Book Excerpts Taken from People on the Subway: Vol. 2


I take the L to work from Brooklyn to Manhattan every day. Unless it’s a holiday, I’m packed shoulder-to-shoulder, butt-to-butt, chest-to-chest with a ton of other people.

So what do I do? I look at what other people are looking at on their phones/Kindles. Sometimes I read along and type the words on their screen into my phone as fast as I can. Since people read faster than I can type with one hand, the transcripts are incomplete. I take those excerpts and remix them into a single narrative poem.

This is the second part of my series. The first part is here.

Member of the original foundation

This is really awkward, I began.
So far, he had not really thought about where he was.

Lettering on the airplane crates
Eddie recognized
Feeling strange on his lips

With respect to
Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo
Unfortunately, the snow became deeper and deeper, and Harry was just about to transform
What kind of animal would be of use?

You find wild boar
“I like to use that”

Theme song?

Avil Lavigne says,
Hardcover pages, the year
Painted dodgers
This is not your
Nephew, Robert Lavigne knew
Safety procedures being of third mates.

Image courtesy Flickr/David Nitzsche. Used under Creative Commons. 

Poems from newspaper clippings that don’t suck.

Austin Kleon art from newspaper

From Austin Kleon.

Austin, if you’re reading this, hi. I saw you in 2012 at the Penn Bookstore. Glad you enjoyed your falafel from Mamas. That is the city’s best. Now that I think of it, I may have made you a list of things to do and given it to you after the lecture. I made it during your lecture. Sorry if that is rude. I think you said you were leaving town right after the lecture, but that you would save it for next time.

I hope you weren’t just being polite.

Via {Christopher Wink/Twitter}.

Corita Kent, Why “Long/ Live/ the…” and More

eleven east cafe glassboro NJ

My first year as an undergrad was spent at a college in Glassboro, a medium-sized suburban New Jersey town. A city boy at heart, my new friends and I spent most of our time in the town’s sole independent coffee shop and book store: eleven east café and evergreen books, respectively.

It was in that bookstore that I found this:


A book of poetry, sort of—written by playwright Joseph Pintauro and illustrated by sister Corita Kent. It was full of that trademark 1970s whimsy and innocence. One of the poetic devices used in the book is the repetition of “Long live the…”

Long Live the Thing by Joseph Pintauro and Sister Corita Kent

Long Live the Thing by Joseph Pintauro and Sister Corita Kent

The book is a celebration of life. It documents simple joys and observations:

Long live chickens
who run free
who lay their eggs
in dark
places around
the world where no man

This book seemed (and still seems) like a magic secret gift that random chance and serendipity gave to me. It spoke to me in a deep way when I first found them over ten years ago; it found me at the right moment in my life. It also speaks to why independent book stores remain so important, even though evergreen books shut down long ago. There are some experiences for which you cannot search.

I think this quotation from a 2012 PBS interview with art historian Kathryn Wat neatly summarizes the allure of Corita’s work, and it applies to her collaboration with Mr. Pintauro, too:

We feel that we’re living in dark times. And we look at this work and we see someone who was creating super-cool art, that’s very hip, but that is filled with a sincere spirit. And I think that’s appealing to all of us.

And now there’s a traveling exhibition featuring the work of Corita Kent {npr}. It opens at the Warhol museum at the end of this month.

Twitter Poetry

This is super cool:

Pentametron — which you can follow at @pentametron — watches all the public tweets created in a day. “It picks out the ones that happen to be in iambic pentameter,” says Ranjit Bhatnagar, an artist and the inventor of the program. “When it finds some of those, it looks for a pair that rhyme, and then it tweets out a couplet.”

Here’s one of my favorites:


Read more: Pentametron Reveals Unintended Poetry of Twitter Users {npr}.

See also: Google Poetics.