On May 5, 2012, I'm turning 40. I'm going to mark the occasion by riding my bike for 40 days straight. With a typewriter behind me.
TYPE RIDER: CYCLING THE GREAT AMERICAN POEM
Note: If you don't have 7 minutes to see the above video, but have time to see a 1.5-minute trailer, go here:
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When I was a teenager, my dad put a typewriter in the hallway that
linked up all of our bedrooms. The hallway was a landing spot at the top
of the stairs, a shared space that served as a kind of pause between
our gatherings as a family and the solitude of where we each slept. He
put the typewriter on a desk against the far left wall, scrolled the
paper in, and started the first lines of a short story. And each night
before bed, I'd go over to that desk, peer at the paper, see what
someone else had written, and add my own words. That story and the
stories that followed fed my imagination, drew me more deeply into my
own creativity, and created an inextricable bond between those of us who
Now I want to bring that communal hallway back, that writing desk, and the typewriter that spun out new and fascinating stories. I want to make a space for collaboration and creativity, to invite people to contribute their voices to the larger story of the community we're all in.
On May 5, 2012, I'm turning 40, and in the spirit of creativity, connection, community, and conquering feats of physical endurance, I am embarking on a 40-day bike journey from Amherst, Massachusetts to Milwaukee, Wisconsin toting a typewriter behind me. (Why Milwaukee? Well, it just so happens to be the birthplace of the typewriter!)
I will be riding my bicycle for 40 straight days. Along the way, I'll be stopping in cities, towns, and other communities and will be setting up a mobile typing booth with the purpose of inviting people to contribute to a collaborative piece of writing. I'm not sure yet what form this will take - one poem, or a series of poems, or something I've yet to even imagine - but my goal remains the same: to bring people together through the written word, and to do so in a way that's collaborative yet personal, free-form yet structured, and also offers a shared space for different viewpoints and voices, and to deliver a mobile, tactile, interactive, and accessible platform for creative expression to people of all writing levels. And by taking the time to do this all by bicycle, I want to encourage people to nurture the art - and vital importance! - of slowing down to engage more deeply with our physical environments, to connect to the movement and power of our bodies, and to connect with others through our words. A portion of my funding will go toward a live video component which will allow supporters to experience the trip virtually.
I invite you to help me deliver my aqua Remington Ten Forty typewriter to more than 40 destinations through this fantastic bicycle voyage. By supporting my project, you will enable me to bring an unusual and interactive writing experience to dozens of communities on my way to Milwaukee and to people who will come together to create literary history. I am so excited to get this trip underway, and to share in the journey with you.
P.S. Check out the NEW BACKER REWARD!
Starting at $16.00, you can sponsor a route on the trip. Pick the destination on my itinerary (you can find this in the "Pledge $16 or More" section) and pledge the dollar amount for the corresponding mileage it will take to get me there from the previous day's ride (these mileages are also located there). Please note that the following routes have already been sponsored: Westfield, MA; Canton, CT; New Milford, CT; Clinton, NJ; Mahwah, NJ; Cornwall, PA; Black Lick, PA; Middletown, MA; Fannettsburg, PA; Johnstown, PA; Apollo, PA; Shaker Heights, OH; Detroit, MI; Ann Arbor, MI; Homer, MI; Chicago, IL; Kenosha, WI; Milwaukee, WI.
I will have a support vehicle that will meet me at various points throughout the days' rides. So there will be someone nearby to help with various aspects of the project, from preparing the mobile typing station location to providing support in the event of flat tires.
And although I will likely be cycling alone for portions of the trip, my hope is to have other riders join me for as long as they are able. In fact, if you or anyone you know might like to drop in for a day or two or longer, please send me an email!
I'm sure there will be days when it will harder to get out of bed than others, but my itinerary has me going at a very manageable amount of miles each day. The routes average about 32 miles a day.
I think a little bit of crazy is a good thing when it comes to setting goals that involve making one's dreams a reality. But I wouldn't say I'm certifiable. Don't hold me to it, though - I guess we'll see what happens by the time I roll into Milwaukee.