Have you ever experienced the joy of stumbling upon a street performer—the color, sound and vibrancy of a musician, acrobat or dancer brightening up an otherwise mundane commute or street corner? Imagine the excitement if these artists created something specifically for you!

With her typewriter in tow, the person we’re celebrating today has brought the delight of a random connection with her to strangers across the United States. Find her in the subways, on the sidewalk or in the park, say just one word—et voilà!—a poem, just for you, inspired by you.

This poet’s name is Afrose Fatima Ahmed, and she’ll have you thinking up simple ways that you can bring more joy into life.

Image: Afrose Fatima Ahmed sitting on a rock in Joshua Tree holding her typewriter!

Afrose Fatima Ahmed in Joshua Tree
Source: Bill Green

A simple way to brighten up the everyday!

Imagine a walk that you take on a regular basis; one that you know like the back of your hand. Every twist, turn, shop, and house are friendly markers in your mind. But, what’s this? Something’s different today. There’s a person sitting on the sidewalk this time, perched at a desk with a typewriter in front of them and a sign that reads “Poem Store. Your Subject. Your Price.”

You walk up to them and they smile and tell you to pick a subject. “Love,” you say, because it’s the first thing that always comes to mind. But you could’ve said “grief” or “fear” just as easily. You two chat a bit more and then they start click-clacking away at the typewriter keys. When they stop, they hand you a simple piece of paper, but it’s more than that, really. It’s a snapshot of you, right now, in this moment with this person. Somehow, they’ve captured it exactly.

It’s our instinct as individuals often to feel like we’re the only ones going through what we’re going through; that we’re the only ones who could ever possibly understand the confusion and growing pains we experience every day. ‘Tis the curse and blessing of humanity, I suppose: to be so utterly aware of ourselves that we feel alone in our experience.

But that’s the thing about Afrose and her poems. In that serendipitous moment you find her, you get the rare experience of having your own life reflected back to you through someone else.

And maybe, you haven’t been the only person to ask her to write about the same subject that day!

Atlas Obscura meets up with Afrose in New York City in this beautiful short video:

Isn’t that wonderful? Do you know what subject you would ask her to write you a poem about? Visit Afrose’s website to connect and learn more about her bespoke poetry!

And to discover more treasures around this amazing world, make sure you check out more from Atlas Obscura!

There’s something so special about the extraordinary things we can find on seemingly ordinary occasions.

Whether it’s mysterious gnome homes, a chalk painting on the sidewalk, or perhaps a painted egg left behind on a bench, there are ways that each of us can bring the same delight and connection to our neighbors (and ourselves) as Afrose has. It doesn’t take much to remind each other that we aren’t alone in what we’re feeling.

Especially right now, in a time where we’re so isolated from each other, surprise acts that connect us like this are so important. The notion that someone out there wants to bring you joy, without expecting much of anything (if anything at all) from you in return feels particularly good in this moment.

So, what can you do?

I think the better question is what can’t you do?!

Last week, I went out and hung pom-pom ghosts that I created around town to brighten people’s day, this guy creates intricate glass globes to put in places all around the world, and this one builds larger-than-life trolls in secret places!

How can we bring out the extraordinary in the ordinary days more often? When you think about the idea that most of us are walking around believing that we’re experiencing what we’re experiencing alone, what can you do with your skill set to be a reminder that we’re not?

This next article will help you find more joy (and spread it) easily every single day:

16 minutes

The Simple Secrets to Bring More Joy to Life!

Do you want to experience more joy? It's actually pretty easy to make that happen! Joy is a deeply ingrained part of who we are, and there are small actions we can all take to surround ourselves with more of it. Take a look! 

Read More

Stay open to new possibilities!

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  1. Atlas Obscura. “Musings On the World, In Typewriter Poetry | Atlas Obscura.” YouTube, 9 Sept. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8w6vpDWE_M&feature=emb_title. Accessed 2 Nov. 2020.

Sam Burns

Editor in Chief

Sam has written and edited hundreds of articles since joining the EWC team in 2016. She writes about topics from the wonders of nature to the organizations changing the world and the simple joys in life! Outside of the EWC office, she’s a part-time printmaker, collector of knick-knacks, and taster of cheeses.