Chasers of the Light by Tyler Knott Gregson
Tyler Knott Gregson wrote the first poem in his popular typewriter series without ever knowing there would be a typewriter series. After stumbling across an old Remington typewriter in a used bookshop, he took a page from the $2 book he was purchasing and, without ceremony (without even taking a seat), he typed out a poem. What followed was a love affair between a poet and an unchangeable medium. Gregson, a born romantic and self-proclaimed “chaser of the light”, fell in love with the honesty of writing poetry on a typewriter, the solidity of the aesthetic and its inability to be edited. He first shared his poems online to viral acclaim, and now a selection of them are available in his book, Chasers of the Light. The book comprises poems Gregson has typed on found scraps of papers as well as poetry created with the blackout method (book pages blacked out to leave only stray words that together form a poem), and traditionally printed poems accompanying some of his original photography. What looks to be a slight book is full to bursting with the hallmarks of Gregson’s work: the courage of love and the curiosity of life told through the creativity of the artistic experience. It would be inaccurate to say that Gregson’s poems turn the unremarkable into the remarkable; rather, he has a way of uncovering the truth that these small, inconsequential things have been remarkable all along – it’s a matter of perspective, and perspective specifically shaped by hope, compassion, and bravery. His words tell brief stories that dig into the old-fashioned romanticism of life, often exploring the nature of being in love – defining, through poetry, the otherwise undefinable emotions – but also unraveling a universe of romantic notions, poems dreamed up by observations and philosophical meanderings; an example of that aspect is a poem accompanying a photo Gregson took of a long abandoned track for racehorses. In beautiful language and with touching courage, Gregson reminds us of the romanticism defined by looking for the big things in the small, looking for beauty in the unexpected; the journey of rediscovering the remarkable.
There’s a saying sometimes referenced in the lojong practice of Tibetan Buddhism: "Gain and victory to others, loss and defeat to myself." As I understand it, the phrase instructs us to open ourselves up to our defeats, to expose ourselves to our faults with compassion, and to also be free in sharing the joys of life with others. I was reminded of this saying while reading Chasers of the Light (no coincidence, I'm sure, as Gregson is a Buddhist himself). The tone in many of the poems is at once self-focused, dwelling with honestly and acceptance on the struggles of the author, and also worshipful of the external: a loved one or a budding blossom or an appreciation for something bigger than oneself. It's an interesting contrast, and one that takes the reader beyond the simplicity of even the smallest poems into a place of quiet wonderment. In this balance of the internal and the external, weighing discontent with compassion, Gregson strikes some of the most profound notes in a collection of poems that evoke consistent inspiration and lasting resonance.