Poet Audrey Kohler interacts with patrons at the Downtown Dames during First Friday. Kohler took donations for AWARE and wrote poems based on suggestions. “The pressure is there,” Kohler said. (Michael Penn, Juneau Empire)

Poet Audrey Kohler interacts with patrons at the Downtown Dames during First Friday. Kohler took donations for AWARE and wrote poems based on suggestions. “The pressure is there,” Kohler said. (Michael Penn, Juneau Empire)

Pop-up poet proves popular

Improvised poems for First Friday generate excitement

Dogs, weather, anagrams to loving husbands — Audrey Kohler wrote about it all.

Kohler, a Juneau poet, was at Downtown Dames for First Friday taking poetry suggestions and donations to Juneau’s gender-inclusive transitional shelter housing AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emerigencies). In return, she produced personalized, improvised poems.

“I’ve been dabbling with writing my whole life,” Kohler said between typing poems on her grandmother’s Royal typewriter. “Since finding my voice, I’ve been looking for all kind of ways to express it. One of my main goals with poetry is that I can get people to realize poetry is an accessible form of expression. All you need is a pen and piece of paper.”

By using the antique machine, Kohler provided her patrons with a physical memento of their poem.

The pop-up poet concept offered a unique outlet and a way to raise money for a good cause, Kohler said.

The idea quickly proved popular Friday evening. Several women had already requested poems within the first half hour.

Among the early topics were Jack the dog, a love poem and the weather.

One woman specifically asked for help expressing her love for her husband. She declined to be identified.

“It’s private,” she said.

Dixie Weiss picked a less personal topic for her poem.

“I have the safe topic of the weather,” Weiss said. “Today’s a politically fraught day, so I’m sticking to the weather, the beautiful weather we’ve had. Even this week was so lovely.”

Weiss said she was specifically drawn to the store after receiving an email promoting the pop-up poet event.

“You make a donation for a worthy cause, and you get a nice little poem,” Weiss said.

Kohler said she was happy with the early response.

“This is exciting,” she said. “I can’t believe it. My heart is smiling.”


Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Audrey Kohler types out a poem for a patron at Downtown Dames during First Friday on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Kohler’s poems were written on the spot and based on suggestions from strangers. Kohler typed them on her grandmother’s old typewriter, so patrons received a keepsake. (Michael Penn, Juneau Empire)

Audrey Kohler types out a poem for a patron at Downtown Dames during First Friday on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. Kohler’s poems were written on the spot and based on suggestions from strangers. Kohler typed them on her grandmother’s old typewriter, so patrons received a keepsake. (Michael Penn, Juneau Empire)

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