1% of that is just 500. I'm here for 5 days. If I can write and perform for 100 people a day, I can make poetry for 1% of an entire city.
Why? We often talk about the reach and impact of art in communities. About who has access to it and who it is *for*. Part of my joy with RENT Poet is the unconventional people I write for on the street and the satisfaction of getting to know them and validate them through collaborating on art in that moment. The grassroots nature of the practice lets me be a mirror, a toolbox, in any given community. I have talked about the work as analogous to a fortune teller or shaman - a guide that just helps people see what they already know. That, itself, is a healing art.
My friend Jared talks about four crucial elements in art-making: effort, risk, momentum, joy. This is a way to maximize all four - to 'game-ify' my time here with a challenge, to myself and to the community, and to try to build momentum for my stay. By attempting to make connections, and the resulting poems, with even 1% of the city's population in one week, I hope to break through the glass box of the art and literary world and make really populist, red blooded poetry that touches the lives of a significant number of residents of freaking Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Here's the plan of attack:
1. Tonight I have a booth at ArtSee, a big art festival that attracts about 300 people. I will be writing there and have cards for commissions I can write later and mail folks at home. The way this works, I will count couples and groups as multiple people if they jointly commission a piece or commission it for each other, but I have to write or perform for each person I can count.
2. I have a residency at Urban Stampede coffee shop through the week and will be writing for folks the whole time there.
3. On Sunday, I'm going invite people to turn up to the coffee shop for covert gift making and giving of the literary variety. It's my happening/immersive theatre-oriented way of teaching a class. I want to explore bringing strangers together to write not only with but *for* one another.
4. The main event! On Monday I'm going to work to pack out The Word Parlor close to its 100 person capacity! I have a 20 minute set and close out the night, and I'll be writing before and after.