The Poetry Machine

Welcome to the amazing Poetry Machine!

The project came from an idea I had as co-President of LUU Spoken Word Society. It was a unique interval filler and an engaging way to promote our vibrant community of poets.

This Autumn, I've been cranking up the Poetry Machine out in the big wide world. It works like this. People choose any word and present it to the Poetry Machine. Using my trusty vintage typewriter, I compose a personalised poem based on their word, on the spot. People pay what they feel the poem is worth. In the first few months, whilst I was building momentum, all of the donations I received went to the brilliant charity Challenges Worldwide.

You can find me at craft fairs, birthday parties, literature festivals and park benches, tapping away happily. Let's see the story unfold...

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'A Plague On These Machine-Age Poets!' Rowland Emett, Illustrated: Punch, 28 June 1950, p. 712

(with thanks to Chris Beetles' Gallery)

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The idea was sparked during a LUU Spoken Word meeting. I wanted to create an engaging, interactive tool to promote our vibrant community of poets.

Luckily, I had recently visited an exhibition of cartoonist and inventor Rowland Emett's Marvellous Machines at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. If you don't know Emett, he designed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's bizarre, fantastic mechanical props. Emett's witty cartoon 'A Plague On The Machine-Age Poets' really captured my imagination. It inspired the assembly of our very own Poetry Machine...

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My typewriter at the ready

The Poetry Machine was a lovely interval filler for Spoken Word Society's regular open mic night Word Of Mouth

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Simonp — 2 years ago

There is a really nice website run by the Roland Emett Society here: http://www.rowlandemett.com

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LUU Spoken Word Society at World Unite Festival

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Here's the Poetry Machine in action at World Unite Festival in Leeds. Words centred around themes of community, togetherness and the world around us. Some of the words were in different languages! We enjoyed tapping out the poems, seeing their recipients' wonder and smiles, and learning about the various cultures brought together in Leeds University Union. We surprised ourselves by creating quick, concise works of observation in just a few minutes. After all, when it comes to writing poetry, your first thought is often the best thought...

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The Poetry Machine generated poems, smiles and conversation...

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My fundraising Poetry Machine in action

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Inspired by the success of our Poetry Machine at this year's Spoken Word events, I decided to take the idea further. If you run a festival, community event or fair around Bristol or Leeds, get in touch! I would love to bring my Poetry Machine to you...

Whilst I'm getting the Poetry Machine started, I'm giving all the donations to Challenges Worldwide as part of the ICS Entrepreneur.

The following passages will spin the tale of my various adventures making poetry, putting on lyrical fundraisers, and swimming ridiculous distances in pursuit of my £800 target…

If you feel like supporting this venture, no matter how small the donation, you will receive a personalised poem through the post. Just leave your chosen word and address in the comment after donating. Otherwise, you can help by reading my story, spreading the word, and sending moral support to fuel my weird and wonderful ventures throughout the coming weeks!

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A poem for craft fair organiser Katherine Vowles, based on the word 'Lottery'

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Last weekend, the first chilly Saturday of Autumn, I set off my Poetry Machine fundraising antics by visiting my local village event: the East Harptree Craft and Flower Fair. I got to renew acquaintances with many people from my childhood, and together we raised almost £60 within the space of three hours.

Words ranged from 'armadillo' and 'elephant' to 'renewal' and 'lottery.' To my surprise and joy, some of the poems brought tears to their recipients' eyes; others caused spontaneous bursts of laughter! It was an honour to be creating poems at my community fair, the same event where I entered my first scraps of poetry and scribbles of artwork, many years ago. Surrounded by glorious sunflowers, potatoes in snug foursomes, and airy, frosted, tempting cakes, the sound of my typewriter added a nostalgic rhythm to the bustle and chatter of competitive villagers…

All in all, it was a heart-warming, inspiring afternoon. Now I am looking forward to cranking up my Poetry Machine during the Bristol Poetry Festival, taking place from the 18th Sep to the 8th Oct. I am so happy to have been invited to this incredible festival, and you should definitely come along and see some brilliant wordsmiths and performers. Hope to see you there.

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Kids at the craft fair were curious about the typewriter... They liked having a go at typing some letters!

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Here's a Poetry Machine poem I wrote for craft fair attendee Mick Underhill. He has kindly copied it and typed it over a snap of a tractor he discovered in the 'tractor graveyard' in Compton Martin coombe.

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The Poetry Machine spun out the next thread of its story at the Bristol Poetry Festival.

Within the cool whitewashed walls of Bristol's Arnolfini Gallery, I set up my snazzy new signs, typewriter and stamp. As the doors opened, I readied myself to absorb words thought up by dreamy poets and poetry lovers with rhymes on their minds and rhythm in their ears.

It was a welcome challenge generating stanzas in response to words like 'occidental' and 'potential' - them poetry types, eh..!

I had a brilliant time at the festival, tapping away throughout the intervals and during ticket tearing. Thank you to Colin Brown from PoetryCan for inviting me, and to everyone who rocked up to my stall to support a crazy stranger with an overworked typewriter and a happy donations jar...

When I wasn't tapping away, I had the honour of watching some competitive poets spin their wordy wares at the Bristol Poetry Festival Open Slam. The evening with Fiona Benson, Kei Miller and Liz Berry was a real highlight. I've posted a poem by Liz Berry below. I'm secretly hoping that her heartbreaking way with words will remind you of a word that means something to you. Some feeling, image, or sound that ties you to your home, to the past, or to someone you love.

If so, please send your word along to the Poetry Machine and see what happens...

