I proceeded to spend my time around performing at Conduit Theatre's Word Parlor and ArtSee just writing for folks at a coffee shop, talking to local artists in galleries, and singing Karaoke until 4am with local actors. It felt great. It felt like community.
It also felt like about 100 poems, total, which is still averaging an impressive 20 a day but not near the 500 goal.
But I am sneaky.
The artist I ditched a lot of my poetry writing duties to hang with was Adam Kemp, Grand Fork's resident ornery Brit, a counter-culture community artist whose parting gift to me was a street sign he'd vandalized/improved, which now hangs in my room. And Adam, as it happened, has been working on an interactive exhibition space at Third Street Gallery, where he pinned two of my poems to a huge artwork designed to be co-created with the city (or 'defaced', to use his terminology).
Normally, each poem I write is seen by more than just the person I write for. About half of the poems I write are explicitly for and about other people, and lots of folks stop and don't get a poem but read what I've written for others. But, while it's hard to quantify how many people will see poems framed in houses or posted on fridges, on June 4th Adam's gallery boasted its 500th participant working on the collaborative mural.
And that's how, by making friends and drinking coffee and just art-ing in good company in a new city, I snuck my poetry into the lives of over 1% of the population of Grand Forks, North Dakota.
Special thanks to Jared Fladeland and Conduit Theatre for bringing me out, and I look forward to coming back!