Sidewalk poetry box wins more fans for free verse

"I'm still getting reactions to the article," said Peleg Top, the Silver Lake resident whose frontyard poetry box charmed readers when The Times profiled him in September. The business coach and life mentor had taken the kind of sidewalk box usually reserved for real estate flliers and filled it with poems, free for the taking, every week.

"In the first few days after the article appeared I was bombarded by poets from around the city, thanking me for spreading beauty around Los Angeles," he said.

Top, who got the idea from a friend in Bend, Ore., said the Times article "inspired others to start their own poetry boxes, from Thousand Oaks to San Diego." Strangers, he said, are sending him poems. "It's so cool."

"I've been surprised to learn how many people love poetry. It's beautiful to see that people want poetry in their lives."

The article also validated his poetry box, and he said he'll keep it going.

"I have a higher sense of commitment. Now I'm accountable," he added with a laugh. The publication of the article, he said, "pushed me to say yes sooner to studying and sharpening my writing tool, which was something I'd wanted to do." He recently attended a poetry workshop organized by the L.A. Writers Group. "Everyone" recognized him as "the guy from Silver Lake."

Top's suggestion for the editors of The Times: "How cool would that be if the L.A. Times published a poem by L.A. poets every day?"

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