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It’s a ‘G’ Thing: Bill Keys brightens up the subway by writing poems about anyone and anything

It's a sound you're not used to hearing on the subway platform.

“People stop and tell me what they want a poem about, and I compose a poem for them,” Bill Keys said.

His name is Bill Keys (a.k.a The Poem Guy) and he types his way into people's hearts.

“I really think people generally are hungry for genuine human moments," he said.

Moments that bring a range of emotion.

“To get poetry on the spot is something I’ve never seen on a subway or anywhere else,” Daniel Layfield, a customer, smiled.

“This is my first pregnancy and it just really means a lot to me that I’ll be able to share this with my son one day,” Victoria Mills, another customer, beamed.

Web extra: Bill Keys shares stories of how his poems have touched people

A sense of connection he lives for but not one he's always been able to live off. He was in Colorado when things were at their worst.

“I came out here to bury my mom’s ashes in Jersey and I was just going to be in New York for two weeks but I fell in love with being here my first day,” Keys remembered. “So I went back to Colorado to make enough money to move out here and that plan failed miserably and it landed me in the middle of winter a couple nights in a homeless shelter.”

Bill eventually won $5,000 in a poetry contest and used that to move here.

“I moved into a house where the people who lived there before left a bunch of things," Keys said. "One of those things was this 93-year-old machine, but it was in mint condition."

Web extra: Bill Keys shows us what he does with some of his favorite poems

His typewriter is his pride and joy, us older folks remember what that is. And soon, he will be showcasing his works.

“I’m working on an exhibit that is going to tell the whole story of what I call 'The Poem Life',” he showed us. "From this first poem to now, which is 5,000 poems later.”

Of course, I asked him to write one for me, about weather, and this is what it said.

"It's just a thing you have to deal with, door to door, apartment to subway to work. The thing out the window, unpredictable and unforgiving. If you can't beat 'em join 'em. The wise man befriends the unpredictable and uses charm to make it work for him and provide a smile no matter the weather."

You can find out more about him and how to buy his poems here.

 

Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi