Live art performance creates art for strangers

Sitting in Goldy’s Corner Café with a turquoise typewriter in between them is Katlyn Garside, a senior creative writing and French major at Boise State, and Kylie MacEntee, a local writer. Every Wednesday at 5 p.m. these two come together and offer to write poems and short stories for any stranger who ventures to ask for one. They call this performance art, “words on demand,” and so says the small sign that they propped up on the end of their table.

“There’s no charge or anything like that; it’s basically just to get our writing out there,” MacEntee said.

“Words on demand” allows the two to create pieces of work on the spot. It’s not only to get their names out there, but also to hone
their skills.

“Essentially we just set up with a typewriter and our signs, letting people know that they can request a story or a poem or anything and we write it out and give it to them,” MacEntee said.

Garside and MacEntee have been doing “words on demand” for about a month. All of the pieces are written on pieces of paper that are 5×7 inches. Each piece they hand out is signed, numbered and marked with the name of their company, Ripe & Ruin. MacEntee initially started the company to sell the earrings that she makes, but now the company has expanded to anything that is creation.

The two met through a writing workshop that they had put together with mutual friends. After the workshop died down, they wanted to keep writing and get their writing out to an audience. The number of people who ask for a piece varies with each week.

“It’s very dependent whether something is going on downtown or not,” Garside said.

They choose to write on a typewriter because it’s the easiest way to write something that is legible, can be printed automatically and handed out.

“It keeps you from being able to edit your work; we like to have the mistakes included,” MacEntee said. “It shows the process of writing.”

People can come to the table with suggestions of what kind of story or poem they want. Once they were asked to write Harry Potter fan-fiction. Another time, a person emailed them his photos from his recent vacation and asked for a story inspired from those.

Others will give the reigns completely over to
the writers.

“It’s kind of whatever we want to write if somebody doesn’t give us a prompt,” MacEntee said

For the most part, Garside will write the poems and MacEntee does the short stories. If there is an overwhelming demand for one or the other they will crossover. Sometimes MacEntee will also write letters or journal entries for the participants.

They write at Goldy’s because it is a comfortable location for them and they enjoy the people that come through. It also doesn’t hurt that Goldy’s is very supportive of what they do.

“They are extremely supportive of people in the art community and it’s just a great vibe here,”
MacEntee said.

In general, the people who receive their work are very ecstatic about the pieces they get. So far, they haven’t had any negative feedback.

After they write each piece, they don’t keep a hard copy, but they take a photo of each piece they hand out to keep for a portfolio that they are compiling of their work.

“I think we’ll notice something in our writing evolve as we keep progressing and doing more and more of this,” MacEntee said.

As the project grows, Garside and MacEntee would like to include other people.

“Eventually we would like to have an open typewriter where we can have guest writers,” MacEntee said. “If they want to sit down and participate for however long, they’re welcome to even if they’re strangers to us.”

To stay updated with “words on demand,” look up Ripe & Ruin on Facebook.

About the author  ⁄ keelymills

Keely Mills is a senior communication major with a media production emphasis at Boise State. When Mills isn't writing or reading, she plays musical instruments such as the drums, guitar, piano, and accordion. Mills is always ready for travel and for learning new things. Follow her on twitter, @PelozaJ and check out her photos at