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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Street Poet


If you were guiding a young person and making a list of things not to plan on doing for a livelihood, writing poetry would be somewhere near the top. So, poets must think out of the box and, in doing so, take it to the streets. There are many benefits to taking your writing to the sidewalks of New York City: no persuading agents of the merit of your work, you receive 100% of the proceeds, and payment is immediate.

And often, skills and arts honed on the streets, for an audience of passersby who are cynical and jaded, will fare well in a more conventional venue. Many well-known performers worked the streets early in their careers. Their material is the product of sifting out the unsuccessful material, leaving that which grabs and holds an audience, frequently with many other options.

Allan Andre hails from New York City. Online searches, however, find him plying his trade in other locales, including San Francisco. See his website here. I met him in Washington Square Park and offered the subject "indecision." Only some minutes later, typing away on a manual typewriter with a carbon copy, he offered me his poem. I made a contribution. See the text of my poem here.

As novel as this enterprise may sound, Allan is not the first or only to try his hand at Poetry While You Wait. Only a few blocks away, on University Place near Union Square, is the Poem Shop of Anayvelyse. German poet William Chrome was also found on the streets of New York City.

Outside of New York, Typing Explosion was a Los Angeles team of three who wrote poetry with the audience choosing titles. They worked regularly from 1998 to 2004. Zach Houston worked in San Francisco and inspired William Chrome to do the same in New York.

I recall reading a quote by a former French President that he could not imagine going to bed at night without reading some Verlaine. Difficult to imagine this as de rigueur for many of our former White House residents. But perhaps the proliferation of street poets is a harbinger of times to come...

Interesting Note: If you type "Verlaine" into Wikipedia, the search only returns Verlaine, the municipality in Belgium. To get the poet, you must enter Paul Verlaine. Is this the result of a poor search engine or commentary of the importance of poetry? :)

8 comments:

Someone Said said...

Like a caricature artist, the street poet waits by his typewriter, for your prompt.

Excellent!

Mary said...

Pretty wise for a kid.

Eddie said...

that is pretty amazing

BANJO52 said...

I'm surprised I haven't lingered on your site before, Brian. Fine stuff here, text as well as photos. I especially like the Scottish piper and the colorful cafe with the pickup in front. And the angry woman in the village--what a sad scene, though at first I thought it would be comic.

Also, I'm glad to see you plugging a poet--poetry is one of the main topics at my blog:
Banjo52.blogspot.com

Hope to see you there someday. Thanks for the feast here.

Michelle Johnson said...

I would love to run into a street poet such as Allan Andre or Zach Houston. Did you get to see Zach's news spot. He was filmed on the streets typing his poetry while customer's went shopping at a grocery store. Pretty cool stuff. My hats off to those who can write poetry and stand in public to publish their poems instantly. Have a great day.

Cherilyn Ferroggiaro said...

I love it!

Theflashstore.com said...

Sweet. Poetry-writing is a gift!

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Hyde DP said...

There aren't many people using old style trypewriters these days - reminds me some of the things I did in my early days.