Poetry at the Farmers’ Market

“A poem is the record of a discovery, either the discovery of something in the world, or within one’s self, or perhaps the discovery of something through the juxtaposition of sounds and sense within our language. Our job as poets is to set down the record of those discoveries in such a way that our readers will make the discoveries theirs and will delight in them.” – Former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser

Farmers’ Market

What I love about Kooser’s quote is the concept of discovery. Whose discovery? Is it that of the poet, recording the details in a manner to delight or is that of the reader, discovering the poem and becoming delighted? Let’s assume it is both.

Natalie Goldberg suggests that young writers plant themselves in public and generate poems upon demand. This requires a certain poetic confidence that I don’t possess. Hence my admiration for Billy Marie at Typewriter Poetry where she churns out turns of phrase on her retro machine on sidewalks and at festivals.

One early morning at the market, I had my own poetic discovery; typewriter planted firmly in his lap and a small sign requesting donations.

Typewriter Poetry at the Market

Typewriter Poetry at the Market

As you can see from this link, Zach is another well known street poet. He sets up his chair on a street or at a market and, there, he has The Poem Store. I was fortunate to run into him and as you can see above, he caught the spirit of Agrigirl – food and community and built it into poetry.

With or without a street poet, the Farmers’ Market becomes a laboratory of the humanities. According to the internationally known environmental psychologist, Robert Sommer, people who shop at farmers markets have four-and-a-half times more social interactions per visit than they would have per visit to a grocery store. Other evidence from  John Cacioppo, a neuroscientist at the University of Chicago and coauthor of Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection shares that individuals with more social interactions are healthier.

Dare we connect them? Recall that during a heat wave, individuals with more social interactions, contrived mainly because of the proximity to small merchants, had a stronger chance of survival. In fact, Cacioppo tells us that we should all play with the idea of trying to get small doses of good social interactions daily. Just calling out to someone, “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” or “I loved that poem!” can bring a friendly response that makes us feel better and consequently, healthier.

Zen Remembrance
written by David Griswold, author of Farmer’s Market Sonnets
borrowed from the Kitchn

We walk though life, and seldom meet another
With whom we share a selfsame thought or tone.
And yet in you, there resonates the other;
A half unheard for years, the sound of bone

That hides behind the bolder sounds of blood
The beating drum by which we mark our days
Together once again we sing of God
In each flat step, in every common phrase.

This is true Zen: two friends who walk together
And give each other cause to listen close,
As well as means to satisfy the whether,
To dwell within in satisfied repose.

We’ll meet and meet again, in each a bell
Ringing, remembered — none but both can tell.

It’s National Poetry Month. Celebrate Poetry.

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46 Comments

  1. Fabulous! Love poetry! Love Farmer’s Markets! Love your blog! And here it all comes together – most excellent!

    Reply
    • Thank you Diane. I love the notion of infusing poetry into unexpected places. Where else would it be fun to see a poet?

      Reply
  2. Wonderful ideas just leaping off the page! This arrived at a perfect moment. (How DID you know?!) More on that later.

    Reply
    • I think poetry goes with your beautiful art perfectly. Can’t wait to see what you are thinking.

      Reply
  3. It’s true that shopping at a farmers market involves far more interaction and connection than shopping at a supermarket. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I do enjoy that aspect of the experience. I think we all long for connection, particularly with like-minded people. Thank you for sharing this poetry as well.

    Reply
    • There’s a lot to be said about social interactions Melissa. Apparently we have an average of 17 of them daily. I don’t know what a healthy range is but I’m sure going to make sure that my 17 are quality.

      Reply
  4. Tammy, what a fabulous post! I love the poems and the idea of bringing it into the market where so much beauty is shared. Thanks for this lovely morning read.

    Reply
    • It’s a perfect venue for a poet, isn’t it? A little Wendell Berry next to the dinosaur kale?

      Reply
  5. Love this stanza:

    This is true Zen: two friends who walk together
    And give each other cause to listen close,
    As well as means to satisfy the whether,
    To dwell within in satisfied repose.

    Reply
    • Me too Nancy. Talk about poetic confidence! The fact that this talented person just typed that out amazes me.

      Reply
  6. Lovely poetry. And I am captivated by the idea of going out onto the pavements with a typewriter to write instatnt poetry. What an enchanting idea.

    Reply
    • Don’t you love it? I’m so happy that there is a use for those lovely old machines.

