Laying it on the lines

Denver writer is poised and ready to create art on the spot

Bruce Goldberg
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 1/7/20

Roses are red, violets are blue Wish I could write poems fast Just like you Give Michael Prince 10 minutes and a word prompt, and he’ll pump out a poem custom-made just for you for the cost of $5 …

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Laying it on the lines

Denver writer is poised and ready to create art on the spot

Posted

Roses are red, violets are blue

Wish I could write poems fast

Just like you

Give Michael Prince 10 minutes and a word prompt, and he’ll pump out a poem custom-made just for you for the cost of $5 to $10.

If you’ve seen him in action at public events such as Denver’s Santa Fe Art Walk, Taste of Colfax, a small crafts fest and similar happenings, you’ve seen an artist in action.

“Pick a topic, get a poem,” Prince is fond of saying. “Just give me a prompt; it could be a phrase, a word. It usually takes me three to five minutes to write, about 75 or less words.”

The topic? “It’s something they want a poem about, something that’s on their mind,” he said.

Prince’s creativity flows — quickly and prolifically — each time he writes a poem that a customer requests. He’s been doing this for two years, and is out there at least twice each week pursuing this side gig. He also works one to three big events each month.

On his busiest day, Prince churned out about 50 poems in three or four hours, he said. It didn’t lead to burnout.

“Actually, it’s really exhilarating,” he said. “Afterwards, my brain was still spinning with ideas.”

He does all this on a machine that earlier cultures called a “typewriter.”

“I’ve been writing since I was a kid. Back then, it was stories about cartoons that I watched,” said Prince, 42. “I used their characters and wrote about them. Then I evolved my own characters and stories. Now, it’s usually short stories I do today.”

Prince works three mornings a week at Hooked On Colfax, a coffee shop in the City Park neighborhood. He’s the art director, but also pitches in to prepare food.

As the owner of Cellar Door Books, he’s also considering collaborations with artists for books, “who would do an illustration about whatever the prompt was,” Prince said. Cellar Door started with anthologies and has released four books thus far.

His eclectic interests include working with Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, a literacy program that obtains free books for kids.

“They made me their poet laureate,” Prince said. “I donate 20% to the library when I work at it here (in Denver).”

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