Lexington writer creates on-the-spot poetry and gives it away for free
Twice a month a Lexington man sits at the corner of the old courthouse on Main Street. He brings joy and hope to local residents through his unusual delivery of poetry.
Curtis Kaiser makes poetry on demand.
It’s a pleasant autumn evening in downtown Lexington where lots of people are out and about.
At the corner of Main Street in front of the Old Court House and across from the 5/3rd Pavilion sits 31-year-old Curt Kaiser. The mechanical engineer is at a tiny makeshift desk and is writing original poems on his 1961 typewriter for random passers-by, and it’s free. He’s not exactly sure what influenced him.
“It’s just kind of like, I have typewriters, I can think and write. Why don’t I just go out and do it for people? See if it makes anybody happy, “ said Kaiser.
In less than an hour, more than 10 people line up in front of Kaiser’s homemade poster board sign that simply reads ‘Poems 4 free’. They all wait patiently in hopes of getting a personalized piece of poetry. Kaiser feels no pressure.
“There’s zero hate for this. Like nobody is like, poems, I hate poems. It’s been cool,” explained Kaiser.
One of the first people in line is 23-year-old Secret Oliver.
Oliver asks for a poem and stands by, watching Kaiser go to work typing. In just a few minutes, Kaiser creates a poem just for Oliver on a small piece of white paper. He titles it ‘Showing out and going out’. Oliver excitedly reads the poem.
“Showing out and going out, I’m out here feeling good. Nothing jamming me up. The vibes the scene and even the fine food. Out here flying solo and feeling my greatest. Nothing can bring me down. And out here wandering about downtown," reads Oliver.
On this Saturday night, the poems have included topics ranging from serious loss to a request for a blessing.
The line is growing. Frequently the recipients of Kaiser’s poems try to tip him but he declines. Everyone gives a different reason for wanting a poem from this man they don’t even know. Madison Wheatley, Atianna Berryman, Andrew Marcum, and Brianna Brevik are touched by the kindness of the Main Street poet, Curt Kaiser.
“So, I’ve actually seen these before online, other people doing the poems for free in other big cities, so, I was actually really excited to see that we have one here in Lexington," said Wheatley.
“I just think it’s a genuine gesture and he just seems like a really great guy and to do something like this on a nice Saturday evening, it’s lovely,” said Berryman.
” It’s just nice to see people doing stuff like this. You don’t see it very often. It’s out of the ordinary and out of no cost and everything is for profit these days,” said Marcum.
“I think it’s a beautiful expression of art. It can brighten someone’s mood very quickly,” said Brevik.
Photographer Femi Oyeniran said he saw Kaiser writing free poetry and asked for a poem about balance.
Okay, the title is ‘Shifting Balance’. Always a careful act it is to place the hands and feet from shifting sands to steady hands to earth moving underneath. It’s never easy but always needed. And ongoing opponents to whom I have never conceded,” read Oyeniran.
Oyeniran liked the poem. “It’s awesome. It’s awesome. I love it. It kind of really encapsulates exactly what’s in my state of mind right now. Never going to concede, I like that part," said Oyeniran.
Lots of laughter and connection happens in the line of people waiting for poems. Samantha Walsh is from Pittsburgh.
Walsh said there were a few reasons she stopped for a poem.
“Free and there’s not many things that are free in life. And poems. I don’t know. It is kind of cool. I gotta see it,” said Walsh.
Kaiser asks Walsh the questions he asks everyone, So what’s the topic? What are we you feeling?”asked Kaiser.
Walsh asked Kaiser for a poem about her girls Eve and Willow. They are her daughters.
Kaiser asks Walsh a few questions about her 6-year-old twins and thoughtfully types out a poem. Samantha Walsh finishes reading the last few lines and tears up.
“Our love for them is limitless and they’ll know that day to day. They’re my little girls, special in their own little way.” Aw, That’s so cute. I’m going to cry. Thank you,” said Walsh.
Later in the evening, a young couple from South Carolina requests poetry that is a blessing for their 8-month-old son. Carina and Logan Milford said receiving the hand -crafted poetry made this visit to Lexington memorable.
Logan reads the poem written by Kaiser for them. “Father, Bless our little Cooper now that he is with us. Our boy our love, our little ray of sun. Eight months in and your shepherding shows, we know you’ll be with him wherever he goes. We too will be there caring and loving each day. We trust in you because we know the way. In your precious name. Amen,”read Logan.
Logan called the poem awesome and said he would frame it.
Carina told Kaiser he had a gift The couple was visibly moved by the poem.
Curt Kaiser hopes to continue lifting spirits and helping people smile. His goal is to show up at the corner of the Old Court House in Lexington twice a month. The way to find him, he said, is to listen for the distinctive sound of the typewriter.
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