I spend a fair amount of time derping around on Tumblr. One day I noticed that an account called “One Dollar Poem” had liked a few of my posts (of different genres – I tend to span the fields of writing, chickens, and general internet idiocy over there) and I clicked on the name to see what their deal was. (I also get followed by a lot of pornbots for some reason, so I was seeing if they were legit.) They are legit! For $1 they will write you a poem and post it, for $3 they will write you a poem and mail you the actual poem on paper. I splashed out on the $3 version. Dig it.
Anyway, being the curious sort, I had to know more, so I sent them some questions, and they were nice enough to respond. Go buy some poems once you’re done reading!
1. Someone already asked “who are you” on Tumblr. Are you few, or many? Is this a collective effort, or that of a lone wolf? (Dodge this as you see fit. I’m cool with secrecy.)
M: We’re Alaina and Megan – two friends who live quite far apart but are excitedly collaborating together for one dollar poem.
A: We are two, for now.
2. Who are your favorite poets?
A: My favorite poets are lyricists like Kendrick Lamar, Brandon Flowers, Jai Paul, Ben Gibbard, FKA Twigs, among many others. I used to spend hours reading over different lyrics websites as a kid and, to this day, I pay very close attention to what my favorite bands/musicians are very literally saying to me in their music.
M:My favorite poets are the American greats – Thoreau, Whitman, Emerson. I often travel alone and find lots of inspiration in their works so heavy in themes of nature, solitariness, and self.
3. How did this idea come about? It’s so simple, but so great. Had it incubated for a long time, or did you just jump right in?
M: The idea for one dollar poem was more of a journey than an epiphany. When I was in high school I used poetry as a way for dealing with all the feelings of being a teenager, carrying around notebooks full of things I had written, writing short blips of words strung together on the back of my math homework, and occasionally sharing poems on my livejournal account. On my dresser I kept a poem a stranger had written on a scrap piece of paper and given to me at basement punk show – I would look at it for years and years and always loved it. This was the original inspiration behind one dollar poem.
Daydreaming at a horrible desk job one day I grabbed a scrap piece of paper, wrote Alaina’s name down the side of it, and started filling in the gaps. when I was done, I sent it to her. it reminded me much of the poem I had kept on my dresser for so many years, how it was simple but still evoked a feeling. I thought that I could do this for not just Alaina, but other friends, for acquaintances, for strangers. The idea for one dollar poem was born.
I had shared my idea with Alaina, but building the framework to get started got swept under the rug for a number of years. I wanted to do the writing, but the leg work seemed beyond what I had the time or skill to do. When Alaina contacted me out of the blue this year and said “Let’s do one dollar poem together” I knew it was the energy the project needed.
4. What kind of typewriter do you use? (I have 2 non-functioning IBM Selectrics, and an Erika from East Germany that does umlauts, so I might be a typewriter weirdo.)
A: With no knowledge of typewriters, I bought a Brother SX-4000. Megan and I decided within roughly 24 hours that, in order to get this project off the ground, we would have to jump in head first. So, I bought the first piece of equipment that had good reviews + looked like it wouldn’t take a genius to figure out. I really enjoy typing on it, but I am not used to the slight delay between the speed I type and the speed with which the typewriter can process information. Sometimes I lose my train of thought. I don’t know if I type too fast or if my attention is easily drawn elsewhere. Probably both.
5. Have you ever eaten a whole pie? If so, what kind? How long did it take? One sitting, or over time?
A: Yes. I made Jónsi & Alex’s strawberry pie (http://jonsiandalex.com/recipes) and ate the whole thing by myself over the course of three-ish days.
6. Given the unsustainability of factory meat farming, could you see yourself/yourselves turning to insects as your primary source of protein? (Scientists are thinking about this. I’m vegetarian, so no bugs for me, thanks.)
A: I’d eat a bug but I think I would feel pretty sad about it.
M: I eat a plant-based diet and think I get enough protein through greens, so I’m happy to stay away from insects.
7. Are there other Tumblr poetry/writing/whatever sites you recommend?
A: Not really, and it’s not because I think other sites are not good, but because I don’t seek them out. I am inspired by everyday language. I am interested in my friends’ feelings when they’re deeply emotional about something. And I genuinely find a lot of inspiration in any randomly generated combination of words.
M: Alaina is more versed in Tumblr than I am, but I also keep a travel blog where I have a large catalog of writing: http://bertabroad.wordpress.com