dive
even ever deeper into the woods

where we laughed, went quiet,
cried some, wondered where we’d be,
and if we’d all be there, at all

where we passed the pipes of stories
along in quiet, hidden passions, beneath
the guise of restless childhood

where we lost some, the shared grief
its own river beneath us, our empty
shouting at the skies at night

where just beyond the distance,
if we ever bothered to listen,
we might still hear the voices

of parents calling us
home 

Peace (in remembering),
Kevin