Revisiting Discarded Post-it Poetry: An Idea That Sticks

Posted by melissa kandel on December 20, 2017 in Interview | 69 Comments

My friend, sob, and I recently reconnected over Instagram (hey, find me @melissakandel!) and it made me want to repost this interview I did with him several months ago. I publish this not only to celebrate our Insta-friendship but also in commemoration of his most recent milestone, hitting 20k followers! Enjoy!

We met in the most unexpected way. And while I guess great love affairs do often spring from the auspiciously unusual, I’d suspect none involve quite so much dog poop as this.

In the thick of Sunset Boulevard, just a hint from The Standard hotel, there’s a little dog park chiseled into a hill, accessible by two sets of stairs guarded at their very top by a blue-painted guitar standing sentinel at the entrance. Egyptian mummies are painted all along this guitar and on a warm, early morning in June I imagined that looking at the guitar was about as creatively inspired as I’d get while my dog sniffed around for the perfect spot to uh … go. Turns out, his nose sensed something I never could.

After fifteen minutes roaming the park, it was at the top of the staircase where he found his designated space for bodily relief—tryna make “poo spot” sound fancy—and that’s when I saw it. A note, stuck to a lamp-post on Sunset with all the crumpled-up charm of a bow-tied pug on the Fourth of July. “Hey Love,” the Post-it read, “You seem upset at nothing in particular. Yell at me. Really! It’s okay. I wont mind.” Then it was signed with something that looked like “sob.” (It was.)

Within seconds I posted a picture of the Post-it to my Instagram—”Who did this?” I asked in the caption—and within minutes was told the epistle had been inked by the gentle pen of sob. He’s the writer behind @discardedpostitpoetry, who affixes Post-it love poems around West Hollywood like a Banksy of the gorgeously written word. My own words could never do his justice, so let’s have the poetic man himself tell you about his work … 

Melissa: How did you come up with the idea for Discarded Post-It Poetry?

sob: The story itself is pretty unromantic. More or less a collection of circumstances—an artistic evolution based on consequences.

So, I wrote a rough draft for a novel last year. Just a quick jaunt into my mind that took me 10 days to write. I’m used to screenwriting so it was my first exploration into true prose; however, when I went back to start re-writing [or, what I refer to as “directing” the book (i.e. putting in more of a perspective, shaping characters, choosing the lens and color, symbols, texture, etc.)] I quickly realized I needed some practice economizing words. Essentially, how can I make one word mean 20 things every single time I choose a word?

That thought lingered in my mind for a month or two until I saw a New York Times article on Instagram poets. I thought to myself, “… That’s kind of interesting. I could probably do that. I don’t like the idea of just writing it on some app though, everyone seems to do that. I don’t see too many organic things. What about something handwritten? I wonder …”

Why Post-its?

sob: I used to draft texts or Facebook posts, lists and thoughts on Post-its quickly. Just an idea or, well, the normal things people write on Post-its. So, back to my internal thoughts …

“I wonder … what would it be like to find a crumpled up Post-It that was meant for the trash? Piecing together this un-lived life? Or the embarrassing (two Rs) thoughts that were never meant to be read? Or had been read and rejected? That’s kind of interesting … Maybe I can leave them around town, too? … that works. Let’s try it!”

So, I created the page. Wrote one. Took a picture. Posted it. And, off we went! It was originally called “discardedpostits” but for some reason I thought having “tits” at the end might be a little awkward for some, so I changed it a few hours later.

As a side-note, I also think there was something about the anonymity that appealed to me. Finding validation among strangers isn’t easy to do, so initially I told NO ONE about it, for several months. It was pretty exhilarating to have this secret site that kept growing fairly quickly. I could write anything I wanted and leave it anywhere. I could be whoever I wanted to be, which gave me the freedom to be … well … me.

How do you decide where to place your poetry? And do you have a few favorite spots?

