Poetry Vending Machine DIY, with Mary Oliver, Rumi, Anne Sexton

As kids we loved old-fashioned vending machines that would drop a little plastic container holding a treasure — a ring, miniature toy, or candy — through the shoot when we put in a dime or a quarter. Lately, various iterations of poetry vending machines have been coming to our attention, perfect for our adult selves. Imagine putting 50 cents in the slot, turning the lever and receiving an uplifting hit of Mary Oliver*:

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,
hopeless.

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

How cool to find poems in a repurposed cigarette or candy vending machine…

 molossus.com

molossus.com

And as we thought how much we’d love to make our own poetry vending machine, we poked around a bit to discover it is not that hard. You can buy a Toy Capsule Vending Machine for as little as $120, less if you get a used one.

poetry vending machine for diy

Then you buy empty Acorn Capsules

poetry vending machine capsulesjpg

…and fill them with poems you print out, fold and place inside…

bird poem anne sexton

A poetry vending machine would probably pay itself in no time, and perhaps make some money; It would certainly spread delight and good will…

Need poems? Just search our vast archive of poetry…

Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider

*”I Worried” from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

With thanks to Susan Dworski for alerting us to the poetry vending machine trend.

5 Responses to Poetry Vending Machine DIY, with Mary Oliver, Rumi, Anne Sexton

  1. sahana martin 04.18.2016 at 4:16pm #

    reminds me of arriving in the now (poem by Mary Oliver )
    and of the song i heard this morning :

    ” My heart, I wear you down
    I know, gotta think straight
    Keep a clean plate
    Keep from wearing down
    If I lose my head
    Just where am I going to lay it ”

    (Joanna Newsom, “In California” )

    ps . Need Poems ? sounds like a possible worldwide service ( oh wait, it is ; )

  2. Jeanne McMenemy 04.19.2016 at 3:10pm #

    I love this! The only part I don’t love is all those throwaway plastic capsules. I wonder if the poems would drop out the chute correctly if they were just rolled up and clipped with a paperclip or a rubber band. Or folded into small squares and sealed with a small adhesive dot? Has anyone tried any other ideas for poem containers?

  3. Sally Schneider 04.20.2016 at 9:45pm #

    I hear you about the plastic…All your good ideas might work. It would take either buying a Vending Machine or asking to test one out.

  4. Robin Buchholz 07.21.2016 at 12:16pm #

    Is it ok to make money off of someone elses poems? Do you have to get their permission? I love this idea, we don’t have enough poetry and this is a great way to get more out there. but would want to make sure there were no legal issues.

  5. Sally Schneider 07.21.2016 at 12:57pm #

    You make an excellent point. No doubt you WOULD have to get permission for poems still in copyright. Out of copyright material I believe would be okay, which includes A LOT of wonderful poetry, including Emily Dickinson, Rumi and the great old haiku guys. Thanks!

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