Off Duty: Poems Typed Fresh

Matthew Roth writes poems on his typewriter, often setting up during Sola Coffee Café’s pop-up markets in North Raleigh. His practice is called Poems Typed Fresh and for $5, his customers receive a typewritten poem created on the spot.

Matthew Roth writes poems on his typewriter, often setting up during Sola Coffee Café’s pop-up markets in North Raleigh. His practice is called Poems Typed Fresh and for $5, his customers receive a typewritten poem created on the spot.

“You don’t have to have a tweed jacket to appreciate this.”

– Matt Roth, clinical contracts manager and author of Poems Typed Fresh

by Jessie Ammons

photograph by Travis Long

Matt Roth, who works in the field of clinical research, was also once an English major. “I’ve been writing poetry for myself in fits and starts since I was in high school,” Roth says. “I’ve learned over the years that if I don’t make time to write things, then I start to get frustrated and things just don’t go well.”

That became clear when he helped his wife, Tyler Roth, launch a greeting card company, and didn’t set aside time for himself to write. He then decided it was time to hold himself accountable for his own creative endeavors. Inspired by writers elsewhere (he doesn’t claim this idea as his own), Roth began to set up his typewriter outside of Sola Coffee Cafe in North Raleigh and charge $5 to write a poem on the spot. “It’s putting my back to a wall,” he says: terrifying but exhilarating, and decidedly effective. “If I’m left to my own devices, I’ll obsess over a poem or I’ll futz around with things.” It’s also a way to spark a love of poetry, he says. “I want to give people a public, unexpected experience with poetry … remind them that, hey, this is something cool that’s going on and something you can appreciate.”

His operation is called, fittingly, Poems Typed Fresh. “The time limit, all of the constraints, are 100 percent set up to put me in a situation where I have to write poetry. It’s like poetry bootcamp every time.”

   typedfresh.com