Decatur Book Festival, August 30-31, 2014

by Jimmy on September 3, 2014

Another year, another book festival. This year we set up our table in a new location: outside of the Art Institute of Atlanta. Thanks to them and Eyedrum, we were able to get a space in DBF as part of eXperimental Writers Asylum. Also thanks to Wonderroot for providing the tent. Aside: we now have an Instagram account, so please follow us there for instant-er photos in the future.

Day one: nice day, poets who came out included me, Jon, Zac, Allison and Ping Pong. New free-poet Shyla also joined us, though she wouldn’t let us photograph any of her poems! I don’t blame her, photography steals the soul, right? The demand was INSANE. We had to close our doors an hour early, at 3pm, so that we could catch up. Alas, many of the poems we wrote were not picked up (41). The weather held out and it rained about half an hour after we packed up.

Day two: hot and humid! Poets who came out included me, Michael, Zac, Jon, Robin, Eftenbad, and new free-poet Sipai. Demand continues to be insane. We did our best, but didn’t have time to take photos of all our poems, unfortunately. About 20 unclaimed poems from day two. Here is some photographic documentation:

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We’re On Instagram! + DBF

by Jimmy on September 1, 2014

follow us on Instagram freepoemsatlThe Decatur Book Festival this past weekend was a blast and we wrote hundreds of poems (thanks to eXperimental Writers Asylum, Eyedrum, Art Institute of Atlanta, and Wonderroot). While you’re waiting for us to write a full report and post pictures of those poems on this-here-blog (which we will, bear with us), we’ve already posted several on our new Instagram account @freepoemsatl!  We’ll still be posting here, but Instagram will satisfy your need for speed. We plan to post poems on Instagram ASAW (as soon as written).


At the Annie E. Casey Foundation Atlanta Civic Site, 2-6 pm.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation, Atlanta Civic Site is hosting and collaborating with local communities, residents, partners and corporate sponsors to create an exciting and memorable “Art of Community” experience on the Casey Foundation.


352 University Ave.
Atlanta, GA, 30310


Free Poems in Flux & More

by Jimmy on April 6, 2014

We will be performing THROUGHOUT APRIL thanks to Flux Projects and their McTell Street Project. Come see us every Thursday in April at the corner of 12th Street and Peachtree (among the food trucks… yum!). Here are the times

  • April 3, noon-1pm
  • April 10, 1:30pm-2:30pm
  • April 17, 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • April 24th, noon-1pm

Other artists will also be performing every Thursday in April.

That’s not all. On April 20, 2-6pm, we’ll be writing free poems at Atlanta Streets Alive. If you’ve never been before, you should definitely come check it out. They shut a big street down for pedestrians and bicyclists to take it over for several hours. They’ve done Peachtree, Highland, and Edgewood before. This time they’ll shut down some streets on the West Side. Go to their webpage for all the details. We’re not sure where we’ll camp out yet, but walk around and you’ll probably find us.


Atlanta Streets Alive will actually be in the West END, not the West Side. We now have more details. Free Poems on Demand will be setting up on Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, between Peeple St and Lawton St.

UPDATE #2 (4/16):

We will also be writing free poems at the Living Walls + Boulevard Tunnel Initiative Project on Saturday, April 19 from noon to 4pm at 180 Carroll Street in Cabbagetown. There will be other festivities including a farmers market and tour of walls.


Poems on the move! (MARTA, December 30)

by Jimmy on January 1, 2014

I love doing Free Poems, but it’s been a while since I’ve felt that rush of adrenaline that I experienced the very first time we did it 3 years ago. Part of that adrenaline rush came from the pressure of writing in front of an audience, as well as writing in very little time. And part of it had to do with putting ourselves out there, to staring eyes, not caring what people thought. But these days, it’s a little different. People who usually go out to festivals have heard about us, and we’re doing it at bigger events. And with practice, we’ve gotten really good at meeting those short deadlines.

So when we did Free Poems on MARTA this past Monday (our first time), it was a way of putting ourselves out there again. Raising the stakes, if you will. And also a way of connecting with our original intended audience–i.e. just regular old folks (though we love the festival-goer demographic too). I never thought I would be the guy who walks into a train and starts yelling “Hello Ladies and Gentlemen…” and it was a little terrifying at first. But I was surprised how quickly it became second nature and actually quite liberating.

