Online you can find Jacqueline Suskin at yoursubjectyourprice.com, but in day to day life she may be just about anywhere. The Hollywood Farmer’s Market, for instance. Her art is, technically speaking, improvisational poetry, but on a more visceral level, her art is the ability to grant the gift of human emotion.
The deal is simple: If you find yourself in proximity to the Poem Store, all you have to do is approach the table. You name the subject, you decide your own price, and Jacqueline starts typing. When she is finished, she asks permission to read the piece aloud, as she believes that poetry is meant to be heard. When the poem has been read, she hands over the paper and is parted from her work. Some send copies back to her, but she never asks for a copy or a picture. She gives the words completely to the person for whom she wrote them. Though most give around $5, Suskin firmly believes that even if you only have a few cents to your name, you deserve a poem.
Jacqueline prides herself on her ability to cut immediately to the heart of the matter. She has no opportunity for writer’s block and claims that it is not something she has ever struggled with. She simply puts her fingers to the keys and types out what comes to her mind in that moment. Her impromptu poetry has reduced countless patrons to tears.
When the LA times talked to Suskin about the people who visit her booth, she said this: ”They want hope, or confidence, or they just need someone to see who they are. Half the time I feel like I am a therapist or a psychic.” Through it all, one thing is clear Jacqueline Suskin is a pure artist, and we are all just her muses.
If you’d like to see some of her poems, you can find them here.