Saturday 24 July 2021

The Poetry of Strangers

Finished July 23
The Poetry of Strangers: What I Learned Traveling America with a Typewriter by Brian Sonia-Wallace

This memoir is composed of several essays on different experiences the author had while interacting with the public in different environments as a public poet. He started his journey in this line in 2012 shortly after returning home to California after studying abroad. He had a borrowed typewriter that wasn't in the greatest shape and he sat outside an event and offered poetry to those waiting in line. He asked them to pay what they thought the poem was worth, and he found many of the people did indeed think that it was worth something. Following that he decided to see if he could make a living doing this work, and he did. He found himself not only doing public sidewalk poetry, but also corporate events, weddings, entertainment venues, and "in residence" appearances. He helped one aspiring immigrant to get his poems published. He interacted with people running for office, recovering from devastating fires, living lives outside the norm as itinerant buskers, craftsmen, seers, and poets. 
He worked writing poetry on Amtrak trains, at the Mall of America, and at the Electric Forest music festival. He taught others, both adults and children. He made friends and made connections, some of them very deep. He looked into himself and found skills he didn't realize that he had.
Through many of his situations, he includes examples of poems that he wrote at those events. For his experience with the immigrant, Jeremias Leonel Estrada, he includes some of Estrada's poems as well. All of these I enjoyed. 
His experiences took him all over the country, and opened his eyes to experiences he might never have come into contact with otherwise. This is a fascinating account of his experiences that enlightens the reader and gives hope. 

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