What do you think of my new set-up, by the way? I'm very proud of my new logo, designed by the amazing Anna Lim in return for a donation to her ICS fund. Transferring the design onto a piece of wood to make my new sign was an interesting experience involving a very sticky iron and some (less poetic) words of my own...

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A breath stealing poem by Liz Berry based on a type of pigeon from the Black Country

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This week, I had a meeting with the lovely Danielle from Mr. B's Emporium of Delights. I grew up loving this independent gem of a bookshop, snug and bright in the heart of Bath. From cosy armchairs to thoughtful post-it notes from staff to help you choose a good read, the Mr. B's team really understands how book-lovers browse.

Turns out I'll be tapping away at their 'Books are my Bag' day next Thursday. I'll even have my own upstairs corner space and will be there all day, so come along for your official Poetry Machine stamped poem, typed for you whilst you browse.

Poetry Machine Post is also going very well. I'm tantalisingly close to my fundraising target halfway mark. So if you live afar and can't pop into Mr. B's on Thursday, then send me a word and some loose virtual coins. I'll transform them into rhymes and good karma. How exciting it'll be when you see the envelope holding your poem on the doormat!

And with Christmas coming up, how could you go wrong with a personalised poem delivered straight to your loved one's door?

Heartfelt thanks to everyone who has participated so far, whether in person or by post. Your support means the world to me.

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a poem based on the word 'swim', fresh through the word-giver's letterbox

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The Poetry Machine loves making poems for kids just as much as grown-ups!

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A Poetry Post poem based on the word 'joyful' (which is what I'll be when you donate to my JustGuving account below!)

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I hope you all had a lyrical National Poetry Day yesterday...

I picked blackberries, became very bruised from roller skating along the two tunnels cycle path, and drank cider with my friends watching lamplight dance on the Avon.

Good news! Everyone loves a bit more customisation. Here is a great online tool to help you use my Poetry Machine. You answer a couple of questions, including what your chosen word is, and there's a link to my PayPal.me link at the end. It's Pay As You Feel, so let's get creating!

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Mr. B's yesterday was fantastic! The guys in the bookshop team were supportive and welcoming. I was honoured to handle a myriad of beautiful words and memories throughout the Books Are My Bag day. There were lots of approving comments on the familiar, clattering sound of my typewriter, which tripped down the winding staircase and out onto the street, enticing passers-by into the shop.

Perhaps my favourite word was given by Naomi from Mr. B's. This was the word 'coracle'. It means a little boat originating mainly from Wales, but also based on a small Indian vessel. It transported me back to my childhood, when my brother, our two little friends and I made a 'coracle' out of sand on a beach in Pembrokeshire. We played all day, making ourselves believe we could sail away to distant lands awash with spices, scents, sounds and stories….

I also began a new way of making poems for multiple people; combining words together within the same one. I had to put some words together that made everyone laugh… like 'travel' and 'sausages'! As I was typing I felt these ideas beginning to play together quite happily. I asked whereabouts in Germany the couple had visited, and tapped them out an alternative love-song about a cute-meat in Berlin, eating sausages together on a bench.

A group of three gave me the words 'clay', 'curiosity' and 'outsider.' In type, I told them about the homeless, street-side late-night storytellers of Leeds who are the city's true laureates. In particular, I wrote about a poet who used to come to the kiln of our student open mic nights and mould our imaginations with his lyrical mastery.

I am pleased to tell you all that I raised enough money to take me over my fundraising halfway mark! I'm now looking to book a space at Christmas craft fairs, markets, events, parties… so get in touch and check out my new Facebook page (link below)…

Best wishes, and don't forget to use my new Poetry Machine online tool to shape your own, unique poem.

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To everyone who has supported or donated to my fundraising mission…

I'm writing to thank you all for your support over the last weeks. Your donations will mean so much to the young people taking part in the International Citizenship Service via Challenges Worldwide. It's a brilliant programme that empowers young entrepreneurs to share their skills worldwide and within their own communities.

Since I applied to the programme as a recent graduate, my life has changed a lot. A main aim of the ICS programme is to help unemployed young people. I now have two rewarding and inspiring creative roles. As part of the fundraising process, I've set up my Poetry Machine, and I'm excited about taking it forward. So my involvement in the ICS has been a massive success. It's really helped me to channel my creative spark into something beneficial.

From now onwards, I'm going to be spending a lot more time working on and developing the Poetry Machine. It will be on a Pay As You Feel basis, because I believe everyone should have access to poetry. I also welcome ideas, help and suggestions to get this new venture up and running.

I've already received a big order for personalised Christmas gifts, which is really encouraging! If you hear of any upcoming fairs or events that are looking for something a bit different, please pass on my details or let me know on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/Poetry-Machine-1640213726267795/

…watch this space…

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Wintery evenings are perfect for snuggling up by the fire or going for long crisp clear muddy walks…

…and reading poetry!

Have you got a Secret Santa gift to sort out? How about a personalised poem based on a word or topic you know means something to your secret gift victim. The poem could be funny, sweet, encouraging, or admiring: you name it!

Or do you know of a Christmas party, gathering or craft fair happening soon? How about suggesting the Poetry Machine as a unique entertainment feature. The tap-tap-tap of my typewriter could add a lovely rhythm to the occasion. And instant, tailored poems for your guests to take home.

Check out my brand new Instagram account at https://www.instagram.com/poetrymachine/ to see recent poems sent via Poetry Machine post. I'll leave you with my all-time, timeless favourite festive poem...

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