A Kings County author is offering Park Slope residents custom-made poetry covering any topic and written right before their eyes in an act that marries prose — and performance.
“I call it poems on demand,” said author Lynn Gentry, a Sunset Park resident. “It’s performance poetry.”
Gentry, 33, works off a table and typewriter setup on Fifth Avenue near Union Street, where he chats up passersby to gauge their interests, before clacking out a poem on the spot.
This reporter challenged Gentry to a piece on the newspaper business, and, after about 10 minutes of writing, pausing, pondering, and more furious typing, was presented with “Center of the World.”
Within the politics of print
there is a deeper thought at play
as the changing of the guard
pushes fear into the fray
and so what does it mean
to give your mind
Knowing half the story
is human interest
and the other half combines
the necessities to keep
the ship afloat
unaware of how deep the water goes
and so sits the climate
which all are posed today
to live with conviction
or slowly fade to grey
I hope we write about
the civil unrest
and let the people
decide the rest
Gentry was inspired by a performance poet he spotted at the Oregon Country Fair while couch surfing out west more than a decade ago, and he debuted his own act in 2009 on the streets of San Francisco, where he says folks tend to be more esoteric than their New York City counterparts.
“You end up finding people more in that mode of exploring life and journeys and everything else,” he said.
He’s since moved to ply his trade in Brooklyn, where he prefers a Park Slope clientele over customers in other neighbors, like Williamsburg, where he says residents are more interested in the novelty of his act, and less in the craft.
“In Park Slope, people are way more into the idea of doing something creative, or artistic,” said Gentry. “With Williamsburg… some people think about it as the experience, but actually engaging with what’s going on in the moment is not always the case.”
In his career as a custom poetry author, Gentry estimates he’s written some 30,000 original pieces, of which he seldom keeps copies, making nearly every poem unique.
“As far as it goes, it really is one of a kind, If the only person that really ends up having is the person I wrote if for,” he said.
Contract a poet in Park Slope [Fifth Avenue and Union Street] on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m, and on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. ($20 suggested donation).