Typewriter poetry and blogging — updated

Some days all you need

A poem for a friend composed on a manual typewriter

At least eight years ago, an old beat up manual typewriter provided a platform to compose poetry and other writings.1 It was an effort to return to an intentional practice of crafting poetry and prose without distraction of disruptive media.

For years and years, a notebook, journal or sketchbook was never far from reach. But one night after a long night of poetry and music at Beanstreets followed by an even longer time of coffee and conversation at Old Europe, a friend convinced me to try blogging.

Photo courtesy of @mxmulder

Sample journal page of poetry

The immediate response to blogging was infections.2 Connecting with people all over the country, sharing writing samples or books read and being part of an active digital community was exciting. And the feedback on written work was quick — sometimes within a couple days or hours. The practice of writing allowed me to hone the craft of creative writing and exposed me to other writers across the country. One of those bloggers actually showed up at a poetry gig I did. She was on a cross-country trip to visit friends and wanted to visit in real life.

Over time, I noticed that my practice of writing notes, daily sketches and other activities had all but disappeared. Relying on keyboards, display screens, hard drives and servers presented became a crutch. My writing drafts and sketches appeared deceptively crisp and final in neatly formatted text documents and web blog interface windows.

So, I pulled the plug. Returned to handwriting and typing as practice.3 Some friends and fellow poets saw a few samples of typewritten work and suggested I post it on my blog. It was a novelty. A curiosity. So, I did.

One of the first photographs of a poem I composed on a typewriter was written for a friend. It was posted about this time of year — in 2011.4 A few days later I followed up with another poem5 that was later read at poetry event where I and other poets were dubbed “the next generation” of Asheville poets.6

I do not claim to be the first person to post an image of a poem typed on a manual typewriter. But I noticed a trend in that direction about a year after posting those images of typed poem sketches.7 Not sure exactly if I started the trend. Probably not. Maybe other like-minded individuals who sought to return an organic practice of handwriting and typing as a mode of composing their visions and ideas.

After relocating to the southern boarder of the Great White North8, I continued using the manual typewriter as a mode of composing new work — both poetry and prose. Some of this was due to the original intent of the practice — crafting content without distraction of disruptive media. Some of the use of the manual typewriter was due to a period of time that I was without a functional laptop and no internet access. A local writers group saw a lot of typed first drafts from that manual typewriter. One of those typed drafts was later published as a short story.9

Most recent first drafts have all been handwritten if not typed on one — of now two — of the manual typewriters. Blogging. Well, that has atrophied. Maybe I’ll post some photos of typewritten drafts this year as a way to keep the blog active. But, to celebrate an eight year anniversary of analog writing — I’ll keep most of it offline and on paper.10

Keep your stick on the ice and remember to use the lowercase L key when typing the numeral one.

NOTES:
[1] In truth, I composed poems on an electric typewriter prior to that. Did it for decades. Did not own a personal computer until… well, that is another story.
[2] That was when there were a mere couple million web blogs in the world. Now, there are some platforms, like Tumblr, boasting 100 million blogs. The blogosphere has become quite congested.
[3] Examples of some the 30 poems in 30 days journal posts with photos: here, here and here.
[4] April 1, 2011, blog post.
[5] Poem: “Never Look A Doughnut Dealer in the Eyes”
[6] “Rhyme and reason” by Alli Marshall, Mountain Xpress, April 6, 2011. Accessed April 2, 2018. “https://mountainx.com/arts/art-news/040611rhyme-and-reason/”
[7] Examples include Typewriter Poetry (though it seems the web site has not been active since March 19, 2015), Remington Typewriter Poetry (this site too has become inactive with the last entry posted June 2016), and the most popular is Tyler Knott (though his web page has an archive going back to 2003 (which is odd because he uses Tumblr as a platform and Tumblr was launched in early 2007… maybe he migrated his content from some other source to Tumblr… but I digress) the posted images do not begin until 2012 (unless I am mistaken).
[8] A reference to Bob and Doug McKenzie, fictional brothers who hosted the show Great White North (a reference to Canada, aye). For sample episode view Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pPRaD6TKLc
[9] Left of the Lake published “Mortal Coil” in 2015. https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2015/08/31/publication-of-mortal-coil/
[10] Original post published on April 21, 2015 https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2015/04/21/typewriter-poetry-and-blogging/

Box of Poetry

A challenge motivates me to think of solutions. In this case, the challenge was inspired by a reader of this blog who commented: “It would be lovely to cover a little box with beautiful words…” Great idea!

After a couple concepts and a couple drafts of what I hope are “beautiful words” here is a custom origami box of poetry. The reward is to watch the user/reader pick up the box and decipher the order of the poem.

