Annie Baldwin’s Tour of Joy Begins

Dear Friends,
On Friday morning, I packed up my car, Little Debbie and drove to Mt. Vernon, Ohio. I filled my car with so many snacks and a heavy vintage trunk packed to the brim with all my favorite art supplies including my new loop pedal, my cassette recorder, my amp, my sharpie pens, my button maker and all the materials I need to make my rad kickstarter reward love potions among others. In the front seat, I wedged an old mason jar of my flower poems in between trader joe bags and a backpack overfilled with books. <3 

I drove Little Debbie like a wild horse who needed to run free- 70 miles an hour down US Route 30. <3 All along the car ride songs about joy and freedom played on shuffle by some strange synchronicity like my tour had a divinely orchestrated soundtrack of its own.

I stopped different places including Hank’s Truck Stop in Hanna, Indiana where I met Pamela in the checkout line who hugged me and told me she loved me after I gave her and her nephew roses with my love poems on them. She told me about her music- how she is picking up a guitar for the first time in 40 years and playing at her church this weekend. It sparked the most beautiful human connection and we talked about our music as only femme musicians can- agreed that it was spiritual at its core even if we believed in different gods. She insisted on buying me the best fried chicken lunch I have ever had in return. IT FUELED ME- got me thinking that these rose poems lead to opportunity. new friends. lunches. more goodness and joy in the world. but most importantly, they lead to connection. HUMAN CONNECTION in a world where we are so disconnected from one another. 

I made this video compilation of where I took my poetry: the east jesus nowhere backroads of midwestern america. 

Here is a log of where I shared my roses on Jan. 25th, 2019: 

*Dimple Donuts in Batavia, ILone rose to the donut-baking femme behind the counter, then 2 other roses to women rushing in for donuts to go, and one to my beautiful artist friend Marissa Harris who took me out to breakfast before I left on this big adventure <3 

*Hank’s Truck Stop in Hanna, INone rose to pam and her nephew who hugged me, told me she loved me and bought me the best fried chicken lunch aforementioned.

*Flying J in New Haven, IN- two roses to two sweet femmes there: one punk chick with the coolest piercings who held the door open for me and another getting gas station coffee with her boyfriend. I also left one in the women’s bathroom next to the full-length mirror and one next to gas pump #16. 

*Rest Area off US 30 East in Lima, OHone rose to a kind, old man on a bench named Greg who seemed to be waiting for someone while his mind wandered off dream-like. He looked like someone who belonged in the original Twin Peaks. I approached him. “Can I gift you this? I am giving my love poems on roses to strangers on my first east coast poetry tour,” I said all bubbly and joy-filled. He said, “that’s very nice, thank you.” I placed another pink rose inside the rest area on the opposite bench next to the coke vending machine. Then, I left two plastic flowers on the bench outside assuming they’d hold up in the cold or be found before it snowed. I noticed women from my car curiously looking at the flowers half wanting to pick one up- like they’d never seen anything like them before. But they kept walking and even though they did, I truly believe my flowers will find those who need them most. 

*Love’s Travel Stop in Upper Sandusky, OH- one red rose to a single mom navigating her children to their father’s car. She said thank you and held it for awhile as her children transitioned from one car to the next. I felt as though she needed a rose and a love poem. My gut told me so. I particularly gave her the stretch mark poem that ends with the lines: MY STRETCH MARKS ARE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS. MY WOMB IS THE SKY. I wanted to signify the massiveness of motherhood, the importance of what we carry in our wombs- be it children or artistic creation!  <3

*The last few roses I brought to a lovely yellow house blanketed in bright white snow right outside of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. I’ll be staying here and working as an artist in residence for the next month with Community Roots Ohio. Two pink flower poems rest on the living room table. One pink rose poem rests next to my bedside because for all the joy we bring into the world, we must keep a little piece for ourselves too. Sharing joy with ourselves is what sustains our work of bringing joy into the world. 

Thank you so very much to all who are donating to this incredible project. We have until Valentine’s Day at 8:53pm to reach our funding goal and I am determined to reach it in time. We just passed the $500 mark just a few minutes ago & I jumped up with joy. Share this kickstarter link wildly with everyone you know, friends: !! 

I am just getting started with this incredibly transformative and special work- securing this funding would mean my flower poems can come to life in the world and reach more people in farther places. Reaching our goal means too that I can sustain myself on my tour as I book shows and workshops with survivors from Ohio To New York, Providence, Boston and beyond. 

Thank you! I love you! <3 

Yours wildly, the now full-time artist, Annie

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