Take a tap on the manual typewriter

Event paying tribute to written word asks people to share their thoughts at several locations in SLO

slinn@thetribunenews.comMay 12, 2010 

What do Devo, Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho and American linguist Paul Frommer have in common? They’re all fans of Typing in Public.

This weekend, community members are invited to sit down at manual typewriters stationed throughout San Luis Obispo and share their thoughts. It’s part of Reading in Public, a community project that pays tribute to the printed word.

“It’s all about taking outdated technology and getting people to use it in a different way,” co-organizer Catherine Trujillo explained.

Typing in Public isn’t the group’s first foray into public performance.

Last August, about 15 community members shared their favorite books with kids, coffee house patrons and pedestrians. This year, there’s a typographic twist.

The first Typing in Public event takes place Friday at Cal Poly’s Robert E. Kennedy Library. Teachers, students and staff members can tap on a typewriter owned by the library’s namesake, a former university president.

On Saturday, about a dozen typewriters will be stationed throughout the city. Participating locations include Black Horse Espresso & Bakery, Linnaea’s Café, The Sanitarium and Steynberg Gallery.

Trujillo described typing as more than just keying words into a computer.

“You’re actually engaging with the typewriter,” explained Trujillo, Cal Poly’s special collections curator. “You have to slam those keys down and make contact with the paper.”

To inspire creativity, the organizers asked artists, musicians, writers and others to come up with starting sentences. Contributors included Coelho, author of “The Alchemist,” Gerald Casale of Devo, and Frommer, who invented the Na’vi language heard in “Avatar.”

Reading in Public also recruited a few local literati, including poet Francesca Nemko, architect Bruce Silverberg and Cal Poly professor Victor Valle. Retired banker Carrol Pruett lent the group four vintage typewriters.

In addition to typewritten treatises, organizers are seeking entries via Facebook, Twitter, text message and the Reading in Public blog.

Volunteers will read selected entries at a wrap party Saturday night at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café that will feature the music of The Booker Tease, Vincent Bernardy and Anna + Ezra.

Trujillo said Typing in Public honors writing in all forms.

“Words do matter, and how you can communicate, that doesn’t change,” she said.

Typing in Public

Typing in Public takes place at 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Cal Poly’s Robert E. Kennedy Library and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at various locations. The event draws to a close at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sally Loo’s Wholesome Café, 1804 Osos St. in San Luis Obispo.

For more information, visit www.readinginpublic.com.

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