Allan Andre is a poet, musician and typewriter player. He describes himself as a lyricist on a journey and he strives to better the world through art.


Allan playing the sax while busking
Davi: Allan, you’re a poet, musician, and dancer. How is your personality expressed similarly or dissimilarly through these different mediums?

Allan: I feel I’m on a quest for lyricism across all of my modalities. This is part of why I identify primarily as a poet rather than a multi-disciplinary artist. This title feels true to me not only in the sense of crafting lyrical words, but also in the sense that everything I do has bardic play in it. I am writing, playing, dancing, and living with lyrical energy.

D: You’ve said that your instruments of choice include the piano, guitar, saxophone and typewriter. How does one play the typewriter?

A: There’s no intrinsically right way to play any instrument. I personally play the typewriter in a very similar way to the piano. I often compare the difference in touch between computer and typewriter keyboards to that between an electric and an acoustic piano.  A typewriter, or a piano, offers a greater depth of touch, and what comes from the instrument as a result is subtly different.

D: Do you have a favorite instrument to play/perform with?

A: I prefer the saxophone of late. Particularly the tenor. I picked up the instrument as an adult, 4 or 5 years ago, so my relationship to it is entirely self-directed. It feels very fresh. I’ve been playing all my other instruments since I was a small child, so my current work on those instruments is more about un-learning than learning. Playing the saxophone is a great complement to these other processes, because I am once again learning for the first time.

D: Which is more fun: performing on-demand poetry as a busker or performing music?

A: I feel like a parent being asked to choose a favorite child. These are pursuits of love, and both fill me with joy. I tend to rely more on poetry busking to make my living, because it stands out more on the street. It arouses more curiosity and respect, meaning that the short-term rewards- both emotional and monetary- are greater. But in terms of the time and energy I spend on each, and the long-term rewards, I’d say my practices are completely equal.

D: I know you use twitter to share your busking location; in what other ways has technology changed the way you busk?

A: As the years pass by, my typewriter stands out more and more. When I began my poetry work, it was still common to have a word processor in an office setting, even a typewriter. Now it’s a museum piece. Many people don’t even see my sign; they simply want to gawk at my machine. Some people take me for a technophobe and are surprised to learn that I maintain a website, use social media as you mentioned, and accept credit card payments with my smartphone. All of these web-based approaches have been tremendously useful to me.

“[Busking]’s made me much more aware of my personal boundaries.”

D: You’re interested in spiritual healing and growth. In your opinion, what roles do music and poetry play in this process?

A: As my fellow poetry busker Jacqueline Suskin (of Los Angeles) is fond of saying: “More often than not, a poem is the only way.” There are many heart truths which do not lend themselves to prosaic language. They often appear impossible to put into words at all. But a poem can say the unsayable. This paradox fuels all great writing. I’ve also begun to understand that there are vocal and instrumental sounds that resonate on a much higher spiritual plane than language or music. I am learning to visit these realms which exist above all aesthetic, emotional or personal concerns. This is the work of becoming a sound healer, which is something I envision as part of my future.

Allan's on-demand poetry


D: How has busking influenced your own spiritual development?

A: It’s made me much more aware of my personal boundaries. I can divert annoying people very quickly and gracefully now. The constant people-watching involved in busking, being immersed in moving crowds with keen intention rather than as a commuter, has helped me develop my ability to read and use non-verbal language. Having a transitory, random audience has taught me a lot about what people listen for. Most often they are striving to meet very simple needs… like those for reassurance or reminiscence. People want to hear something pleasant or familiar in a stressful environment.

D: You’ve also said that you like to perform because, in your own way, you are bringing calm to everyday chaos. Can you elaborate on this idea?

A: Yes, and this follows directly from what I just shared. When I enter environments of egotistical behavior, unhappiness, and discord, I try to channel waves of humility, contentment, and cooperation. I  want to improve the space. I consider myself successful in this through my busking and my presence.

D: Final question: what do you think you were in your past life?

A: I’ve had a multitude of past lives, many of them as a busker, actually. I’ve been a storyteller, juggler, lute player, drummer, and actor. In my most recent past life, I was part of Afrika Bambaata’s band.