Jon and I started at the Five Points station around rush hour (the entire event lasted from 4pm to 6:30pm). We picked a spot on the North platform near the bottom of the escalator, so that people could see us as they were coming down. But it was disconcerting how many people DIDN’T see us–they just looked past us in a blank stare… ah, that just-got-off-work zombie look. I know it well.

At a certain point we took the South train almost to the airport, changing cars at every stop to find new demanders. Though some people didn’t want anything to do with us, many others warmed up to us quickly. Some thanked us profusely, and it was nice to see their faces light up to the idea. I think doing it on the train adds that extra element of surprise, because most people do not expect anything like this on their regular old boring commute.

We then rode North to Lindberg and then back South to Five Points, writing poems the whole time. Some of the topics were strangely synchronistic–we got two different requests for the topic “Pink” back to back, from completely different individuals, and it wasn’t until we compared notes later that we realized this. Also, we had two different requests for “Jesus”. It’s no surprise that we got probably 10+ requests for “Love” and a few for “Freedom”–these are common topics. But “Jesus” and “Pink” are not that common, and to get them back to back from different people certainly qualified as “something in the air”.

These photos are pretty bad. The lighting was not ideal. And many of the poems didn’t get their pictures taken because the demanders were running off to catch their next train. So these are only a few traces of our adventure. Happy New Year! May 2014 be full of free poems.


Atlanta Streets Alive is one of our favorite events, and this time they closed down an entire loop from Highland to Virginia to Monroe/Boulevard and back to Highland. We were camped out on Virginia Ave, a couple blocks west of Highland. Participating poets were: Jon Ciliberto, Zac Denton, Nisa Asokan, Sherri Caudell and myself. Among the pleasant surprises: our friend Thomas came by and sketched/painted us. A block down from us, a group of friendly folks were giving out Free Advice! And some regular FPOD customers came back for more poems. One kid in particular said he wanted to collect the complete set (he already had poems by me, Jon, and Zac, so this time he got one by Nisa).


We set up around Woodruff Park this time. The weather was perfect, and the demanders were demanding. The free poets for the day were Jon Ciliberto, Robin Bernat and myself (Jimmy Lo). The photo above was taken by John Christopher Matyjasik.


We were asked to participate in the Atlanta Summer Beer Festival. What could be better than writing free poems and drinking free beer on a summer day? In attendance were the two Nicks (one of Eftenbad shame), Nisa, Priscilla, and yours truly. Priscilla even brought a typewriter! Below you will see a document of our progressive drunkenness as played out in worsening metaphors:


Atlanta Streets Alive, May 19, 2013

by Jimmy on May 21, 2013

All the forecasts said rain! thunderstorm! flash-flood! I bought 5 emergency ponchos so the poets won’t get wet, but just as 2pm rolled around, the rain stopped and an hour later the sun even came out! It was a miracle. We wrote under the awning of the fabulous Fox. At first many were scared away by the prospect of wetness, but soon the throngs showed up and walked proud with their heads held high down the middle of Peachtree Street. Joining me were Jon, Zac, and Nick. We wrote on subjects as diverse as “popcorn and statistics”, “woolly mammoths”, “conflict between nanotechnology and globalization”, “flatulence”, and “bagel unicorn” (just to name a few). See the photos below to read the full poems.

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We wrote free poems for the Hambidge Center Auction, as we’ve done before. The many artists, musicians, arts administrators and supporters of the arts in attendance was highly receptive to and excited about what we do.

I am a Hambidge fellow and free poet Jimmy Lo has a fellowship in August. Please consider supporting Hambidge

Zac Denton, Nick Charis and I wrote poems from 6 until 10 pm, with near ceaseless demand. See the photos, and following them, (because we had so many requests) some poems that we had to email some to people after the event.

topic: sister (by Nick)

not necessarily a sibling. someone close. or at least of the same spirit. a person influencing your own person-hood. countable. dependable. and reliable. able at least to be there. or in the room without being really in the room.

or not – a rival zygote. trouble for you. not chosen but forced into your world. with problems and cantankerous scratchings.

if only all sisters could be sisters.

topic: 3 dogs, small medium large (by Nick)

troika of the canine breed. snapping at each other in mangy tumult. though smarmy for snacks and slobbering with panting excitement. three standard sizes show the range of growth. sharing a common ancestor the wolf. and always eager to wolf down. bone toys and random tchotchkes or gummy gewgaws into shreds. wet and growling at who-knows-what with furled brows. or flying with fluffy glee into long-missed welcoming arms, legs and freely hanging appendages unknowingly vulnerable. for heartfelt snarled wrangling and hungry gruntled sniffing.

