People’s Poetry Grid

May 19, 2013

So there are a number of positions for public and/or performing artists that I’ve been applying for recently.  It’s a new thing for me.  Over the past years I’ve starting thinking more and more seriously about myself as an artist.  Granted, I started writing poems to mess with Dan Schrager’s stewardship of the LSRHS Fountain, but it has been a long and evolving road that has really come to a boil since I hit the Tannery Arts Center.

I’ve submitted two projects in the last month, and I should know within the next two weeks about both of them.  It is really exciting that these opportunities exist for artists in this community, and I feel quite proud of the proposals I put forth.

Most recently I applied for “Libraries Inside Out” through the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music, Santa Cruz City Arts, and Santa Cruz Public Libraries.  Their 2012 installation was a series of faces pasted in large scale on the side of the library.


For the 2013 Libraries Inside Out project I’m proposing a People’s Poetry Grid.  In the past months I have been writing “street poetry” by bringing my typewriter downtown and writing poems by request on any topic people ask of me.


I have been writing these poems on quarter sheets of printer paper and keeping a carbon copy of each poem for myself.  Because these poems are written in downtown Santa Cruz, and are requested by the people of Santa Cruz, they often have a local flavor and even at times address Santa Cruz landmarks.

I conceived of the People’s Poetry Grid when, after re-typing and photocopying some of my favorite street poems, I tacked the extra photocopies onto my wall.

Later that same evening I was working in Microsoft Excel and the organization of the rows and columns inspired me tack letters and numbers above the poems on my living room wall.  Over the next weeks the grid grew to almost the entire wall.  Friends started talking about their favorites through the coordinates:  “I like F6, and B2” and other friends could locate the poems easily.

Kevin Devaney Poetry Grid Santa Cruz



The Grid expanded and has covered almost my entire wall.  It has (in my humble opinion) its own humble and minimalist beauty.


The people’s poetry grid would cover 3 of the 9 panels of the Library’s outside wall.  Then, through a voting process (this is where the People’s part comes in), the top 6 poems would be scaled up from their original 4.25” x 5.5” sheets to the size of the entire remaining panels.

This is the beautiful thing about poems: they’re cheap.  All I would need would be paper and maybe a new typewriter ribbon, sheets of plexiglass (for protection from the elements) and framing, and I’d be able to produce this People’s Poetry Grid for all of Santa Cruz to enjoy.  I’ll let you know if I get it on June 1st.

I’ve also applied for the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s Participatory Performing Artist in Residence Program.  I should hear back for that proposal sometime around yesterday.  I submitted the idea of setting up five different typewriters from five different decades, and letting museum patrons type out memories from those decades on the corresponding machine.  Then I would write poems in response to the memories and bind the lot of them into a book available for the museum’s collection.  The title of the project was “give me an excuse to buy all the typewriters I see.”   (kidding)

This is a kind of first taking a swing at being a professional artist.   In my spare time, between running events three or four times a week, volunteering to get this theater built and writing two books.   Seriously folks, it’s hard to hustle this hard when the weather’s so darn nice.  If I get either of these awards the first thing I’m doing is taking a day to go stare at this pretty ocean that I moved across the country to be next to.


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