Poems on demand by the Typewriter Troubadour

Last weekend, a street poet in Bend, Oregon wrote a $4 poem about science.

"Typewriter Troubadour" Jeremy Brownlowe in Bend, Oregon. May 2016.

“Typewriter Troubadour” Jeremy Brownlowe in Bend, Oregon. May 2016.

While walking around downtown and waiting for a table to open up at Deschutes Brewery on my badly needed vacation, I passed by a guy with a typewriter and a sign saying, “Custom Poems–Your Subject, Your Price.” The present customer, a woman with two young daughters, was waiting for a haiku about broccoli while the self-named “typewriter troubadour” labored with no delete key and no white-out. As we waited for our turn, my partner and I deliberated on what subject to choose. An economist, he thought it would be a fun experiment to purchase three poems of increasing price to learn how the poet values his poems. However, there were children in line behind us, and we didn’t want to monopolize the popular resource. When our turn came, the choice was obvious. Having only $4 in my wallet, I asked for a science poem of that price. I didn’t know what to expect, but it actually turned out really beautifully! Much thanks to Jeremy for letting me share it here:

Science poem

Besides traveling the country and selling custom poems on street corners, the typewriter troubadour also does weddings and parties. You can even order a custom poem by Jeremy at Etsy for $15. Check out his website to read more poems, see pictures from his travels, and to contact him for party rates. Also, just yesterday, The Oregonian published a great article about Jeremy called, “Writing poetry for strangers.” You can read it here.

It was so cool to watch Jeremy in action. I can’t imagine the pressure of having to write a poem about a random subject while the customer waits, without being able to make any changes or revisions–what a raw and open act. In closing, I’ll share a poem that I wrote, inspired by the typewriter troubadour.

A sidewalk stranger
composes instant poems
for small donations

His typewriter chews
loudly, masticates paper
with type key teeth bared

the hammer jaw swings
the carriage return swallows
the ribbon tongue wets

with ink saliva,
breaking down ideas into
their soul nutrients

~ “Street Poet” by Rachael Kuintzle, 2016

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