Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Dream Fulfilled--by Samantha Thornhill

Ever since my talk with Khadijah, where she mentioned doing poems in a grocery store, the dream has been relentless. It is a waking dream. It involves me performing my ode to picking blackberries in the produce section.

Today the dream came true, and Elana and Akua showed up to star in it, outside of Whole Foods, our next target. Moses, our filmographer was also there, ready to capture these moments, as he did on the trains with us almost a week ago.

How were we to do it? And how many poems could we get in before security arrived?

We plotted. Weighed the unknowns. But in the end, we headed downstairs not knowing what to expect, much like our unsuspecting audience. And so, as shoppers buzzed past me with their carts and their lists, I pulled out my carton of blackberries and began to recite my poem while eating them--more challenging than I thought. But it felt something like flying, as I approached customers with my discovery, these wondrous blackberries that I came across one day in the woods off the coast of Seattle.

My legs took me all over the produce section as I said my poem to whoever would listen. Some people stopped to behold the activity with clear appreciation, while others scattered like roaches in sudden light at the sight of me--particularly the couple fondling the lemons, the ones I approached to tell them about this marvelous gift.

When I ended, Elana, in the fish section, tapped a stranger on the back and began reciting her poem about eel--the first line mentions her walking to the refrigerator naked. The worker weighing tilapia raised his eyebrows at the sudden intimacy, and as the customer recieved his fish and scurried away, Elana began to continue her poem to the worker, who listened with clear amusement. The moment was beyond priceless, as customers bumped into one another in trying to flee or to catch a listen.

A few people who stopped to listen to me tuned into Elana, who was speaking to the whole store now. Workers scurried around us, not wanting to interrupt or get in the way of the camera, not quite knowing what to do. We simply took over. When Elana was finished, a small applause.

But it wasn't over. Because Akua emerged with a love poem in the flower section, nearby. The repeat customers stood and obeyed the moment, arrested by her words. By then, our number was up. A worker was on his way with a walkie talkie. We found that Whole Foods was less concerned about the fact that we broke out in poems in their store and more concerned with the fact that we were taping, and so Moses was asked to turn off his camera, as Akua finished up her poem and we dipped.

Outside, on the pavement, we rejoiced, eating the rest of my blackberries. A couple from inside, our captive audience, stopped to speak congratulate us and find out more. In true guerilla fashion, no business cards as yet, Elana tore off a piece of her eel poem and I used it to write down the information to this blog.

So nice couple with the cute baby, if you are reading this, thanks for letting us know how much you enjoyed our performances. Your encouragement meant so much. Go tell your friends that today, you got PUPPED!


  1. I wish I had been there. Although your description of the event was wonderfully vivid, where's the video? Would love to see it.

  2. Videos coming soon, to a you-tube near you...