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Sooke writer composes impromptu poems for strangers on typewriter

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Laurann Brown was walking down the street with a her friend, in a deep discussion about the direction her life was going, when she mentioned a scene in the movie Bruce Almighty.

“And Jim Carrey was like, ‘God! Why won’t you send me a sign?’” Laurann recalls, the actor asking for guidance from above.

And just as Laurann was explaining how Carrey’s character didn’t appreciate being suddenly cut-off by a truckload of street signs in the movie, Laurann noticed a sign attached to a suitcase saying, "Pick a topic. Get a poem."

“It was a sign,” Laurann recalls with a laugh. “We saw a sign!”

Which was followed by noticing a turquoise typewriter and a “peaceful-looking” poet who said her named was Fatima Hirsi.

“I said, ‘What are you doing?’” Laurann remembers asking. “And she said, ‘You just tell me a few things about what’s going on and I’ll write you a poem in 20 minutes.’”

So Lauraan agreed to spend a couple minutes answering Fatima’s insightful questions to inform a poem.

“People can be very open,” Fatima says. “And that’s really the magic of the poem, how vulnerable someone else is willing to be.”

Inspired by Laurann’s answers, the poet went to work on her typewriter, promising a personalized poem for when Laurann returned.

“It’s a surprise every time I do it,” Fatima says. “Because you never know what you’re going to end up writing about.”

But Fatima does know she started packing up her portable typewriter and travelling hours a day to compose impromptu poetry for people passing by after being inspired by a fellow writer while living she was living in Austin, Texas.

“I’m an introvert,” Fatima explains. “So it sounded like a really cool way to connect with other people.”

After writing countless poems on her typewriter for strangers since 2014 (you can read some of them here), Fatima never expected how deep those connections could be.

“I share such intimacy with strangers,” Fatima says. “We cry together and we hug each other.”

And after Laurann returned, and read the poem that proved shockingly insightful and overwhelmingly inspiring, she says she couldn’t hold back her tears.

“There’s something very powerful and very meaningful when you feel seen,” Laurann says. “And that moment, that feeling, is staying with me.”

While Laurann couldn’t be more grateful for this sign that she is on the right path, Fatima is thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with others to make something meaningful.

“Be open to wonder and be willing to be vulnerable,” Fatima says. “Because that’s where the magic happens.” 

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