Silver Lake poetry box wins fans, stanza by stanza

Silver Lake resident Peleg Top sits by his poetry box on Moreno Drive. After a few months of setting out poems for passersby, he has begun receiving offerings in return.
(Rick Loomis)

Silver Lake resident Peleg Top erected a real estate flier dispenser in front of his home and filled it with 30 copies of one of his poems. To his surprise, the poetry box was an instant hit.

“I filled the box on a Saturday, and by Monday they were gone,” Top said.


So for the last three months, the business coach and life mentor has been filling the box weekly with poems, some written by Top, others by his husband, Rick Hoyt, and still others by poet friends. Sometimes, Top said, poems just happen to come into his life.

“I choose poetry that speaks to my heart,” he said. “I like poems that inspire, that make us think and reflect. It’s like putting love into the world for whoever picks it up.”

An emailed poem isn’t quite the same, said Top, who was inspired to spread the printed word after talking with a poetry-loving friend in Bend, Ore., who was doing something similar.

“We live in such a digital age. Paper is going out of our lives,” Top said. “A poem on paper is tangible.”

The neighbors in this hilly section of town have responded; about 100 poems are now plucked from the Moreno Drive box each week. Top said he thought he was pretty much alone in his love of poetry, but now he sees “a thirst and hunger” for the art.

“I’m surprised by how open and outgoing it’s inspired people to be,” Top said of his poetry box. He receives letters, cards of gratitude and poems from fans. Recently, a couple pushing a baby in a stroller noticed him in the front garden and approached him. “We want to thank you for a new ritual,” Top recalled them saying. “Every Sunday night we read your poem together over dinner.”

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