By Claire Harlin
“This is a random act of poetry,” said Dylan Barmmer as he handed a note card to a passing girl at the Solana Beach Amtrak Station on a recent Wednesday evening.
She read it:
Don’t be Heartbroken
you know that thing’s a muscle
tear it to build it
She raised her hand to her mouth, letting out a sincere gasp.
“Oh my gosh, how did you know I needed to hear that?” she said. “Wow, you really made my day.”
For Barmmer, such reactions are not uncommon. They’re the reason he has continued to share at least 3,000 random acts of poetry — all in the haiku form —around North County in the last couple of years. If you frequent the local farmers’ markets or coffee shops, it’s likely he has handed one to you. Or, you may have seen his poetry cards on a shelf or bulletin board at Bindu Yoga in Del Mar or Java Depot in Solana Beach, to name a couple of places they’re often left.
“Nobody else is really doing this that I know of and most people seem surprised at it,” said Barmmer. “If it’s only a few minutes a day, it gives me something to do that people aren’t going to encounter anywhere else.”
Barmmer, who makes his living in the field of web marketing, really got into poetry a few years ago when he went to a poetry reading on a massive lawn surrounded by redwoods at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur.
“I was learning how to have control of my mind and harness my thoughts a little bit better, so I went to an open mic,” said Barmmer. “I wrote some things on the fly and went on stage and I got a great response.”
He started writing more and more, and he said it was therapeutic. His “random acts of poetry” idea came later, but at first it didn’t involve note cards with haikus.
The original idea, he said, was to video record poems in different locations, chosen according to the content of the poem. For example, when Barmmer was let go from his job a few years ago — during a tough recession — he wrote a poem for those experiencing job loss and read it in front of his former employer’s office building.
“It was about dealing with job loss and stepping into uncertainty and following your heart,” said Barmmer of the video, which can be viewed along with his others at www.youtube.com/wordisborntv. “I got more feedback on that than any poem, and that was the genesis for me to dive deeper into it.”
But after making almost 90 videos, Barmmer decided to take a different direction with his random acts of poetry.
“It seems like it was all about me and I thought that was kind of egocentric, so I started going around with blank cards and a pen. I asked people to give me a topic and I would write them a poem,” he said. “I did that once all day at the Encinitas Street Fair. I got like $100 in tips, but I also got really sunburned.”