Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hungry Poet Project III

“I used to write poetry,” a guy says to me after asking what I’m doing begging for words.

He’s wearing chinos and a button-up shirt on a Sunday morning, a cup of Starbucks in hand.

My ‘hungry poet’ moniker makes people think of starving artists and it seems everyone has romantic ideas about that.

This guy sits beside me and begins to tell me about the poetry and books he used to read before he got in to high-tech. Eventually he stops talking long enough to write a few words down. They’re good: ‘Immersed. Disconcerting. Hunger’, and I thank him sincerely.

I get ‘Love’ so often the word has become less meaningful than a one-night stand. Peace, serendipity and happiness are losing their charm for me too. All those pretty, smiley words. I guess people who stop and give words tend to be the happy type; or perhaps they uncomfortable writing something negative. How Canadian of them.

I was surprised once when a well-dressed, polite-looking woman wrote ‘anxiety’. Most women write ‘happy or ‘beautiful day’. It felt like this woman made some sort of confession to me, admitted something real.

Sitting cross-legged on sidewalks for an hour or more at a time, I’ve gotten used to reading people; predicting who will stop, who will brush me off. Those high-heeled, belly-button bearing stylish types won’t even look at me; old men will want to chat; young scruffy kids are always good for at least one word, and sometimes a slice of pizza or a gingerbread cookie. And I am often surprised by sudden generosity – a cup of coffee, a blessing, a song.

I see a grey-haired woman coming toward me, holding the hand of a little girl in pink. She looks the type – matronly, friendly – and moving slow enough to read my signs.

“Can you spare a word?” I ask as they get closer.

“I’m sorry dear, I’m from out of town.”

Well, you never can tell.

I begged for words throughout the summer of 2003 – hard to believe it was that ago. It was such a great experience that I can’t help turning my thoughts from time to time to ways to bring it back.

Read more:
Hungry Poet Project
Hungry Poet Project II

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