DSCN3314_HD_IG

[Front] “Box of poetry”

DSCN3315_HD_IG

[Left flap] “In a land where/the blind lead the/blind/the poets are the seers/the judges/the priests/the relics of a religious/age… It amuses the/people to hear their words/but few convert/and see the word/written/or

DSCN3316_HD_IG

[Right flap] “spoken/on the wings of/pages/on the winds of the east/or across the western/prairie… Spoken to the/scribes and bound into/the souls of the faithful/the few illuminated by a package/of poetry/written on a scrap/of grocery bag/folded into/a cipher and/left on a/window/sill”

DSCN3319_HD_IG

[Back] “this is your box of poetry to light your way in the land of the blind/after reading these lines eat the words and burn the box”

Typewriter poetry and blogging

Some days all you need

A poem for a friend composed on a manual typewriter

At least five years ago, an old beat up manual typewriter provided a platform to compose poetry and other writings.1 It was an effort to return to an intentional practice of crafting poetry and prose without distraction of disruptive media.

For years and years, a notebook, journal or sketchbook was never far from reach. But one night after a long night of poetry and music at Beanstreets followed by an even longer time of coffee and conversation at Old Europe, a friend convinced me to try blogging.

Photo courtesy of @mxmulder

Sample journal page of poetry

The immediate response to blogging was infections.2 Connecting with people all over the country, networking, sharing and being part of an active digital community was exciting. The practice of writing allowed me to hone the craft of creative writing and exposed me to other writers across the country. One of those bloggers actually showed up at a poetry gig I did. She was on a cross-country trip to visit friends and wanted to visit in real life.

Over time, I noticed that my practice of writing notes, daily sketches and other activities had all but disappeared. Relying on keyboards, display screens, hard drives and servers presented became a crutch. My writing drafts and sketches appeared deceptively crisp and final in neatly formatted text documents and web blog interface windows.

So, I pulled the plug. Returned to handwriting and typing as practice.3 Some friends and fellow poets saw a few samples of typewritten work and suggested I post it on my blog. It was a novelty. A curiosity. So, I did.

One of the first photographs of a poem I composed on a typewriter was written for a friend. It was posted about this time of year — in 2011.4 A few days later I followed up with another poem5 that was later read at poetry event.

I do not claim to be the first person to post an image of a poem typed on a manual typewriter. But I noticed a trend in that direction about a year after posting those images of poem sketches.6 Not sure exactly if I started the trend. Probably did not. Maybe other like-minded individuals who sought to return an organic practice of handwriting and typing as a mode of composing their visions and ideas.

Here is to a five year anniversary of analog writing.

NOTES:
[1] In truth, I composed poems on an electric typewriter prior to that. Did it for decades. Did not own a personal computer until… well, that is another story.
[2] That was when there were a mere couple million web blogs in the world. Now, there are some platforms, like Tumblr, boasting 100 million blogs. The blogosphere has become quite congested.
[3] Examples of some the 30 poems in 30 days journal posts with photos: here, here and here.
[4] April 1, 2011, blog post.
[5] Poem: “Never Look A Doughnut Dealer in the Eyes”
[6] Examples include Typewriter Poetry, Remington Typewriter Poetry, and the most popular is Tyler Knott (though his web page has an archive going back to 2003 (which is odd because he uses Tumblr as a platform and Tumblr was launched in early 2007… maybe he migrated his content from some other source to Tumblr… but I digress) the posted images do not begin until 2012 (unless I am mistaken).

November PAD is almost here

Over two months of writing a poem a day

Anyone interested in the November PAD (Poem-A-Day) Chapbook Challenge? Details are available on Writer’s Digest website.

It has been awhile since I mentioned the writing exercise I often practice of writing 30 poems in 30 days. A couple of years ago I stopped posting poems on this blog under the advice of a published poet. Poems posted on blogs qualify as “published” and therefore are ineligible to be published in a literary journal or magazine.

So, I started writing poems for friends and others on a manual typewriter and posting the photos—like this short poem for a fellow poet, writer and friend: “Some days all you need.” Or this poem written for the wonderful staff at Dunkin Donuts who always know my order and have it ready for me before I get to the counter: “Never look a doughnut dealer in the eyes.” It is not that I wouldn’t like to get published in a literary journal or magazine, but I really enjoy the process of writing to a specific person or persons.

Due to unemployment followed by new employment challenges, the practice of using the manual typewriter to compose poems ceased due to circumstances I can not share at this point. But I kept composing and writing offline—analog, if you will. In lieu of a manual typewriter, I discovered an app awhile ago. There’s always an app for something, right? During the last month or so, I composed several poem sketches. In the next weeks, I shall share some of these visual poems. Tomorrow, the first one will be posted.

For the month of November I plan to compose a poem a day. Who is with me?