There once was a writer from L.A.
Who typed poems by the Rainforest Café.
Retail verse he’ll dispense.
As MOA writer-in-residence.
To commemorate the megamall’s birthday.
That’s the fate of Brian Sonia-Wallace, the new writer-in-residence for the Mall of America.
The gigantic shopping and entertainment complex announced Thursday that Sonia-Wallace is the winner of its writer-in-residence contest, beating out more than 4,000 entries for the chance to stay at a mall-attached hotel for four nights, spend a $400 gift card at the food court and take home a $2,500 honorarium.
In return, Sonia-Wallace has promised to crank out 125 shopper-inspired poems, 25 each day for five days, on a typewriter at the mall from June 14-18. The poems will be recorded and shared with the public over the summer to celebrate the mall’s 25th birthday in August.
Sonia-Wallace, who will celebrate his own 28th birthday during his residency, described the mall as “a repository of our collective desires.”
He said he’s excited to see what kind of poetry is inspired by the mall’s “boundless fulfillment of needs and wants.”
Sonia-Wallace said he expects to bang out each poem in five to 10 minutes based on chance interactions and conversations with people at the mall. The shoppers will get to take home the original copy of the poem.
Sonia-Wallace is a veteran of unusual writer-in-residence experiences as the 2016/17 Amtrak Writer-in-Residence and Artist-in-Residence for the City of Los Angeles. He has also been an artist-in-residence for the National Parks System, a performance artist at the LA County Museum of Contemporary Art and a resident poet for Dollar Shave Club.
Known as the RENT Poet, Sonia-Wallace bills himself as a “poet for hire,” who in 2014 took on a challenge to pay his rent only using money he made writing poetry. He has written and performed commissioned poetry on the spot using a manual typewriter at venues including tech corporations, celebrity weddings and an ice skating warming house in North Dakota.