Monday, August 12, 2013


A few days ago, I read an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times about a woman named Jacqueline Suskin who sits at a tiny table at fairs and farmers markets up and down the West Coast. She types on-the-spot, improvisational poetry (on her vintage green typewriter, no less!) while you wait. Oh, and you get to name the price you pay her.

I find that fascinating...

© The Poem Store/Jacqueline Suskin
Now I haven't seen Ms. Suskin in action (though there are videos on YouTube of her here and here and herenor have I met her, but I did look her up on the big wide internet and found she is a bit of a phenom. Her website,, showcases some of her work; her blog let's you know where she's been and where she's headed.

Her Twitter Feed is in its infancy (though I suspect that may not be the case for long). Take a look, check her out. Gotta love a woman dedicated to her passion and her truth! (Edited to add: She now has a video too!) 

That got me thinking about my own passion and truth.

There was a time a decade ago when I was writing like a banshee, filling journals with long-hand poems that seemed to materialize out of thin air. I wrote the way Jacqueline writes: off the cuff and on the fly. I allowed the words to flow from mind to pen without thinking.

When I was done, I would re-read it and be amazed,  as I never recognized the words I wrote. Which was kind of bizarre to me, so I never told anyone about my "gift" — except my boyfriend. 

I wrote a lot during the year we dated long distance. At one point, he was deciding whether to invest in a business (and life-long dream) in his hometown... or change his life entirely by securing a job in my city and giving our relationship a chance to blossom (or wither). 

During a visit that fall, we took a drive to the beach and I took out my notepad and pen, then closed my eyes (I write best in the dark, though it is admittedly hard to keep my sentences legible on the page; they run into one another). When we got home, I typed what I wrote him into my computer and emailed it to him. Here's some of what I sent:

Listen close
The voice that bears
The words you cannot hear;
Be true to him, be true to her
Be true to self, not fear

Stay Playful.
We live inside a shell,
That surrounds the box of adulthood,
with sides so iron-clad.
Yet it is we who
build these walls,
so thick and formidable,
sometimes forgetting
as we build
to allow space,
sacred space,
for the tethered rope of childhood.

POSTSCRIPT Upon reflection (thanks in part to my "advice"), he bought a business in his hometown and we broke up. He married his ex-girlfriend. They are now the parents of two children. And nope, I never saw that one coming.

Time to dust off some of other old writings from my pre-cancer era. Stay tuned!


  1. This is beautiful and meaningful poetry Renn, I too used to write poetry when I was younger... before I actually cared what other people thought of it...

    It took me almost 25 years to write another piece of poetry and I have written a couple since then... I think it is time for me to let it out again... I love it best when it just flows out of me or anyone else for that matter:)

    1. Oh, I understand the younger, self-critical voice! But now that I'm older (and especially after dealing with cancer), I don't care! (Yay, freedom)

      I encourage you to write more poetry!

  2. Wonderful, Renn. It's so good to read your writing. Isn't it amazing what pours out from some higher place in our minds? Poetry isn't my forte, but I was once walking along the coast in Stives, Cornwall - and it just kept bubbling up! When you gotta write, you gotta write.

    I look forward to reading more. ~Catherine

    1. Catherine, I'm not sure I know what my forte is, I just know I gotta keep writing! ;-)

  3. Hmmmm.... I once sat on the ground on Frenchman street and talked as an attractive women typed. and then a cockroach ran up my pants. not a great ending to the story.

    so glad you're writing! tapping into the creative energy if very rewarding!!! . xoxo

    1. Shannnnnnnnon! You never cease to make me smile.

      Keep writing, my dear. I look forward to many more words from you!


  4. Gosh, Renn, I'm in awe. This is fabulous. I've never really tried writing poetry... I will most definitely stay tuned!


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