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Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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Filtering by Category: October Solo Show

Week 4: All Some People Have is Handwriting

Brett Rawson

We asked Rehani to write us a Words for Wallpaper. She asked us for a topic. We gave her three: one, all some people have is handwriting; two, a riptide is ripping the pages away from us; and three, we have never seen the same twig twice. She chose the first, thankfully, and wrote the lovely poem below. These are our words, and this is our wallpaper.

We thank Andrea Rehani for being our first solo show on the site, and we hope you will follow her words and work on Instagram (@wordsforwallpaper), and reach out to Rehani and request your own Words for Wallpaper (wordsforwallpaper@gmail.com). 

Week 3: Before I Knew I Was a Writer, I Was a Reader

Brett Rawson

For Week Three, we have scooted away from Words for Wallpaper and asked Rehani about her own relationship, attitude, and experience with the art and act of writing by hand.

HANDWRITTEN: Tell us about the current state of your handwriting. Are you happy with your penmanship? 

ANDREA REHANI: Majority if not all of my writing is initially written by hand. However my penmanship isn’t great. It resembles messy 4th grade handwriting. There are times I wish I wrote like my mother. Hers, elegant cursive strokes. Before I knew I was a writer, I was a reader. I used to copy my favorite sentences from books into my journal. I have been writing in a journal since I was in third grade. 

HW: What word do you use, prefer, like, or dislike, when it comes your handwriting homes, and what kinds of things do you write by hand?

AR: Sometimes, I think certain words carry certain identities, stereotypes, gender, or images. For instance diary writing is often associated with women and feelings. I like to use the word journal – I find it to be mostly neutral and it conveys thinking. I handwrite everything first: outlines, essay drafts, poetry, and grocery lists. Although, I wish my grocery lists were like haikus. 

HW: When you write, poetry or prose, where do you begin and where do you end? Do you start out by hand and finish by hand? Do you revise on a computer? What do you consider a finished product to be?

AR: I start my poetry, prose, prose poetry, my in-between stage, all by hand. My essays are usually written on color-coordinated and numbered note cards. Once I have the bones of what I am working on, I transfer it to a computer. My essays undergo several drafts and once they are on a computer, I print them, cross out words, handwrite words, and revise them on a computer. I don’t like to initially revise on a computer – I miss things. I need my writing physically in my hands. The words flow more organically when I handwrite them, too. Writing is never done because my perspectives are always changing. However, when I feel like I want to set one of my essays on fire or if I feel empty, then I consider them done for the time being. 

HW: Do you write handwritten letters often? 

AR: I have a pen pal in Michigan and we attempt to exchange every month or so. When I lived in New York, my mother and I exchanged letters. My mother has written me letters since I was young. I have a box filled with them. She, too, starts her day writing in her journal. 

HW: Where do you like to write by hand? Is place important to you, or is it something else - vibe, music, the trip to that place, or otherwise?

AR: I like to write down conversations I overhear on the train. Sometimes, they make me laugh. Sometimes, they’re absurd. Sometimes, they are profound.  I like to write down things I have to do. I like to write down unfamiliar words and their definitions.  I like to write down sentences or graphs or stanzas or lines I’ve admired. I like to write in parks and coffee shops. I like to be surrounded by people as I immerse myself in my writing world. I need a little noise, but I don’t like to listen to music when I write unless it’s in a coffee shop. The music there is subdued with coffee and voices. 

Week 2: Much of Art is Waiting, Much of Writing is Staring

Brett Rawson

For Week Two, we sat down a thousand miles away from Andrea Rehani and asked her about the origin, spirit, and plans for Words for Wallpaper.  

HANDWRITTEN: What is the origin story of Words for Wallpaper? How did it emerge, and what was its genesis? Or, if there was a WikiHow site on your project, how many steps would there be, and what were they?

ANDREA REHANI: Words for Wallpaper branched off of the concept behind Poems While You Wait. Before I became a member, I was an enthusiastic customer. I was in a coffee shop with my sister and we were brainstorming creative writing ideas. I remember saying something like, “I want poetry to be framed like photographs.” Then, my sister came up with the name. Like Poems While You Wait, people give me random topics and then I produce an original poem. Unlike Poems While You Wait, it’s not done on the spot. Sometimes, the poem takes a few days to make. 

The project is to get people excited about poetry. I don’t think you have to be a poet to enjoy a poem. I also feel personalized poems are special. It’s pretty rad to see people excited about writing – especially poetry. There’s this notion that poetry is as scary as math word problems or it needs to be something that is impossible to understand. I remember one of my first poetry classes with Kathleen and she wrote on the board, “Poetry must be as well written as prose. –Ezra Pound” I believe in this statement. Kathleen has taught me how to analyze the dramatic situation of a poem. She taught me to consider: who is speaking, to whom, and under what circumstances?