      Reply
  7. That is so true about social interaction. Isn’t a form of torture being removed from human contact? I love the friendliness and the human contact of farmer’s markets – so very different from the cold, sterile and impersonal experience of shopping in a supermarket xx

    Reply
  8. How cool! I wish I had a farmers market poet. And, yes, social connectedness is a key component to human wellbeing, and farmers markets are great places to connect with your neighbors as well as the farmers who grow your food.

    Reply
  9. It sounds as if you have a wonderful farmer’s market.

    Reply
    • We do have a fabulous market. Alas, it does not have a poet. This was at a market that I visited while traveling. Great idea though, isn’t it?

      Reply
  10. Tammy . .thank you! You always teach me and inform me. I didn’t know about poets setting up shop in farmer’s markets. Wonderful! That photo at the top was poetry to me.

    Reply
  11. Your poem is so special! And how great that old fashioned typewriters still have a use :)

    Reply
    • The poem that he did for me is really a treasure. There is a new coffee shop in town that has these old typewriters at every table.

      Reply
  12. It’s funny isn’t it: so much of what now passes for news or politics or wisdom in our culture is emoted rather than logically conveyed. Our society is filled with feelings rather than facts, and facts that we fear so much we cannot face them. In such an emotion-driven environment poetry should naturally be a literary pandemic, on everyone’s lips and impossible to avoid, and yet even now we struggle to understand it. I wonder if it is our assumptions regarding stanzas and sentence structure that would have us believe that only certain groups of words are poetry, and only certain authors are poets – when in fact the world is filled with poetry, it surrounds us every day, even now. All words are poetry if we choose to interpret them that way. In fact, a lot of news and politics and cultural wisdom suddenly make much more sense when interpreted as the fictional product of a tortured artist.

    Reply
    • Agreed Rob. All words are poetry. In fact, I think a lot of the cutting edge music that my kids are listening to really takes a lot of the news and politics and puts it to verse.

      Reply
  13. Great photo!

    Reply
  14. Hi Tammy–I love this concept of bringing poetry out into the marketplace, into the flows of everyday life. Here’s a gift, a short poem, by Frank Steele

    The Gift

    There are moments when I know I am
    my father getting out of a car.
    His hand shuts the door without looking back.
    His gait walks across the street in traffic.
    If I wave to my friends they may not see
    either of us. For one morning I feel safe
    without looking back.

    Reply
  15. Tammy,
    Lovely story today, thank you for a nice Sunday morning read with my tea.

    I’ll leave you with a near-haiku someone turned in on a work order at my spouse’s work:

    The pipes are old.
    They have failed.
    Sewage bubbles to the surface.

    Reply
    • Hahahaha! That is so funny. Did you see the chicken poetry that has been going around?
      Chicken.
      Road.
      The crossing is within.
      There is no
      other side.

      Reply
  16. Thanks for sharing this idea from Natalie Goldberg about planting yourself in the midst of a crowd, listening, and creating poetry. It’s encouraged me. One more way to generate ideas. A farmers’ market…what better place? Happy National Poetry Month, Tammy! ~Lori

    Reply
    • Lori, I would love to see you do something like this. We need to bring more acknowledgement to poetry and what a better way?

      Reply
  17. I love the interaction at the farmers market. It is the best part about it. To meet the people who grow your food is important and here in Boulder Colorado most of the growers actually come to the farmers market to sell thier produce instead of hire people to sell for them. It is also all local produce and not anything bought and re-sold. I love Boulder!

    Reply
    • Boulder is terrific. I miss it a lot but visit several times per year. Farmers Markets are such hard work.

      Reply
  18. waw! Street poems! How cool is that! This street poet really caught it right about your blog! You woon’t see anyhtning like this here in belgium! Waw, even!

    Reply
  19. I don’t think any of our local farmer’s markets have street poets–what a fun innovation!

    Reply
  20. Inspiring poetry that excites the mind and heart. As for Farmer’s market, just love everything about it. Colorful, exciting, lots of healthy stuff to discover and indulge in.

    Reply
  21. Tammy, I had no idea there were such people as street poets. How enlightening! And a poem was written just for agrigirl’s blog. So cool. The Zen poem is also striking. Together once again we sing of God
    In each flat step, in every common phrase.
    The most special of friendships, I think.

    Reply
  22. I agree on all three accounts. I love the idea of encouraging poets to do this public work.

    Reply
  23. Thank you for the shout out!

    I’m glad you got the experience of public poetry…it is happening slowly but surely on a global scale. My personal hope is that it will change human interaction bit by bit, encouraging creativity, connection, and personal worth.

    Reply

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