Artistry on Demand in the Strip


    Recently, while on assignment in the Strip, I was drawn to someone who had a small crowd gathered around her in front of Parma Sausage. I thought, “What is she doing—what’s the attraction?” As I approached closer, I saw the appeal. Here was a woman sitting at a typewriter typing away. I just had to find out more. I learned pretty quickly that I was watching a most unusual and creative event, one not normally seen on city sidewalks. Her name is Haley—Haley Clancy to be exact. And, she is a poet. Yes, a poet! It is quite a sight to see.

    With only her chair, typewriter, and wagon of supplies, this 18-year-old budding entrepreneur is all set to create her masterpieces. In a short time, Clancy delivers a cleverly written poem—based on a customer’s choice of subject—typewritten onto a 4×6 note card … for $5.00 (or more if you so choose). Not only is this remarkable in and of itself, but she does this by typing with one finger on a vintage typewriter, the kind you just don’t see anymore.

    Miraculously, a poem flows out of her mind and onto the paper. This she has been doing for the last two years, with well over 900 poems sold to date. I couldn’t believe my eyes, truthfully. My brain pondered the thoughts, “Is this for real? Is she literally making up a ‘poem on demand’? In less than three minutes? From a random subject given to her by a customer?” As a former English teacher, I was quite impressed. I needed to learn more. After meeting Clancy, I was truly fascinated—and, quite frankly, inspired.

    When asked what motivated her to set up shop on a sidewalk in the Strip and sell poetry, she responded, “I was tired of being sad so I wanted to make others happy.” And that she does, as evidenced by customers I spoke with. All were as amazed as I was. One gentleman from Virginia who had planned a week-long vacation with his family to Pittsburgh said meeting Haley and getting a personal poem from her was the best part of their entire trip!

    Clancy has other stories about customers. “One customer wanted me to write about ‘Peace,’ ‘Love,’ and ‘Understanding.’ He purchased them all on separate occasions on his way to work. He also came back for poems on other topics, too. I have roughly 20-plus customers who have come back for more poems. The very first lady I sold a poem to a year ago returned for another one and inspired me with her life story. She made me realize that I came a long way in just one year. And there is this family who brings their two young children. I write about whatever toy they have, or something like a dog in a pool. The mother told me that I brought their imaginations to life.” Clancy doesn’t just write poems for individuals and families, either. Businesses have also received her creations. “Mostly when I write for businesses they hang the poem in their establishment, or use it on their website and social media.”

    With all the poems Clancy creates, one might think that she actually has them already written and stored in her brain. But that is not the case at all. “Depending on the topic and if it is a common subject, the poems are sometimes similar, but most differ,” says Clancy. There’s one way people can know that the poem is an authentic Haley creation: “I start each poem with the word So. That identifies they are my poems,” Clancy points out.

    If you, too, would like to meet this unique, entrepreneurial young lady, or purchase your very own poem, she will be in the Strip in front of Parma Sausage up to and including the holiday season and into the winter months, weather permitting. Hours are 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays; hours vary on Mondays through Thursdays. You might also see her setting up alongside various food trucks that are out and about. And soon she plans to offer her services at weddings and corporate events.

    For additional information on Clancy’s schedule in the Strip, to secure her services for an event, or to order your own personal poem, contact her at: email: … Fb: … Etsy: a poems purpose … Instagram: #apoemspurpose.

    Denise S. Artman is a Pittsburgh-area freelance photographer and writer; she regularly photographs, and conducts interviews, for The Strip! magazine.
    Photo by Denise S. Artman