Poet and photographer Tyler Knott Gregson is best known for his Typewriter Series, which began in 2012 when he stumbled upon an old typewriter at an antique shop and was inspired to type out a poem with it. Since then, Gregson has posted one typewritten poem each day, with the recent addition of one haiku on love per day, gradually gaining a significant social media following in the process.
He currently boasts over 310,000 followers on Instagram and over 43,000 followers on Twitter. I recently had the privilege of corresponding with Gregson via email regarding his inspirations, his faith and his creative process.
According to Gregson, he showed an interest in exploring a variety of different faiths at a young age. When he discovered Buddhism, its teachings influenced not only his creative work but also, in a broader sense, the way he viewed the world around him.
“I fumbled my way into Buddhism when I was about 12 years old, after my Dad returned from a baseball trip to Saudi Arabia and brought me home a book called The Teaching of Buddha,” Gregson wrote. “I was a bit of an odd kid; I loved spirituality and reading and learning more about different faiths from a young age, and when I found Buddhism, I was instantly home.
Gregson explained that he felt more compelled toward internal contemplations.
“I’ve always been drawn to silence, as well, and the internal world that seemed to keep rising to the surface of everything I did, and Buddhism was such a perfect tool to help explore that in myself,” he wrote. “I think if more people, in more places, practiced Buddhism, the world would be in a much different place than it is right now.”
Another key source of inspiration for Gregson is the natural landscape that surrounds his home in the city of Helena, Montana.
“The natural world has always been massively important and influential to me. Always. I would say Montana is responsible for that seed of wonder that was planted in me that never seemed to stop growing. I love living creatures, whether they breathe, bleed, grow or even respond to the sunlight,” Gregson wrote. “I love them all, and I treat them all with a reverence and joy. I think this comes out in the inspiration for me finding so much love in so many places. I joke, often, that animals are better than people, more pure and true, and I do know that I feel much more myself when in the presence of wild animals, than I do in groups of people...”
Gregson doesn’t really believe in the label of “writer,” but rather sees creating poetry and taking photographs as means of finding internal peace.
“Honestly, I don’t even know what being a writer is supposed to be,” he wrote. “I don’t consider myself much of anything other than someone who has a lot of noise in my brain, and writing and photography just happen to be the ways I can make them quiet awhile.”
One figure whose words played a role in leading him to write his own poetry was Walt Whitman.
“There are certainly poets and pieces of literature that have inspired me to write my own words, and I keep circling back around to Walt Whitman. His poetry was the first body of work that made me realize that there were people that saw the world as I did, that it was acceptable to find miracles everywhere and fall in love with the world. I still feel an immense gratitude to Whitman for that. I think I always will,” Gregson wrote.
Perhaps no one is more surprised at the success of the Typewriter Series and Gregson’s first two collections of poetry than Gregson himself.
“I have never written FOR anyone, only writing to quiet the noises in my head, and I never intended for anyone, anywhere to read what I wrote. I am blown away every single day that anyone cares to read it, that anyone shares it, that anyone pays attention. I feel fortunate and beyond lucky that people wish to see what I’m up to. I never saw this coming,” he wrote.
While some might imagine it must be difficult for Gregson to find the motivation to publish at least one haiku on love and one poem for the Typewriter Series on a daily basis, he wrote that finding the words isn’t difficult; Rather, it’s sharing them that is more burdensome.
“The motivation has never been the problem for me. I’ve always said I will keep writing until the words just don’t want to come anymore, and that is still true today. The only part that sometimes feels challenging is the physical routine that comes along with the writing... the actual typing, scanning the paper, uploading the photos to my website and phone each day. It’s not the writing that’s the tough part, it’s the logistics of sharing those words with everyone,” he wrote.
Most of Gregson’s poems are written in the form of direct-address. In other words, he is speaking to “you.” According to him, this can represent a variety of different people, both imagined and real.
“I think the ‘you’ has evolved, morphed, and grown over the years, and continues to. Some poems are certainly painted in the exact colors of real people, some poems are about the person that they will one day be, the person I will one day be, and some are about who I always knew I’d find and be willing to wait for,” he wrote.
Gregson also provided a description of his own mind.
“I always kind of think of my mind as this giant pot that a million ingredients get tossed into, swirled around, boiled, and then served out whenever I write or practice art. I never know the individual ingredients once it’s out of me, but I certainly know their flavors,” Gregson wrote.
Part of what makes Gregson’s love poetry so poignant is the manner in which it confronts our tendency to reject the notion of feeling too deeply when it comes to romantic involvement, whether it be out of cynicism or fear of rejection. For Gregson, there is simply no such thing as loving “too much.”
“I think ‘Too Much’ is a nasty thing that everyone treats as a curse, and as an annoyance, but I think there is a common thread for all those who believe in ‘too much’ and it’s that they are those who have never had enough,” he wrote. “I think the whole point of our time on this planet is to give too much, love too much, see too much, hope too much, and spread all that around, too much. If that makes me a romantic, then I am one, proudly.”
Fans of Gregson’s work can expect to see an even more vulnerable side of him in Wildly into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind, his latest collection.
“I am more excited about this new book than the first two combined, in all honesty. This book will be the most intimate by a landslide, as I was able to choose every piece that was included in the book. I was able to choose pieces that reflect how I feel on more subjects, in more ways, and I am thrilled that people will get to see a bit deeper into what goes on in my mind. I think if people liked the first book, they will enjoy this one as a much more intimate slice of who I am,” Gregson wrote.
His advice for students interested in pursuing a creative path is to focus on the area of their craft that most excites them.
“The only advice I can possibly offer is to find what you’re passionate about, and pursue that aspect of whatever art you’re choosing,” he wrote. “I’ve seen so many people wish to be writers in a generic sense, but never know what it is they are passionate about, and the words always stop coming. Find the passion first, the true burning passion inside, and then worry about how to display it, share it and make a career of it. Even creative jobs, highly creative and innovative fields, can become painful if it’s something your heart is not behind. Find the passion, then chase it.”
Readers can follow Gregson on Instagram and Twitter (@tylerknott) and pick up a copy of Wildly into the Dark: Typewriter Poems and the Rattlings of a Curious Mind on March 28.