Friday, June 28, 2024


This was the second year of QWERTYFEST in Milwaukee, and organizers Tea Krulos and Molly Snyder plan to create a tradition. Timed to coincide with Typewriter Day (June 23) and located in the city where Christopher Latham Sholes invented QWERTY, the fest was a three-day celebration of typewriter culture and a reminder of how fun these devices and the people who love them can be. The schedule included parties, performances, contests, talks, hangouts, and other activities. Here are a few highlights.

The first night's events were held in Turner Hall in downtown Milwaukee. Founded by German immigrants in the mid-nineteenth century, the Turners are into healthy exercise with a healthy dose of beer. The hall is a capacious and historic space.

Attendees and vendors showed up with all sorts of typewriter-themed creations.

The audience assembled for the evening's show ...

There was a two-minute typing competition in which Jon Boyd won the coveted Quick Brown Fox trophy. (I came in second with my Optima Humber 99.)

Wendy Markus played the typewriters, with an accompaniment of other percussion instruments, in a performance titled Measures of Escapement.

The Clackathon was an uncategorizable event —a funny play created by Anja Notanja Sieger, aka La Prosette, in which various outlandish characters had to improvise poems on topics suggested by QWERTYFEST attendees.

The Boston Typewriter Orchestra played a dynamic set that inspired some dancing.

The BTO kindly posed with me and let me try their "guitar."

Saturday featured talks and workshops at the Charles Allis Art Museum

Tea Krulos told us about Wisconsin's close connection to Lovecraft booster August Derleth, Dungeons & Dragons, and Tolkien.

I gave a talk titled "Revolution Forever" that sketched the developments in the typosphere since I wrote The Typewriter Revolution ten years ago, and made the case that typewriters are no fad. They are destined to form part of the resistance to the über-digitization of everything that shows no sign of stopping. 
A PDF of my presentation, sans my commentary, can be found here (give the PDF a little time to load).

On Saturday evening, Carolyn Wynnack of The Whisky Type welcomed us to a party at Great Lakes Distillery.

There was spontaneous poetry ...

... Carolyn's Facit invited us to write ...

... and Vox Starling took the stage, playing enticing, hypnotic rock that lent itself to meditative typing.

From another attendee:

Bob Marshall of Typewriter Muse:

I had to hit the road before the last few events. But I look forward to returning, seeing new and old friends, and having more fun at QWERTYFEST MKE 2025!

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

A visit to Typewriter Chicago

Typewriter Chicago is the brainchild of Lucas Dul, and the second new typewriter shop I've had the opportunity to visit this summer (after TB Writers Plus). Lucas just recently secured a brick-and-mortar location after operating from his home for several years. It should soon be open during regular hours.

I got to stop by on my way to Milwaukee for QWERTYFEST MKE. I've known Lucas online for a while, and my Loose Dog Press published his brilliant book on the Williams last year. But this was our first chance to meet in person.

Lucas at the workbench. He is meticulous about disassembling and thoroughly reviewing machines.

The atmosphere in the front-facing area of the shop is very neat ...

... but in the back, it wouldn't be a typewriter shop without some "chaos" that the proprietor understands very well!

The multitalented Lucas created this lovely stained-glass window.

I know: WD-40! Lucas uses it only for exterior cleaning. In Milwaukee I discussed WD-40 with Bob Marshall of Typewriter Muse, whose view is that the use of this product as a lubricant may or may not be appropriate, based on the environment. In a dusty area, dust may stick to WD-40 and create a problem.

Some less common typewriters on Lucas' shelves include an Oliver ...

... and a very nice early Demountable.

I trust this will be the beginning of a long and successful career in typewriter repair for this young technician. At the moment, he has a waitlist of 79 machines awaiting his attention, but if you want to get on his list or visit the shop, here's his contact information.

Lucas Dul
Typewriter Chicago
1525 Ogden Ave. Unit L, Downers Grove, IL 60515 

Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Silver Surfer and The Belle of the Insurgency at Sayler Park

Sayler Park is Cincinnati's westernmost neighborhood, a narrow strip along the Ohio River with lots of history and noble trees. The producer of Sayler Park Sustains, a yearly festival emphasizing ecology, read my recent blog post about Free Thoughts and invited me to participate.

I brought two eye-catching typewriters: The Silver Surfer (Hermes 3000) and The Belle of the Insurgency (Optima). I also invited two local poets, recent MFA Matt Farley and Art Academy of Cincinnati professor Matt Hart.

The machines and Matt Farley:

The Matts listen to a festival goer:

I wrote a few poems—no masterpieces, but they fit people's current moods and needs, and that's the main thing. Here are some.

This one was for Jen, who invited me to the festival. It brought a few tears, so I consider it a success.

Here are two different responses, from me and Matt Farley, to the very sustainable theme of "compost."

I should have said "The world has no offramp."

Matt Hart has a gift for surreal imagery:

But the main thing we did was not write poems. There were plenty of kids at the festival …

... and the human kids wanted to type. We gave them that chance.

This serious young man spent about half an hour creating his piece of literature:

Hey, whatever gets kids to focus on a typewriter ...

A good friend is teaching a high-school class on analog writing next year. He describes an exchange with a student:

She said, "I want to get a typewriter. I need to learn how to use one." I said, "Well, the first part of our class will be about how to handle a typewriter." She said, "Good! I think it will be important for the future."

Yes, it will.