Friday, April 22, 2005

Post-It™ Poet

WARNING: Try this at home. You do not need to be a trained professional. It involves no risk to life or limb that the author is aware of. It is not as exciting as Fear Factor and you will not have to humiliate yourself for money.

I've decided that the world needs more poetry.

I recently attended a funeral and a wedding. On both occasions poetry was recited to invoke the human spirit, albeit for different purposes. I asked myself if those should be the only two times in life when people spout poetry. The answer was a resounding NO.

But what to do?

Give people poetry. Disposable poetry with no strings attached. Poems that could be found in any location, at any time, completely unexpected with no author, no gratification and no criticism. A pure art form. I was sure it would change the world somehow, at least for a few people.

I came up with a plan. I'm not sure when the Muses presented the idea to me. I'm not sure how it evolved. But to me, it was ingenious.

I would write poems on Post-It notes and leave them in random locations throughout the city. The Muses were smiling. I set to work. I procured a bunch of Post-Its from work. I sauntered to Jittery Joe's 5- points, ordered myself a coffee and set to work. I wrote tons of poems. Some were placed immediately. Others were kept in my bag for use at a later time, whenever I might be in a new locale and in need of a random Post-It poem.

On those small sheets of yellow paper I wrote things like:

A Post-It from Buddha

Crush my bones and
filter me into a pot.
Make me into a cup of
spiritual coffee
Drink me to awaken your
body and mind.

-Post-It Poet
(posted on the bottom of a coffee mug at Blue Sky)


Of All Things innate in Humans

to eat
and know the Holy

-Post-It Poet
(rolled up in the toilet paper at Espresso Royale Cafe)


here you are.
You are a poem.

-Post-It Poet
(posted on the mirror of Jittery Joe’s bathroom)


awaits time.

A Poem

This life

-Post-It Poet
(posted on a phone booth downtown)


Poem Speaks

You might think.
I am a woman.
I have.
many periods.

-Post-It Poet
(Mellow Mushroom menu)


The msytic dances in the sun,
hearing music other's don't.

"Insanity," they say, those others.
If so, It's a very gentle,
nourishing sort.

Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
-Post-It Poet
(posted under a plate at DePalmas)

Then I went around posting hundreds of them in random locations. On the bottom of coffee mugs, inside menus, rolled up inside the toilet paper in the bathroom of various establishments, bathroom mirrors in public toilets, pay phones and just about any other place I could think of. I peppered the city with poetry: Jittery Joe's, Earth Fare, DePalma's, Blue Sky, The Globe, all my usual hangouts. They all received my free works.

I imagined dish washers finding a poem on the bottom of the mugs they were about to clean. I envisioned businessmen opening up the menu at a restaurant and finding my poem. I dreamed of someone going into a toilet and finding a poem on the mirror, or better yet, sitting down, unrolling the toilet paper and finding a little poem coiled up inside. I figured they would be surprised, happy or at least moved to think. Who knows? I would never know. That was the beauty of it. An enterprise with no measurable outcome, no final product and no bottom line. A work of pure nonsense. Beauty in action, alive and organic.

I got carried away with it and dreamed of people writing to the papers about random poems they had found in the oddest, most unexpected places; inside the coin slot of a pay phone, or underneath their lunch plate. I dreamed it would change lives. Maybe it did. Maybe it made someone smile. I would never know.

I kept it up for a few months until I ran out of poems and grew tired. Callan, the keeper of my secret, was the only person I ever told of this project. No one else knew but I figure a lot of people witnessed the poems. I was open, awake and poetry was part of my daily life.

No one ever wrote to the papers. It never escalated to that point. But I was confident I had succeeded. Out of all the poems I posted, I was sure at least one had been discovered, and as the discoverer read the poem they had been opened in some small way. I was sure someone had stopped for a moment and thought 'What an odd thing. I just found a poem here under my plate. Interesting. I wonder who did that?'

I was sure of it.



AJ said...

The Post It Poet
Matt, I love this experiment. I remember when you first told me about it. I was living in my car at the time and decided to continue the tradition... not sure if I ever told you.

So the Post-It Poet had a brief resurrection! Perhaps we could turn this into a sort of "Dread Pirate Roberts" (see The Princess Bride) thing..... people all over the world leaving random poems in unlikely places-- and all using the same moniker-- the Post It Poet!

Lets all try this at home.


David S. said...

That's really excellent! I know all those places in Athens, but I must not have been there at the time you were doing it.

I used to do something similar here in DC. When I would go to a concert, or some other place where there were lots of people in a crowd, sometimes I'd write a short poem and leave it where someone would find it. I even put an anonymous email address on there to see if anyone reacted. They never did. I would leave those little slips of paper all over the place, though.

I think this is more widespread than we think. I've recently seen poems written on stickers and stuck in bathroom stalls in Baltimore.

I'm even seeing it occasionally around here. Some people have a desire to write things and leave them for others to read, I think. Like you both say, it's something that should be encouraged.

matt said...

NICE! Glad to see that someone else has had the same idea! Also glad to hear from a fellow Athenian (or at least someone famiilar with Athens!).

Thanks for you comments!


AJ said...

International Post-It Poets

Yeah, we could make this thing international now. We've got David in DC, me in Japan, and Matt in Malaysia.

Perhaps we could add the hobopoet URL as a tagline... see if anyone investigates the Dread Post-It Poet. Ha!


Stefan Mechanic said...

Hehe, I used to do something similar in London as well... I'd sit down in my apartment and make these intricate little cardboard cards with a spiral design, glitter etc. and the caption:


Swimming amidst the sea of near-identical
drones, complete with identical expressions,
emotionless faces, robotical movements,
you are a lively splash of life and
color that has already made my day in
the vast concrete wasteland in which
we all scrape out our existence.

You are loved, you are recognized.. whatever you are doing, keep doing it, you're doing it right..."

I'd drop these cards into the hands of particularily freaky looking girls and boys on the subway with the words "here, you should have this". By the time they finished reading it -- poof! I'd be gone. The cards contained no contact details whatsoever...

I tired of doing it after a while, it was a very Candy Raver thing to do, but the spirit is much the same I guess..


- Stefan Mechanic

(now ambulance-less and going back to London, raising money for the next adventure..)