Meet the man who is going to willingly spend five days living at – and writing about – the Mall of America.
Brian Sonia-Wallace, a Los Angeles poet, was picked as the winner of the megamall’s Writer-in-Residence contest. The mall had been taking applications for the gig since February, as part of its 25th birthday celebration.
Sonia-Wallace will spend June 14-18 at the mall, sleeping in one of the attached hotels for the four nights. He’ll get a $400 gift card for food and drinks, plus an honorarium payment of $2,500.
In return, he’ll spend his time “immersed” in the Mall of America, writing poems. His goal is to do 25 poems a day, inspired by the mall’s guests and experiences. They’ll be recorded and shared with the public over the summer.
The mall got more than 4,000 entries, which it went through and judged before landing on Sonia-Wallace.
Dan Jasper, the mall’s communications vice president, said it was his “interactive yet simple idea” that sold them.
“These poems, 25 each day, will be a unique way to bring people in the mall – especially kids – together for the creative process. And using a typewriter? That’s pure fun,” he said in the release.
More about Brian
— RENT Poet (@RentPoet) June 1, 2016
Sonia-Wallace has residencies with the City of Los Angeles … and Amtrak … and the Chandler Center for the Arts in Arizona … and the University of North Dakota Warming House. So he’s not a newbie when it comes to this.
He’s also worked with the National Parks System, LA County Museum of Arts and Dollar Shave Club. His first book, called I Sold These Poems, Now I Want Them Back, came out in 2016. He also really likes typewriters.
“I want to bring poetry back into people’s everyday lives,” Sonia-Wallace said in the mall’s announcement. “We think of poems as this elite art form, but their roots go back to the dawn of self-expression and communication. The typewriter is my hook – it gets people engaged. From there, conversations can flow that awaken the inner storyteller in everyone.”