Road not taken (by Robin)

Sometimes, driving in my
car, I arrive at my destination
with hardly a memory of the
journey: Habits, routines
imprinted thusly. It’s a bad
way, I’d say, to be.The auto-
pilot, the sleepwalk are not
the same as the daydream,
or the wanderlust of youth.
“You must change your life.”

Bird dog (by Robin)

Floppy-eared, pink-tongued,
muddy-pawed: you are my
delight. I like to see best
bounding forth from under
brush soaked in rain and
sweat, your soft-sided mouth
clasps so gently one small
dove, its feathers hardly marred.

Garfield (by Robin)

Some cats have all the
answers; you are one smarty-
pants: plump perfection.

Guinea Up! (by Jimmy)

A rot of a guinea in new
spandex is so winning
all the kids are like ‘Gimme!’

but such things are earned
like a spot in Guiness’s book
that out of a crowded many

the world can hear more distinct
sounds with a flap of ear, or two beads
for eyes that dart around

a blur–a bur in my new brown coat
doubles as a pet of my palm.
Here, have this food or fowl, a stalk

of something, whatever do you eat?
Corn on cob, or cream of wheat?

Doggerel (by Jimmy)

A treat to teach a new trick of the trade-
shows to snuff and snout, that, up crotches
climb like vines can, crotchety-like, with wag
of tail accompanying sit or stay, bang-bang

you’re dead, roll over and shake my hand–
in January you take a poop in the CVS bag
I use as a handwarmer on the way back
(the dirty little secrets that live up

to the shame in my eyes: I’m just like a dog —
always reverting to that undomesticated pup
stretching for the droop of teat, yawn
and yelp for the closest leg to hump)!

28 Days L8R (by Jimmy)

Not even the shortest month
ravaged with ravishing plans
is short enough for the conjugal goal
Tho it might not be for the honor
of being christened christlike
on the nuptial bedsheets that appeals
but one where the daily load of dishes
becomes a relief from the backdrop
of planning out the color of table cloths
for all the aunts who never RSVP’d.
Ah the vows, the garter, the bouquet!
Toss it here, I’d like to be done with it too
in fewer words and fewer days than 28,
the bride & I’d be miles and miles away…

Dog Days (by Jimmy)

Pros and cons are for amateurs, not pros
who always know to never dabble in dog-like
devotion or to commit to a thing as a puppy,
puppy-love, or the pet peeves that come

from inevitability, familiarity, and a few
other ditties. At least the boyfriend’s trained
(minimally) with respect to the potty, tho’
his mouth is another matter… but sometimes

matter over mind is the way to go, at least
the objections forthwith are immaterial.
My brand of logic takes circuitous routes
around the block with a poodle in a puddle

and leashed to the least thing–a woman
never forgets and never let’s go.

“adolescent werewolves” (by Zac)

just like you or me, they’re only younger
wilder, and freer, those bearded babies
so hither and yonder thru the night;
though daytime finds them at the mall,
in twilight will they make a racket,
such cursed creatures great or small
it’s all one can do, a silver bullet to pack it,
but just like ol’ Teen Wolf himself,
these folks have skills, OMG, LOL,
their texting skills the elves surpass,
and no one pities a gangly lion
but younguns, so beast-like rendered,
still must for a hall pass ask

“today and tomorrow” (by Zac)

time, like twine,
forever fraying at the
edges, so incomplete
and fashioned for the
spending, tomorrow beginning, today
ending, but ne’er halts
a moment, when intention’s
shoulder turned, impermanence
wherefrom yearned

“random encounters” (by Jon)

Every instant a billiard ball
collision vectoring in clear, re-
lentless math, while a fraction-
ally miniscule unknown spins
off as quantum of never-known.

The ever-present glittering hall
of awareness, clutched dearly
to body to still it, makes action
a play we write as time begins
ticking off in repetition, full-grown

monotony, each to each. Head tall
computers even there see
no end to order: time’s impact on
a circle’s span to edge length hints
not at a bird at rest, but long flown.