Who is Franki Elliot? Franki Elliot is a woman with a typewriter and a vision.
I first came across Miss Elliot through mutual friends on Facebook. I was putzing around one day, scrolling through the newsfeed, when I came across a very beautiful poem written by her. The aesthetic was simple: Courier font on a piece of legal paper. The poems are tender and nostalgic, and are often infused with quirky charm and humor–Franki Elliot’s signature. I visited her Facebook profile after reading a slew of magnificent poems and discovered her page on Etsy where she charges $15 for a customized poem or story. It’s both a remarkably intimate thing to do, and wonderfully innovative. (You can buy them here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TypewriterStories)
The concept behind Typewriter Poems and Stories is simple: email Franki Elliot your situation or what you want to convey, and she’ll type out the poem lovingly on her turquoise Smith Corona Corsair Deluxe (pictured).
I was lucky enough to interview Franki Elliot and ask her about the thought process behind Typewriter Stories and Poems. Her fascinating answers and love of typewriters are sure to make you smile.
What inspired you to start doing Typewriter Poems and Typewriter Stories? I got tired of writing about myself. My first book I published (Piano Rats) was so wildly personal that I wanted to write about something other than myself. So one day I looked on craigslist, and two hours later I met a chic, artsy girl at Dunkin Donuts and left with a turquoise typewriter.
I posted on facebook that I was looking for volunteers and/or victims. Who wanted me to write a story about them? The catch was, I could write whatever I wanted about them, be as honest as I tend to be, and I would only do one draft and there would be typos.
I was surprised when about 50 people asked me for stories. I lost track of all the requests, there were so many. A lot of people I barely knew requested them so I started asking for topics instead to make it easier. Then I just went from there and started doing them on the spot for strangers wherever I could. You just never know what you will end up writing about, which is exciting. It activates memories and ideas in your brain that you can’t reach on your own.
Who are your favorite kinds of people? People who aren’t afraid to say what they mean, what they want, what they need, and who they are.
What do you love most about typewriters? Do you prefer Underwood or Corona?
The best thing about a typewriter is that there is no backspace. You just have to keep moving forward, past any mistakes you made. It’s very much like life.
My first typewriter was a classic Underwood No. 5 from the 1900s that was given to me as a gift. I used to say I would only use it to type love letters. It was so massive and industrial, you really had to put your weight into it to get the words out.
When I moved to LA this fall, my Underwood was too heavy to bring with so an old friend took it off my hands. Her family had just purchased Hemingway’s childhood home in Evanston, IL and it now rests in his old bedroom. I can’t think of a better place for it.
My weapon of choice, though, is my Smith Corona Corsair Deluxe. It is turquoise and portable and has never failed me.
What is your favorite word and why?
Saudade. I almost got it tattooed to my arm this summer. A lot of strangers request the topic “nostalgia.” And I always write about Saudade. It’s means longing for something that doesn’t or cannot exist. When I first learned about that word, I felt like I had been searching for it my whole life.
Who is your favorite writer? Richard Brautigan. If you are lucky enough to stumble upon his books at used bookstore, pick one up immediately. In Watermelon Sugar is like no other book I’ve read. It’s absolutely perfect.
If you were a season, which season would you be? Spring because it has the capacity to instill hope and happiness in everyone. I hope to do that one day with my writing.
If you could go back in time to meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet and why? I would like to meet Sylvia Plath and ask her why she was SO sad.
What are your dreams and aspirations? I want to write something really and truly beautiful. I also want to have an entire room of typewriters.
What provokes you? Parking tickets!
What inspires you more: food, music, wine or books?
Books have the ability to turn on that switch inside of me that is a writer. If I am in the middle of reading a good book, my day to day thoughts turn into an ongoing narration. Every thought is a poem or story. It is very nice (and maddening) when you’re ON and very bland when you’re OFF.
What is your favorite quote and why? “The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful…” -Milan Kundera
Poetic memory is something I think about a lot. Those moments in our lives that we can never forget, the moments that haunt us in a beautiful way.
What brings you joy? A hot cup of tea, flower shops, typewriters in outrageous colors, love that is impossible to understand but exists nonetheless.
Photocredit Stephanie Bassos.
Franki Elliott is willing to do a give away of a typewriter story or a copy of Piano Rats as well to readers.
Filed under: Interviews