Brownlowe travels the country writing custom poetry, and spent a few days in San Diego.
“It is snowing in Portland now so I thought I would come and hang out at the beach,” he said, laughing.
Brownlowe set up a wooden TV tray at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market, placed his vintage Smith-Corona typewriter on top, and its worn case etched with the words “Custom Poems: Your Subject, Your price” below.
Crowds gathered to wait in line to get a custom poem, written on the spot, in as little as five minutes.
“Take me to a place where the sun always shines, so I may venture outside to find what makes my soul thrive,” Brownlowe read out loud to a woman named Nicole, who asked for a poem about moving to San Diego. “The beach heals my sadness the second I step onto the sands and I praise the day I was called to this land where a new adventure is about to begin.”
Some poems are too personal to read out loud. One woman asked Brownlowe to write something about the recent passing of her mother.
“Oh my word,” she said as she read the poem through tears but with a smile. “You’re going to make me cry.”
“It’s a weird job where it’s like, if you make someone cry, it’s like you know that something good happened, I guess,” Brownlowe reflected.
For hours, he created poetry out of random words or emotions. One woman asked him to write a poem about choosing happiness.
“We are always going to have heartache and bad luck and false starts and people who annoy us,” Brownlowe typed. “But there is a choice to let them burn the rest of our day to the ground or choose happiness, because we will never know when it will be our time to peace out. So let us smile to awaken the inner peace that is our nature, and will give us the courage to survive whatever is trying to kill our good vibe.”
“I often get asked if like, I’m a literary major or an English major or studied poetry and all that and the answer is no,” Brownlowe said. “I’m just a street poet.”