Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spontaneous Poetry

My habit most mornings, during my coffee break, is to read something from the pile of books on my bedside table.

This morning I opened Natalie Goldberg's WRITING DOWN THE BONES at random and found a piece where she'd written poems on demand at a stall, like a school cake stall. Any topic, a page of poetry, no crossings out, for 50 cents a poem.

It was amazingly popular, she said. People queued up to buy her  poems all day — kids, men, women, old and young from all walks of life. The next year she did it again and charged a dollar.

Years later she got a letter from a man who still carried the poem she'd written for him around in his wallet. It and some photos of his family were the only possessions he took with him when he joined the coastguard service.

What a beautiful idea, selling spontaneous poems at a stall.

And how brave. Half the time I can't think what to write when someone asks me to sign their book.
But maybe I'll try it some time.


  1. A group of Singaporean student poets did that last year at Byron Bay Writers Festival. You gave them a topic, chose a colour of paper, and came back later to collect your poem. Not quite as spontaneous as Natalie Goldman, but still fun.

  2. Dianne, thanks for sharing this. I really love the idea. I told a friend about it this morning. I think it would be a great exercise to do in a writing class, too.

  3. I think this is a great idea but there is no way I could ever do something like this LOL

    Have Fun
    Although I would pay someone to do it for that price LOL

  4. That was a lovely article and it's a great idea! Very personal for the reader also. I might just try out that idea. But first I've got to work out what I'd write...