BLOOMINGTON, Minn. -- Visiting the Mall of America is now a poetic experience.
MOA has welcomed its first writer-in-residence, Los Angeles-based poet Brian Sonia-Wallace.
After receiving more than 4,000 creative writing entries, MOA chose Sonia-Wallace as its Writer-in-Residence Contest winner.
Wednesday was his first day on the job. While sitting on the second floor, overlooking Nikelodeon Universe, Sonia-Wallace started typing personal poems. People at the mall are able to visit him and get their own poem for free.
"What's really cool is I think of myself... I'm just the conduit. I'm just the messenger. So I won't write for people unless they give me a topic. It can be just a word, it can be a story, it can be for somebody, but their the ones who are kind of the muses," Sonia-Wallace said.
MOA created the contest as part of its 25th birthday celebrations.
"Where else can they wander around and go on roller coasters and eat at great places and shop and then come across a poet who is willing to compose a brand new poem just for them? You can do it here," said Dan Jasper, MOA vice president of communications.
From June 14-18, Sonia-Wallace will write 125 personal poems on his $20 typewriter from the 1950s.
Sue Zaleskas of Eden Prairie was his first visitor. Zaleskas told him about her granddaughter and the second granddaughter she's expecting in October.
"He put in here, 'They say you'll never fall in love again until you become a grandparent, well count me smitten' and that's so true," said Zaleskas, tearing up.
Sonia-Wallace mentioned stories of people who have framed his poems and called them "mini works of literature."
When talking about poetry, he said, "It's something that everyone's encountered as kids, we still teach it in schools, but for most people that's where it stops. So talking to people and thinking about how poetry can be something that actually lives in their lives."
Besides dedicating four hours to writing each day at the MOA, Sonia-Wallace will experience the mall. On Wednesday, he said he planned on going on the rides at Nikelodeon Universe. It's his first trip to Minnesota.
A "Type-In" is being held Friday, June 16 in the North Atrium at 5 p.m. People can bring their typewriters and write and share their work.
Locations and hours:
Thursday, June 15: Rotunda, 4-8 p.m .
Friday, June 16: North Atrium, 1-5 p.m.
Saturday, June 17: Level 2, West, 3-7 p.m.
Sunday, June 18: SE Court, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.