Sunday, October 7, 2007

The Last Day of Random Acts of Poetry

Before I started my Random Acts of Poetry, I will admit that I found the prospect of approaching strangers with my poems seemed a bit daunting. However, after committing my first Random Act of Poetry on a bus, I was given a very warm and encouraging reception. After that, it was no problem at all. I went forward, spending an entire day poeming passers-by and city workers in coffee shops, malls, street corners, grocery stores and book stores. I poemed 15 people on my first day, in the course of 6 hours (stopping for lunch, etc).

I was also armed with a self-made T-Shirt, promoting Random Acts of Poetry, and two of my own couplets written on the back that read:

One poet thinking;
holding a universal thought.

Sharing poems, extending words to teach;
strangers, connecting, creating community.

I also arranged to be on the local TV news, and scheduled for a reporter and cameraman to follow me around poeming people. They commented on how some people were adverse to my attempts at poeming them, and maybe viewed the poem as something scary that not everyone is open to experiencing. So, the exercise was also an act of awareness for poetry and that it doesn’t have to be the dry, rhyming poem, centuries-old, that perhaps made little sense to someone in highschool. The TV crew also interviewed Claire Rettie at the READ Society as part of this segment, to connect the accessibility to language through poetry for those ESL students and adults who struggle with literacy.

I met some incredible people. One gentleman was strolling downtown with his baby girl, and he later emailed me to share the story of his daughter’s terminal illness – Spinal Muscular Atrophy – with only a life expectancy of 4 years. She is two. He told me he and his wife had quit their jobs to care for her around the clock, and that he had only been downtown about 3 times in the past two years. He was also a writer himself, and was very touched and appreciative to have “some unexpected art thrown his way”. We are now email buddies, as he has invited me to share any news with him because the computer is his lifeline to the outside community these days. I received a few emails from the strangers I poemed, as I had included my contact information, personal email and writing blog, in the books I handed out.

The next morning I learned that a local radio station saw my 15 minutes of fame, and decided to focus on the topic as part of their morning show banter, which also lent more publicity for the cause of Random Acts of Poetry.

During the rest of the week, while focusing on my full-time day job, I managed to poem my colleagues and strangers in their work cubicles and in the lunch room. I also poemed the security commissionaire at the front desk, who thought being poemed was the coolest thing in the world. I also had an opportunity to poem my entire yoga class, a moment before we began our practice, and set a beautiful calming and uplifting mood to bring us all out of our hectic days and into the room.

Only three people refused to have me read them a poem, out of the 53 I asked. Not too bad. Yesterday I poemed three people in a Starbucks coffeeshop, including one woman sitting down with her little girl. I read them a poem about mothers called Picking Flowers, and afterwards the woman turned to her little girl and asked her what she thought the poem meant. The little girl said she liked to pick flowers, and her mom said, “Well, I think the poem is saying that you and your brother are my flowers.” Needless to say, I was almost teary. Everyone who I gave a book to was very touched to receive it, and one or two men said, “My wife will really enjoy reading your poetry, as well.”

Here are the emails I received from those I had poemed:

Hello Andrea. Thank you for a copy of your book! I really appreciate it and it was a pleasant surprise to have some art thrown my way today. I write a bit also but mostly about my experience looking after my terminally ill daughter Shira (song in Hebrew). You can check out some of my articles on Shira’s web site. May you have great success with your writing. Brad.

Visit Shira's Web Site At:

View videos of Shira at:



I really enjoyed your poem at lunch. Thank you.
A nice way to start the week-end.

Best of luck in your writing career.


1 comment:

Stephen said...

Wow, that is brilliant. What an amazing concept.