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.