Embarrassingly (two Rs), it’s mostly convenience. I genuinely wish I had the energy to run around town posting them in the craziest, coolest places, but the truth is that if I walk about 100 feet from my door, I’m immediately on The Sunset Strip. So, that’s where I put them … Some stay up for a week or so, but most are taken down before the day is out. The Comedy Store is pretty cool about leaving my sarcastic ones up with subtle digs at loud fans, and it’s fun to put self-help style, cringeworthy words of happiness next to a Ferrari in the middle of ritzy Sunset Plaza or Beverly Hills. Then, down by all the rocker clubs, it’s cool to leave some songs of regret, crusty and torn, near some recently washed pool, no doubt previously occupied by a pile of whiskey-laced vomit.

The worst part about the site, though, is that it’s almost pointless to put them up since 70% of the screen is usually taken up by the Post-It itself! And I’d love to just leave it on the sidewalk in a really interesting place, but then the picture is essentially just the post-it with cement or asphalt around it without any context. It’s a difficult balance to strike so usually I don’t really venture too far to put them up.

Favorite spots, however? I love Shakespeare Bridge and wish I had more time to drive out there to put a few up. I also like tossing them along Hollywood Blvd. next to some half-forgotten star. I leave them, sometimes, up Runyon Canyon. I also leave them in used bookstores a lot … There’s also an electric box on the corner of Crescent Heights and Sunset which I pass literally every single day—one that’s usually already tagged with some #positivevibes by WRDSMTH. I used to like to leave them there, but I always thought there might be some weird territorial thing and I didn’t want to be disrespectful. So, I stick to the Sunset Strip. Chateau Marmont, Standard Hotel, Sunset Tower, Eveleigh, Comedy Store, Sunset Plaza, Viper Room, Book Soup, Whiskey-a-go-go, Rainbow Room— which … woah, now that I think about it, is technically my “territory” … Holy shit, that’s kind of dope.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve heard about where your Post-its have ended up?

Oh what a great question!!! I was tagged recently by someone who had taken one off of a post on Sunset during their trip out here and brought it back with them to Germany. Other than that, I don’t really know what happens to them once I put them up. My guess is a street-cleaner just rips it off and throws it away. I’d be really interested to know, though, if anyone else has taken them.

To me, this is a brilliant juxtaposition of poetry and street art, with none of the illegal ramifications sometimes associated with work of that genre. Do you see Discarded Post-it Poetry that way? 

That’s very perceptive! I’m not sure if it’s legal or not, but even if a cop saw me putting one up, I’m sure they wouldn’t trip too hard. I guess it’s technically litter if I leave them on the sidewalk—but if I put it on a post?? Who knows. They’re so easily discardable I doubt anyone would put up a fuss. The real question is if it’s street art without the risk? (Obviously, I’d say, “Yes,” but you know what I mean … Some could argue the real risk and artistic integrity is tied to the illegality and size/scope of the presentation, regardless of the heartfelt risk one takes in the words themselves … I forgot what my point was… Yes, I think it’s street art and it’s sweet of you to recognize that … [sheepishly swats at the air and runs away].)

If you’re willing to reveal it … Are you a full-time writer? If not, what do you do?

I mean, yes and no. I went to grad school for directing but fell into writing out of compulsion. I was an English major in undergrad so I have those roots and it takes a ton of money and time to make a movie, where all it takes is a pen and paper to write. I’m currently trying to sell some scripts and get attachments for a movie I’m directing while working on the second draft of the aforementioned novel while also doing a ton of freelance film-related work. Basically, the old Hollywood Hustle.

What inspires you to create your poetry? Any particular authors whose work you really admire?

Everything is an inspiration. I get hit constantly with little thoughts that I jot down into Notes on my phone, then I’ll try to sit down for a few hours once or twice a week to write them all into a longer word document and re-shape them. In addition, I’ll force myself to write a dozen or so new ones while I’m there and have the time.

As far as the authors, my lifelong obsessions are James Joyce and Shakespeare. But beyond that we have the other modernists, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, W.B. Yeats, etc. I love the Romantics: Blake, Shelley, Wordsworth, etc. Let’s see off the top of my head without cheating and looking at the bookshelves 12 inches from me—Carroll. Pynchon. Mark Z. Danielewski!, Fitzgerald, Austen, Auden, Donna Tartt, (OK, cheating now) … Eh— you get the idea. Everyone. I wish I read more philosophy. Where was I?