When I compose a poem, I still use those questions. I also consider form and content to communicate an image, a thought, or a memory. Form is structure; it can mean language, style, patterns, or the actual form of a poem. Content is meaning; it can mean characters, emotions, ideas, or tone. 

HW: Does your project have a mission statement, or guiding phrase that governs its spiritual space?

AR: I suppose my mission for W4W is to not only get people stoked about poetry, but also make it accessible for anyone. My mother and I exchange handwritten letters and I hate how many people don’t anymore. I love getting mail - especially thoughtful letters. I have had a pen pal for two years and we exchanged handwritten letters. The mission is also to make handmade art. My favorite type of poetry is prose poetry. The poems I produce are in this form. I love writing in a hybrid genre – it’s something that still is unexpected. Paragraphs seem familiar but are tweaked in prose poetry – they alter a familiar structure.

HW: Tell us a little bit about your experiences with the project. The topics you've received, the challenges you have encountered. 

AR: I started W4W by asking friends for topics. I asked readers and artists. At first I was a little nervous because I wanted to create something perfect for my friends. Then I realized there is beauty in imperfections. Creating something perfect isn’t what Words For Wallpaper is about – it’s about experimenting, understanding, and building. Like all handmade items, I want to create something unusual and unique. It’s unique to frame poetry, an image, a picture told in words. 

These topics serve as writing prompts or exercises for me. I’ve written poems on topics of love, anniversary, twinkle lights, teeth, doppelganger, cacti, being in the woods at dusk, and the unknown. The hardest topics for me were love and anniversary. I knew they were gifts and they had to be extra personal. I’ve noticed personalized poems attract people. Writing is a means of communication. To gift a poem has a thoughtful intention. I want my poems to be just as thoughtful. It’s interesting to see non-poets associate thoughtfulness with poetry. 

HW: Say Words for Wallpaper is a car, and its night. It has its headlights on, and so you, and us, know where it's headed, but even high beams fade like quicksand in the night. Do you have a destination in mind for Words for Wallpaper? Where is the project heading? Or, what's the next turn? Or, are you not concerned with what is beyond the bend for now? 

AR: I eventually want to hand-make my own frames. One ideas includes using the hard covers of books to make a frame. Another is creating a black-out poetry frame. This would entail taking any form of writing (such as an article, poem, piece of prose, etc) and blacking out certain words to create a revised and new poem. I like the idea of a poem within a poem. 

HW: Tell us about the name and how it relates to the typewriter, frames, still-words, and motion-images. Basically, tell us about the intersection between mental and physical realms of poetry, people, and expression.

AR: Wallpaper, art, typewriters, quotes are all used as a means for decoration. But, I don’t want my art to be pretty or just decorative; I want it to make you think. I like typing on a typewriter because it makes me think harder. I can’t look something up on the Internet. I have to rely on myself. Much of art is waiting. Much of writing is staring. The name is meant for decoration but there’s a duality. Decoration is associated with identity, personality, and choice. I wanted my name to encompass all of these ideas. 

HW: How can someone get Words on their Wallpaper?

AR: If you are interested in a poem, send me a poem topic at WordsForWallpaper@gmail.com. I will mail you the poem. 


Week 1: The Images and The Inspiration

Brett Rawson



When we asked Rehani about the inspiration for Words for Wallpaper, she was quick to mention Poems While You Wait, which is a group of Chicago poets who write poetry on demand (think: The Haiku Guys in NYC, only, they're not stuck to seventeen syllables). Founded by Dave Landsberger and Kathleen Rooney, you can find the traveling poets at events, street festivals, weddings, parties, or random locations around the city. For those on the receiving end, there is little to it: you see them sitting somethere, you think, I wish someone would write me a poem today, so you approach them, engage in friendly fire, fork over $5, pick a topic, and whoever is up next (they rotate), they write you a poem within 15-20 blinks. Don't a lot of people do these kinds of things? You see some individuals doing this, but rare are established groups of published poets. How will I know if it's them? Says Rehani, "They are the ones with the vintage typewriters." And she is one of "the ones." Oh, and all the proceeds go to Rose Metal Press. 

One obvious connection between Poems While You Wait and Rehani's Words for Wallpaper is the typwriter. "The approach to writing on typewriter is so different than a computer," Rehani said. "There isn’t a delete button. You need to have a certain kind of confidence when you use a typewriter." What about mistakes? They are everywhere. "Sometimes, I make mistakes and then I try to make the mistake part of the poem." And how could they not be? Standing before them is their reader, audience, and judge. When that kind of presence is present, it can increase the sound of time. 

"It's interesting to see where writing can go in such a short time. We, writers and poets, manipulate memories and images, but it's a little challenging when put on time constraints. It's almost like time is manipulating the poem, too."

Words for Wallpaper - Poems While You Wait