Jolene first caught my attention at Denver’s First Friday Art Walk and again at an electronic show, The Polish Ambassador. She was beautiful, unique and rare. I could tell the man behind her was in love with her just by the way he looked at her, and ever so delicately touched her. When asked, he told me they met two years ago in an antique store. I’m guessing it was love at first type: Jolene is a typewriter.
Ryan Ashley Knowles is the name of the man behind Jolene. He creates poems on the spot using his typewriter. Together, they travel and work all kinds of events including weddings, private parties and the old Pearl Street Market on Sundays. Knowles says that private events are his favorite. “I literally become part of the party, people love feeding me drinks, the conversations get more personal,” he says.
In an age where poetry seems to grow more ancient by the day (Shakespeare who?), Knowles is helping people remember how beautiful and powerful words truly are. “What makes me want to do this is my love of words, romance, connection with strangers and the idea of bringing poetry back to life,” he says.
Just as people use exercise, shopping or in my case, chocolate as an outlet to relieve stress, heartaches or bad days, Knowles uses his writing as an opportunity to heal from a traumatic past. “I use every connection and moment shared as a chance to grow. My life is an open door, I welcome all to come in, but just as easily they can leave. This makes me strong, and content with letting people go.”
This form of spontaneous poetry comes natural to Knowles. I asked him to write me a poem about cats (who doesn’t love cats?) and in 30 seconds I received a feline friendly poem that would make any cat lover smile. What is so beautiful about his poetry is how it captures the essence of the moment. Using his powers of instant creativity and keen observations, Knowles produces passionate and expressive poems on the spot. His inspirations include the extremes: cold and hot, death and life, and tears and laughter.
Since his job depends on in-person interactions, I was curious to see Knowles’ thoughts on social media like Facebook and Twitter. Although he sees these sites as useful tools to share information immediately, he admits that he, like the rest of us, is guilty of browsing Facebook and YouTube with no intention. “I also feel social media is desensitizing communication, taking away from eye contact and verbal talk. This is another reason why I think my project has a special place in this current time.”
To receive your own personalized poem by Knowles or to read more of his story, visit his website at untouchedpoetry.com