You’re an incredibly prolific poet, nearing 2,000 Instagram posts with original work. What do you do on days when the words just aren’t coming? 

The words never stop coming. People have asked me about writer’s block forever—and I’m almost ashamed to say that I don’t have an answer for it. I used to joke that I’d kill to have writer’s block but I really do have enough stories and ideas to last a lifetime.

Like I said before, everything is an inspiration. You just have to enjoy following a particular thought to its logical, emotional conclusion. Look at a pen and think about who owned it before, what story did she write? Or the person who made it, or pulled the lever on the machine that made it. Think of their grandmother. Or their grandmother as a little girl. That time she found a puppy. The puppy’s relationship to the color Blue. It just goes on and on and on … Every one of those is a novel. Everything is a story. Everything is a poem. Just look at a pen.

You’re based in L.A. Do you think the eccentricities of the city have any influence on your poetry?

Maybe … I don’t know, it’s definitely a FASCINATING city but it usually doesn’t find its way into my work too often. I obviously have a few screenplays about LA and maybe a poem or two here or there but the underlying metaphor of Los Angeles is relatively played out. It’s remained mostly unchanged since a few crazy indie filmmaking entrepreneurs came out here in search of abundant sunshine and freedom from patent laws back in 1905ish. Nevertheless, since buried under that unchanged metaphorical mentality is a universality hidden in humanity, I guess it will always be a source of inspiration, since it’s been so beautifully framed betwixt desert and ocean, farmland and mountains with a spiderweb of tectonic faults constantly shuddering underneath it, promising to explode at any moment if we just stay in the right place for long enough, waiting for the right time to get lucky.

You write a lot about love (both of the lost and found variety), and your words seem deeply personal. Have you ever had an ex or current love find your work and realize it’s about them?

Ha! My exes don’t know about the site as far as I know—but yes, my current special lady-friend has asked on numerous occasions why I wrote what I wrote. She’s supportive though, and understands the underlying point of the site (i.e. embarrassing words that ought not be shared).

Staying on the topic of love, do you think love can be expressed within the space of a single Post-it?

No.

Well—yes. Just write, “Love.” That word alone is loaded enough that anyone can bury as much underneath the word as they want. And, on the backdrop of a crumpled up Post-It it obviously takes on different implications …

Well—no. Just “Love” on a Post-It is pretty fuckin’ lame.

Or, well, yeah, maybe just a heart…. No, that’s way more lame. And I can’t draw hearts.

So…. No… Probably not.

I realize you really just meant the possibility of a “Love poem in such a small space” to which the answer is obviously, “No,” unless you’re either delusional, juvenile, overly optimistic, being sarcastic, or just not a very good poet who might too-quickly respond, “Yes!”

But no. Probably not….

What’s next for Discarded Post-it Poetry? A book? A massive Post-it billboard on Sunset Blvd.?

I’d love to do a book of them and sort of always planned on it but I don’t see the money in it. I also figured it could one day double as an advertising page for restaurants or businesses looking to widen their brand in exchange for some free shit. But I wouldn’t want to be too disrespectful to my snowflakes. If I start putting up some bullshit like, “Bright teeth make me smile!” next to some toothpaste, they’d know something was up—so the poems would have to be three-times as good if I was to use it as advertisement just to appease both sides of the coin.

If you had to end this interview with a Post-it, what would it say?

“I’m sorry for writing

So much about

Myself—

It’s just that I am

Narcissistic and

My hands are yuge.”

69 Responses

  1. rysieblog
    December 20, 2017

    This is great!! What a cool concept, and such a great interview. Thanks for your post!

    Reply
    • da-AL
      January 5, 2018

      I totally agree, rysieblog – great post, Melissa 🙂

      Reply
  2. jessnwen
    January 4, 2018

    Nice post! !❤❤❤
    Follow my account and view my blogs😩❤❤❤

    Reply
  3. jaylenjairus
    January 4, 2018

    Awesome concept, and I hope it sticks (HA!) and spreads. Would love to see something like this local around here.

    Reply
  4. southernmomjd
    January 4, 2018

    So interesting and creative!

