Creativity beneath the streets


One of great joys of living in New York City is people-watching. New Yorkers surreptitiously eye one another on the street, while standing at the curb, and in line at the bank. We observe parents and children, tourists, new lovers. We overhear conversations and are pulled in to the good ones—even if we don’t intend to. But the absolutely best place to watch people is in the subway. Every day, one sees slices of life—intimate dramas where the characters change at every stop; a pet turtle poking its head out of a handbag, someone softly strumming a ukelele in his lap, the way a child struggles against sleep.

Frustrated that I would never be able to remember these vignettes of New York, I’ve started to carry a small spiral notebook to capture what I see and hear in verse—specifically, Haiku.

I love the way this ancient Japanese form compels me to keep it simple, to concentrate on “what” I want to say rather than on “how.”

Two women, same hat.
Next to each other by chance,
They notice and smile.

It’s the most surprising exercise—a challenge and delight at the same time. Just what creativity should be.