We asked the participating poets to briefly write about how they feel about Random Acts of Poetry and Abebooks.
Glenn, Lorri Neilsen
Why bring out poetry only at weddings and funerals? We can, and should, break out a poem any time, anywhere. Poetry itself is a random act – of celebration, insight, wonder, compassion, mourning. I’ll take a poem with my coffee any day. The Abebooks site is the first place I look for all the books I want, not just the hard-to-find.
What an amazing idea that Wendy Morton has: Random Acts of Poetry! If any place needs random acts of poetry and art in general, it is the Okanagan Valley of BC! Here we live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country and our houses are [not "are" but "and our"] clothes are boring, our houses are stodgy and plain, our roads are strip-malled, our stores are all boxes, and some scoundrels even put up wineries that look like warehouses. We need art, everywhere, to get people to think, to appreciate the beauty of their world, to see what they have afresh and anew-- and since the people won't go to the poets, let the poets go [add "to"] the people! Good on you, Wendy Morton and Abebooks.com. You are heroes! I look forward to being part of the mobilization of poetry commandos in this country. Here we come!
Random Acts of Poetry is a mildly subversive way to undo some of the damage done in classrooms where poetry was an abomination for teachers as well as students. Much poetry is a one to one transmission so poetry thrives face to face. Abebooks is a wonderful operation— superbly organized, so much variety, excellent features such as book sleuth, contests and forums. The best book browsing site anywhere.
Poem power! Random Acts of Poetry, everywhere! Liberate the lanes for poetry, the alleys for verse! I'd do almost anything to lift the word off the page, including Random performances, any time. Raves, ongoing! A poem’s Aha! is the element of surprise... Expect the unexpected in a whole WEEK of Random Acts that will concentrate the mind something fierce. Randomly yours, Randoming onward...
Random Acts of Poetry. The name says it all. We live in a
prose-and cine-centric culture, so the idea of taking poetry, in all its infinite variety, to the street ...
well, like all the best ideas, it's brilliant in its unexpected simplicity. I discovered ABE this summer, and it has quickly become essential to my research and teaching. On ABE, I found a book that I couldn't find ANYWHERE else. ABE is also a the best resource for finding a good price on more popular books; I tell my students that ABE is a good source for their course texts.
I like the notion of random acts of poetry. Unexpected encounters with words can touch a soul like nothing else. What a way to meet people. Makes my blood rush just thinking about it. I've gone to Abebooks in search of books, have always found what I was looking for, and admire your concept and prowess.
When I did a " test drive" of Random Acts of Poetry in the fall of 2003 in the Maritimes in a PT Cruiser( Poetry Travels) supplied by Chrysler and again in Durham, Ontario in the spring of 2004, I found that stopping strangers, reading them a poem and giving them a book of poetry was something that brought delight to those I stopped at random. I saw faces light up when I read them a poem, and even more so when I gave them a book. I thought then that poets across Canada could do the same thing. One day I was reading The New Yorker magazine, and saw an ad for abebooks. It showed a young girl in a tent reading a book and all it said was, "Because you read." Suddenly, I was the girl in the tent. I figured they would be the perfect sponsor for a National Random Acts of Poetry Week across Canada. I called them up. They thought so too.
Pilling, Marilyn Gear
Poetry is where you find the water of life. I like the idea that through the random act of picking a stranger and reading a poem to him, I might be helping a burnt out human being who is wandering in the desert to find his way to the oasis. I used Abebook for the first time today, as I was sending in the information requested for Random Acts. On the site, I located a book I've been looking for for a long time: David Huddle's book on writing, for $3.19. I was thrilled, and have already registered and ordered the book! Will be using the site regularly from now on and will tell my friends about it. Thanks.
I think what appeals to me greatly is that reading a poem in a public place and giving away a copy of the book from which the poem is read is doing several things: first, it is taking the poem out into the general public where it, in fact, began and should still be; and second, it should help reinforce in the minds of people who are on the receiving end the notion of the poem as "living literature". Who knows, maybe it will help break down some of the trepidation many people feel about contemporary poetry. I have used Abebooks service for many years in obtaining desirable books from booksellers all over Canada, the U.S. and Europe. My most recent experience has been just this past month in obtaining copies of several Gail Bowen mysteries. Any writer who hasn't discovered ABEbooks is missing out on an enormous resource at his/her fingertips.
Souaid, Carolyn Marie
Poetry is often perceived as a bitter pill you have to swallow at school, something useless that won’t get you a job in this high-speed, technological world of ours. For a good many, poetry is complicated, inaccessible, something to dissect for parts and regurgitate in a high school English exam. And once they are out of school, many never see another poem again. Breathing a huge sigh of relief. Random Acts of Poetry will be a good opportunity to knock poetry out of the ivory tower where it tends to reside, impenetrably, much of the time. An opportunity to hear a real flesh-and-blood poet, as opposed to a dead white one from the curriculum. An invitation for the everyday person on the street to slow down a little and enjoy a literary burst of energy for what it is—nourishment for the soul. A breath of fresh air.
Yes ... at first I have to admit ... I was skeptical that such a thing could be possible... but as I listen to Wendy's passionate description and absolute conviction that it would happen ... I knew it was only a matter of time. "It just needs a name", she said that night in the car, "something catchy". "How about random acts of poetry?" I offered. And now, a year later, I am so glad to see the project coming into fruition. Thrilled to be given the opportunity to share an art form I love with one and all ... for no reason other than just because. No reason, but for the love of it. So often, after a reading, someone who got dragged along to the event kicking and screaming has come up to me and said ... "wow, I don't usually like poetry". To me, poetry is like music. Everybody likes it. There are just some people who haven't been exposed to the poetry they like yet. I am sad to say that before this project I had not heard of Abebooks ... but am now a huge fan.
Victoria READ Society
After Wendy got the Victoria READ Society involved in this amazing endeavour, we talked about who we could approach as a corporate partner. Abebooks seemed like the obvious choice. They have played an active part in our local community, supporting literacy events like our READ Festival of Poets. They also have an incredible international profile and network that would enable us to get the word(s) out. And they love books! Personally I used Abebooks to find books for READ’s literacy work and my own reading pleasure. Using their website is like a treasure hunt! -- Julie Holder, Executive Director, Victoria READ Society
White, Marian Frances
Giving and sharing poetry is much like commiting random acts of kindness. We could all use a little more of both. Recently a friend of mine, Lorraine Desjardins, was in Paris and took my book of poetry, to the Shakespeare bookstore in the Latin Quarter. It's a unique bookstore that also serves as a library for anyone to walk in and either buy or just sit down and read a book. Knowing my poetry is there to read for FREE with hundreds of other poets is very satisfying. In another instance I gave my aerialist daughter, Anahareo, my book to put on a park bench in Hollywood. I like to picture someone on Sunset Blvd. sitting on that bench and reading Mind Your Eyes. Knowing that more people will have free access to images of my part of the world, inspires me to commit random acts of poetry. Thank you Abebooks and Wendy for this.
Poetry is pretty well invisible in the mass media and most people's lives. Random Acts will put poems and poetry books into people's hands - people who would normally not read a poem. Why poetry? Because it's the song of our species and right now, many songbirds are threatened, if not endangered.