    Reply
  5. Alex50
    January 4, 2018

    Highly intelligent questions and great witty answers.

    Reply
  6. myweirdworld123
    January 4, 2018

    Hey this is so touching and I love that you feel so strong about it. It such a great interview. Also thanks for giving we inspiration on my next blog post. ☺☺

    Reply
  7. nigroskitchen
    January 4, 2018

    Thank you for making me aware of this. I have a book of poems published and so anything like this just makes me smile! Thanks krista!

    Reply
  8. Mishmash Media Blog
    January 4, 2018

    Haha what an unusual idea but quite uplifting. 🙂

    Reply
  9. anie
    January 4, 2018

    wonderful!

    Reply
  10. gsilvosa63
    January 4, 2018

    I wish I can be as prolific.

    Reply
  11. dennyho
    January 4, 2018

    SOB is blogging in a most basic format. With pen to paper he writes his thoughts for all to read, share, and comment on…

    Reply
  12. fakanal01
    January 4, 2018

    Good post!

    Reply
  13. cjhyatt25
    January 4, 2018

    I love this. I was in LA recently and this would have been an awesome little ‘treasure’ hunt.

    Reply
  14. 이자티 무함맏 리
    January 5, 2018

    How can you have so many idea ?

    Reply
  15. whatifweallcared
    January 5, 2018

    Love it!! Inspired me . . tonight I began doing it here, in Toledo, Ohio . . we’ll see what happens. . hope it catches on . . can you imagine these post it notes becoming collectable?!! ❤😇📖☕🙏🙌

    Reply
  16. heris252
    January 5, 2018

    Reblogged this on Cleaning Service in the Stockholm.

    Reply
  17. floristbandungmurah
    January 5, 2018

    Hlo my sob I like post is good

    Reply
  18. scottcollinsonblog
    January 5, 2018

    Reblogged this on Scott Collinson.

    Reply
  19. scottcollinsonblog
    January 5, 2018

    great post with some amazing quotes

    Reply
  20. Tayiba Saloojee
    January 5, 2018

    Thank you for sharing this post ✨🌈

    Reply
  21. Houda Boustati
    January 5, 2018

    That’s so nice ! Thanks for sharing ^_^

    Reply
  22. Scribed Stories
    January 5, 2018

    Catch up stories.Check out our blog http://www.scribedstories.wordpress.com

    Reply
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    January 6, 2018

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    Reply
  24. mydailynonsenseblog
    January 6, 2018

    I absolutely loved this post! Totally fascinating and inspiring!

    Reply
  25. Kiki
    January 6, 2018

    Just found this in ‘suggestions’ – you’ve got yourself another follower – thank you so much, as an ardent post-itter myself I very much appreciate this especially!!!!! You’re brilliant 🙂

    Reply
  26. subhamjhawars
    January 6, 2018

    Happy New year. This is just a small step towards reaching all of u beautiful minds through my writing. Do read my blog and help me improve with your valuable feedback. Hope you enjoy reading them And do share.😃😀

    https://wp.me/p91qFQ-4

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    Thankyou in advance.

    Reply
  27. saralakron
    January 6, 2018

    What a great concept. I hope someone takes up the idea in Chicago.

    Reply
  28. karennx9728
    January 6, 2018

    Very cool! I like this idea.

    Reply
  29. madisonmoffitt
    January 6, 2018

    Wow, I totally love this concept! Thank you for sharing this with us!!

    Reply
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    Reply
  31. thoughtpattern1994
    January 6, 2018

    Lovely! Bags..

    Reply
  32. Sophie Crossley
    January 7, 2018

    Such a cool concept! Wish we had something like this over in NJ, love hearing about such unique ideas

    Reply
  33. commaandco
    January 7, 2018

    Great! Shared a few brief points from the interview on creativity blog http://www.commaand.co, with a link to your full blog post. Will air in about 20 hrs time.

    Reply
  34. The Edited Read: Post-it Poetry | Comma And
    January 8, 2018

    […] Just came across an interesting interview on the blog “Little Word Studio” – where Melissa Kandel interviewed a writer based in Hollywood (self-styled as sob), who writes post-it poems and places them around his favourite walking route.  Here’s my quick highlights of what was said – see the full-length interview here. […]

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  36. dashaandthefam
    January 9, 2018

    A neat idea for sure. I like all the different papers (and even napkins!) that were used to write on.

