Poetry On Demand: Abigail Mott

As Abigail Mott typed away on her blue and white Underwood 315 portable typewriter, 7-year-old Destiny Greggs and her 3-year-old sister, Serenity, patiently waited for their personalized poem outside of Lancaster Central Market.

Mott, 21, originally of Lancaster, recently was perched at the corner of North Market and West Grant streets — with a small table, samples of her work and plenty of creativity — ready to produce poetic stanzas for a donation from customers on the unseasonably warm Tuesday afternoon.

The young girls' poem, which included some of their favorite things — hopscotch, ice cream and birds — was presented to them in just a few minutes on a half-sheet of white paper.

Customers have requested poems on a variety of topics and for a variety of reasons, Mott says.

"I do a lot that are personalized to them," Mott says. "Then there are the love ones, politics, random words or animals. Some keep them for themselves, others give them as gifts."

Some have asked for Mott's permission to make her poems into song. She says she does allow it, she just asks that they share their compositions with her.

The on-the-spot demand is what invigorates Mott.

"I don't have the time to think too hard about it or get stuck," Mott says. "I have to do it because they are standing there waiting for it."

Having enjoyed writing since she was a child, Mott became interested in poetry when she was about 17.

"It was a time that I had a lot of things to express and poetry seemed like a natural way to do it," Mott says.

The home-schooled Mott enjoys the flexibility that her portable poetry provides and has created poems while traveling to Portland, Ore., Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans and Seattle.

In fact, the idea of spontaneous poetry was shared with her while traveling in San Francisco. While looking for an open mic where she could read her poems, she came across a man doing instant poetry on the street. She shared her poems with him and he asked her to meet him the next day at a coffee shop. It was there that he gave her the typewriter and a book about spontaneous poetry to encourage her to share her talent with others.

"It was a pretty amazing thing," Mott says. "And I can do this wherever I go."

Having family in the area, Mott usually stays locally a few weeks at a time and will set up shop outside of Lancaster Central Market on market days and downtown during First Fridays.

"Weather permitting," Mott adds.

On Dec. 9, she'll travel to New York City for a month or so, but plans to be in her usual spot outside of Carr's Restaurant on Dec. 7.

Although Mott would not disclose what she makes on a given day, she did say that she "makes enough," but shares her poetry for other reasons.

"I hope I capture a little piece of them that they can take along and enjoy whenever they wish," she says.

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