I write poems by request on a vintage manual typewriter, usually a Royal Futura 800. I have a conversation with each person and find out what they would like a poem about and I write it on the spot. Often, I ask them to read it aloud while I record a video. This adds to the enjoyment they get out of it.
As the Lead Curator for the FIGMENT Oakland art festival I’m always looking for artists who can combine narrative storytelling with a well designed, layered engagement model. Someone who can design an interaction that works on different levels, for different types of participants, across a wide spectrum of interests and abilities (After all, children engage differently than adults, extroverts differently than introverts, etc.). I’ve always found Claire’s work to exemplify this curatorial white whale. Her pieces are thoughtful, engaging, and intimate; combining elements of conversation and adventure in novel and captivating ways.
Kasey Smith, Lead Curator, Figment Oakland
Claire’s Poetry by Request service has been a big hit at our event, the Bay Area Book Arts Jam, for the past few years. She provided a unique activity in which our visitors of all ages could participate. We are pleased that she is helping to keep the Art of Poetry alive and fun.
Event goers were impressed that she could write a poem while they waited, after having a short conversation with her. She asked people to read their poems aloud and photographed them holding them which made it more personal and interactive.
As an event organizer, I found her to be very responsive in our email communications. She arrived on time and was prepared to start quickly and without assistance. That’s always a plus for a busy event!
Pati Bristow and Becky Barber
Event Organizers, BookArtsJAM
Claire came to my housewarming party. She arrived at the time I asked her to and got set up without much fuss. Her typewriter is so cool! My guests were intrigued. I went first to break the ice, and then they all wanted a poem. I didn’t really know what I wanted a poem about, but Claire asked good questions and was easy and fun to talk to. I would recommend her service for any kind of party. It’s unique and memorable.
Amanda Yopp, Arts Educator
FIGMENT Oakland is an inclusive, participatory community-led arts festival. All of our artists bring work that invites engagement with our attendees. Claire’s Poetry by Request was a perfect fit for our event.
She spoke to each person requesting a poem and then custom-made a poem for them on the spot for them to take with them. Recipients were asked to read the poems aloud which was a very moving experience for many of them.
Several participants said that this activity was the best thing about the festival! She brought all the gear she needed and was able to set up and get going with minimal help from the event organizers, which is always great with a busy event. We look forward to having her back next year!
Thanks so much for all you do, Claire!
Marissa Joy Clark, Event Producer, Figment Oakland
I had a heartfelt conversation with Claire and she wrote me an amazing poem! She wrote a simple, beautiful haiku, which captured the feeling of the situation we talked about perfectly. I felt like she really listened to me and saw into me in a way that was very gratifying and surprising. The conversation and the wonderful poem I got to remember it by made for a lovely experience that I will remember.”
Kit Davey, Artist