    Reply
  37. apollinaryapoet
    January 9, 2018

    This is such an amazing idea, I would really love to someday find a poem on the streets like that.

    Reply
  38. thechroniclesofnaptime
    January 10, 2018

    I love reading your blog! Hi! I have nominated you for the Liebster Award! 🙂

    You can read more about it here. https://thechroniclesofnaptime.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/liebster-award/

    Reply
  39. mohan312
    January 11, 2018

    This is great. You have an interesting blog.

    Reply
  40. mohan312
    January 11, 2018

    Good continue to write more interesting articles on your blog.

    Reply
  41. savgarden
    January 12, 2018

    Definitely following on Instagram.

    Reply
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    January 15, 2018

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    Reply
  43. hermissunderstood
    January 15, 2018

    Nice… creative.

    Reply
  44. Crimson
    January 16, 2018

    Such a neat idea! Not at all illegal and very intriguing.

    Reply
  45. Destination Information
    January 17, 2018

    If I didn’t have sticky notes I wouldn’t…
    Remember my passwords…know what to buy at Walmart…or remember my parents names

    Reply
  46. richpickings23
    January 20, 2018

    I am new to bogging and was inspired by this idea….coming soon recipes that fit on a post it note! Thank you x

    Reply
  47. corinne williams
    January 21, 2018

    Love this!

    Reply
  48. Aashi Tyagi
    January 21, 2018

    Reblogged this on Dulce Vitae.

    Reply
  49. Susan Clark
    January 25, 2018

    This was so interesting. I would have loved to have discovered some Post-It poetry in the area where I live. I like the idea that the poems are on Post-Its and not actually graffiti on walls.

    Reply
  50. Katia M. Davis
    January 26, 2018

    If William Carlos Williams had Post-its, he would have done this for sure! Fantastic random acts of creativity. They really should go in a book, there would be a niche somewhere, or at least use them as give away promotional material for yourself. Perhaps several batches of 20 business card sized packs sorted by theme. Give away a selection and people might then buy matching sets. Or hand them out like business cards, poem on one side with contact info on the other. Or a free full colour downloadable pdf with illustrations designed like a photography journal. The ideas are endless!

    Reply
  51. freyawriteswords
    January 27, 2018

    Post it note poetry is such a fantastic idea, I really enjoyed this interview. It would definitely be special to stumble across a little poem in the street. The napkin works really well too. And I have always preferred reading handwritten poetry on Instagram as opposed to typed. Just love this, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  52. J.Gi Federizo
    January 30, 2018

    Reblogged this on The End Justifies the Journey and commented:
    Reblogging because (1) I like his idea, (2) it’s a nice interview, and (3) It’s Mr. Pinkoe for real! (except he loves yellow, it seems)

    Reply
  53. Life-Stories & Other-Nonsense
    February 1, 2018

    Inspiring… loved it…

    Reply
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    February 4, 2018

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  55. thebookishnook1123581321
    February 5, 2018

    Innovative idea. I followed the account on Instagram 🙂 I’d actually like to try it out someplace.

    Reply
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  58. sondradietsch
    February 9, 2018

    I love this idea so much! I think this idea works so well because he does not really know who might be picking the note up and he definitely does not know what the person is going through at that specific moment. Kairos to me connects to this because he puts them wherever he wants basically. Sob is able to use Kairos using the perfect unknowing timing of who or when people will pick it up.

    Reply
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  65. JPJ
    August 24, 2018

    Brilliant idea
    Great work

    Reply
  66. sparkleronearth
    June 3, 2019

    As a romantic, this is such an exciting project to see unfold. I’m inspired to recreate this in my own city. The line, “Essentially, how can I make one word mean 20 things every single time I choose a word?” speaks to me.

    Reply
  67. sparkleronearth
    June 3, 2019

    Thank you very much for this article and interview. It’s important to be reminded of the simple bliss of life.

    Reply

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