Kimberley Chan

Traveling Artist Sits On Park Benches and Writes Stories For Strangers

This story is too cool for me not to share.

Petit Prance
Luke Winter aka Petit Prance.
Photo credit: Brian Luman

Luke Winter is a young creative from the UK. I met Luke while he lived in Montreal for a few years ago. We worked together for a short time, before he headed back to the UK.

Last fall, he bought a typewriter and sat down on a public bench in London. Then a person stopped, and asked him to write them a story.
Since then, he has travelled all over Europe and the United States, sitting on park benches and streets, writing stories for thousands of people.

He calls himself Petit Prance and hangs out in a random public place everyday. He has sat in a Texan desert, on the streets in New York City, on a promenade in Scotland, at a music festival in Paris, and by the Thames river in London to name few. He pulls out his typewriter, places a sign next to him that reads Stories While You Wait – Give Any Subject. And then, he just waits for passers-by to tell their tales, or simply give him a topic, and away he writes.

There are no limits to the stories. Luke has written things for people based on titles they’ve given him, poems based on stories they’ve told him, and stories for them to give their loved ones. “On my final day in NYC, I wrote a story for a not-yet-born child which his parents will read to him when he’s ten,” he writes on his Facebook page. “It has been humbling being asked to write a story for a foster child about what family is, to have been asked to write things that people gave to their best friends as wedding gifts, to have written a story for someone’s terminally-ill partner, to have been asked to write a story about heartbreak for an upset teenager in middle-america.”

Now, with the thousands of stories he has gathered and created, Winter is hard at work, hoping to share these stories with the rest of the world. He has launched a Kickstarter campaign, which if, successful, will allow him to publish a first edition of his book, Stories While They Waited.

I asked Luke to tell me about one particular person who inspired him.

“I get my typewriter out a festival in the French countryside. It’s the start of the day and two people walk up to me and sit down. The first introduces herself as Blanche. She is nervous and speaking in French and her friend is trying to translate. Blanche told me that a friend of her parents wrote her a poem when she was a child. Recently she found the poem again and was moved. She asked her Dad how she could contact the man who wrote it for her. Her dad told her that the man, who was a poet, had climbed to the top of a mountain, released doves and jumped to his death. So, Blanche asks, could I write a poem for her about that man? When it was finished, we read it together and she cried and I tried not to.”

He let me read the very liberating poem he wrote for Blanche, and I immediately understood how she felt reading it.

Luke has learned a lot in his journey and hopes those who support his book will too. “People surprise me with the depths of their emotions, their compassion and love, but only if i listen to them and let them,” he said. “It’s taught me that every person i meet is potentially an angel in disguise.”

Learn more about Winter on his website
Support Stories While They Waited on Kickstarter
Like his Facebook page
Follow him on Twitter

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