Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Poem of the day: Coronavirus

It's National Poetry Month, and as I did in 2018 and 2016, I'm going to try to type some poetry every day.

I'm taking extra inspiration from Brian Sonia-Wallace's forthcoming book The Poetry of Strangers. I got to read an advance copy, and I loved his stories. I'll be telling you more about this book in due course.

My plan for this month is to write poems on topics of your choice. I don't get to pick and choose—I have to type a poem on every topic that you propose in the comments below. My poems on your topics will be posted on the next day. (I'll also post links to these posts on Facebook, and if I get topics in comments there, I may also write on them—but the blog has priority.) If I get no suggestions, I'll open a dictionary at random and pick a word.

The poems will be typewritten (of course), on a variety of machines, and there will be no revising. In true street-poet style, once the words are on the paper, they will stay there.

To kick things off, I've written a poem on the obvious topic.

Downtown Cincinnati, March 28, 2020:

What else would you like me to write about?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Thank you, Internet

Much as I may grumble about our normal relationship with digital technology, at this abnormal time, the Internet is crucial for me to do my job (teaching online), get information, and stay in touch with friends and family. The typosphere is confronting the pandemic with ingenious combinations of typewriting and online communication.

For instance, in Baltimore, Sefu C. posted on Instagram, offering to write to new pen pals:

If you want a letter, I’ve got time & stamps & so much to say to you. 

In L.A., Garrett L. created the hashtag #covid19correspondence, commenting:

Write a letter to someone who’s sequestered or isolated. Give them a tangible reminder that there’s a real world out there, where they’re being thought of, and ask them to do the same. The physicality of real correspondence may be the most tactile contact some people have.

Sean B., in Calgary, retyped some thoughts by fellow typewriter lover Gabriella M., in Vermont:

Meanwhile, Hannah R. posted a wonderful selection of her collages, which incorporate typewritten words. You can order them through Instagram; you get 5 for just $20.

Maybe you'd like to type up a page and submit it to Daniel M.'s new project, One Typed Page — or just visit and see what's on the minds of some fellow typists.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Fox no. 23 typewriter (1908)

I dug out my 1908 Fox no. 23. Why? Because I needed a dose of pure pleasure. Don't we all?

There are many beautiful typewriters, but there's none in my collection lovelier than this one. It's a great Art Nouveau design to begin with, and this one is in outstanding condition.

I bought this typewriter on eBay maybe 20 years ago. It came with a base and cover, and as I recall, there was plenty of fluff and dust in the typewriter, but it basically blew away, and underneath, there was an almost perfectly preserved machine, with great paint, decals, and nickel. I had the platen redone by Ames.

What's it like to type on? It features an easy basket shift and snappy action. There is a switch in the back that allows you to adjust when the escapement will trip; I find that if I put it on one setting (I think it's supposed to be the speedy setting), I tend to get shadowing. The button on the left front corner of the frame is for the tabulator (this is a weak point in the frame, and is often broken). The main disadvantage of this typewriter is that it has no backspacer. But with a little care and practice, I think I could get used to it.

Now to type some letters ...

PS: Want to know more about Foxes? Read Tyler Anderson's The Fox Typewriter Company, available for free download by courtesy of the author.