Day 2 – “B” as in “Busking”
Day 2 of the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, and on to the letter “B.” Which, today, is for “Busking.” This word is not widely-known, and that’s perfectly understandable. I had no clue what busking was until this last year. It is a very archaic term–let’s shed some light on it with an education moment, brought to you by (of course) the letter B….
In the Oxford Dictionary, “busk” is defined as the following:
[to] play music or otherwise perform for voluntary donations in the street or in subways (Oxford Dictionary, 2015).
To simplify that and make it tangible, a busker is basically a street performer, selling their talent on the street for public donations. The Oxford Dictionary goes on to explain a little bit of the “busking” origin:
Busking used to take place not in shopping centres but at sea. The word busk comes from Italian buscare or Spanish buscar, which both mean ‘to seek’. Its earliest use in English was in the nautical sense ‘cruise about, tack’. This became extended to mean ‘go about selling things’, and then, in the middle of the 19th century, ‘go about performing’ (Oxford Dictionary, 2015).
While that’s all fine and dandy, you’re probably wondering what busking has to do with my blog challenge theme of Poetry. And that’s fair. But what many people don’t know about me is that busking has everything to do with Poetry if you’re in my little corner of the world, and that is precisely what I wish to share with you in this post.
Busking. It is precisely what I do, at least in this season of life. No, not beat poetry, though I admire and respect that genre very much so. Each week looks pretty much the same–full time writer during the weekdays, then busking on the weekends. Each weekend, I pack up one of my typewriters, my desk and chair, and set out to sell custom-made poetry on the streets with my “Pop Up Poetry” shop. My little one-man-band-stand. Those who are curious enough to approach me will find out that if they give me any topic of their choosing, I will type a custom poem for them, on the spot. And then hand it over, signed, dated, and perhaps a personal note on the back. A year ago, when I first broke free into the realm of writing full-time, I would have laughed to think this is where I would be 12 months later. I would have never believed it. Introverted me? Putting herself out there? In public? With strangers? No way.
I started busking ‘officially’ in February, but I was gearing up for my sunny-day Pop Up romps since November of last year, befriended and mentored by the one and only Eddie Cabbage of Asheville, North Carolina, who has been making a name for poet-buskers for some time now under his busking name “Poetry On Demand.” Feeling knowledgeable and courageous enough to put myself out there (literally), I struck up a partnership with Broadway Coffeehouse and Archive Coffee & Bar to host busking gigs every weekend at their locations while the weather still proved wintry. I began taking poetry requests from my baristas and bartenders as “live” practice, which was–I’ll be honest–terrifying yet the best thing I’ve ever experienced. And the more Pop Up Poetry I performed, the easier it became to converse with people, to produce poems faster and with fewer hesitations, to open my mind to possibilities and topics and stories I had not yet lived or did not fully understand–but that was the beauty of it! I took snapshots of peoples’ lives and pulled a poetry rabbit out of my metaphorical hat and voila! Magic happens.
As I mentioned before, I would have never expected my writing career to manifest itself in this precise manner, but I couldn’t be more happy, nor more grateful for the incredible experiences and opportunities it has opened up for me and my work. With that, below is a poem recalling the exact moment I realized that I could actually, really, truly do this. Possibly for a living. And here we are. Dear reader, if we ever meet, do not hesitate to ask for a poem. I love what I do, and I would gladly whip one up for you. Even if it was hand-scrawled on a napkin. 😉