Best Local Poet

Henry Goldkamp

Henry Goldkamp may be known as St. Louis' busking poet, but he didn't write a single verse in his first major work, an anthology of sorts titled What the Hell Is St. Louis Thinking? A 26-year-old construction-worker-turned-guerrilla-wordsmith, Goldkamp got his start by hanging around bars in the Grove, banging out poems on the fly (for a few bucks each) on his 1957 Smith Corona. Last summer he was struck by an audacious idea: to place typewriters all around St. Louis, in places where people could type out their own thoughts. He borrowed and bought typewriters, painted some pedestals, loaded them into a pickup truck and planted the stations across the city. He waited for responses, hoping to get...something, though he didn't know what. Then people responded with observations, admissions, messages typed into long-form prose, or maybe just a line or two, or just the word "poop," repeatedly. Many submissions moved Goldkamp to tears, and those were the ones that landed in the book. "Today, I have love. Which means I have the universe contained in my tiny powerful heart," reads one entry. They aren't his words, but Goldkamp's book is a poem in its own way — with St. Louis contained in its deeply powerful pages.

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