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 itShe 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.”
Now, he keeps about 25 poems in circulation that he said people have responded positively to, and he hands them out. On the back of each card is information about his “WORD” poetry readings that take place every third Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at E Street Cafe in Encinitas.
“It’s forcing me to hand write. It’s a good creative outlet, and I am passing it on,” he said. “I hope it makes people think ‘When was the last time I wrote something down?’”
Barmmer said sometimes people tell him they have his poems framed in their homes, or people even more frequently take photos of his poems and share them on Facebook.
“There’s this interactive aspect to it that’s evolved,” he said, adding that he is the self-proclaimed, indisputable and first-ever Poet Laureate of Facebook.
One time Barmmer said he left a poem in a journal at Staples in Solana Beach (where he buys all his note cards) and months later he got a text message from an old friend he hadn’t seen in years telling him she happened to buy that journal and found the poem.
As a writer, Barmmer said he can get introverted, so passing out poetry — or leaving them around town like Easter eggs — has helped him communicate, perform, interact and make connections with others.
“I hope it’s also a good inspiration for people to express themselves better, especially now when I see people use text or email to say things they would never say in real life,” he said. “It also promotes just doing something nice at random, not just around the holidays.”
Barmmer’s spoken word album “Love is Yoga” is available on iTunes and CD Baby. For more information on Barmmer, visit www.wordisborn.net or www.facebook.com/dbarmmer.
Barmmer’s “random acts” of poetry aren’t always random.
He’s left the following
haiku in ATM cash slots:Direct Deposit
The money we make
can’t buy us True Happiness
but Love shines like Gold
He’s left the following
near clothing boutiques:Passion Victim
Fashion is fleeting
but Passion lasts forever
dress yourself in LOVE
He’s left the following on the beach:Surf
Yes the Surf is up
but is your Soul moving too
flowing and churning?