How Pedestrian is a video blog that seeks to make poetry more accessible to the general public.
From 2010 to 2011 we went out on the street regularly to bribe and beg people to read poems on video. We used poems by famous and not-so-famous poets alike. We used absurd poems and funny poems and sometimes even sexy poems. We hope this project does its little bit to help move poetry out of bourgeois sitting rooms (do those even exist anymore?) and back into the pubs and taxis where it belongs. While we are no longer filming new videos, we hope you enjoy the extensive collection we’ve posted here.
Our basic idea was to invade everyday spaces with verse, making it, in a concrete sense, a part of everyday life. We wondered: if we literally take poetry to the street, can we figuratively make it something more ‘pedestrian’?
Here are a few other things we are trying to establish with this site:
No one should be afraid of poetry. I believe the main purpose of poetry is to communicate with the reader at an unconscious level. As Lorna Crozier put it, “a poet is always on the edge of the unsayable—trying to turn it into something that sounds.” Good poems communicate ideas we can all understand on a gut level. Structure, rhythm and language assist a poem in communicating its idea effectively but they should not be the entire point of a poem. In some circles, poetry seems to have become nothing more than an intellectual exercise—I would like to move away from this. Yes, poems are intellectual: they can have several layers of meaning, they can reference the hell out of obscure texts from the 1830s, they can be full of scientific data, they can pontificate on Kant’s theories, but, in my humble opinion, they should always work on some more basic instinctual level. Sometimes I don’t consciously have a clue what a certain poem is talking about, but it makes my spine tingle or my skin ache or my heart hurt anyway. I might try to dig further into that poem, I might not, it’s my choice.
There’s a poet for everyone. We all have different brains and different back-stories, so we won’t all be touched by the same poet. Michael Burkard might be able to get into my brain and root around in there, but some of you will be completely indifferent to his work. Our goal at How Pedestrian is to be a space where you can explore different poets and, hopefully, find those special few that can flip the way you perceive the world.
Poetry doesn’t have to be serious. We can laugh at poems. We can shudder at their rhythmic beauty. We can even get a little turned on by them. At times, the poems on How Pedestrian aren’t read perfectly. Sometimes the situations they are read in are absurd. This is the point: we want to expand the way you look at poetry.
Having said all this, our end goal is to get our viewers/readers interested enough to want to contribute to the site. We want you to leave comments. What did you think of the poem? What did you think of the location it was shot in? Do you think our taste in poetry sucks? Let us know.
We also want you to shoot video for us; we are always looking for different locations, different readers and different tastes in poetry. If you have a video camera, some poems and the guts to approach strangers, send us an e-mail at HowPedestrian.Info@gmail.com.