Author Helen Keller once said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.” Juan Lli of Riverview would agree with Keller because the beautiful words he creates with his poetry touch the hearts of his poetry clients.
“I started to write poetry back when I was 16 or 17 years old,” Lli said. “I was having a rough time with my depression, although I didn’t know I had it. Writing came to me as a tool to understand myself in a way I had never experienced before. I remember I was chatting with my best friend one afternoon, telling him how I felt emotionally exhausted and didn’t understand why. That’s when he shared something he had written and told me to ‘just write.’”
Lli was born in Venezuela in 1995. Because of the political situation in the country and his father’s job, he and his family moved around and Lli changed schools frequently.
“In 2014, my parents and I moved to the States,” Lli said. “The move to the States affected my writing to the point that the first three years I could only write four or five pieces, which weren’t all that great, before I gave up on it. Early 2018 is when I got back into poetry after bumping into multiple videos of spoken word artists.”
What is unique about Lli and his poetry is that he can create a poem for someone after only speaking to them for a few minutes. He also creates the poem on his antique typewriter while they wait for their poem.
“Well, ‘Bron’—yes, that’s my typewriter’s name—came to me after a couple of weeks of looking for typewriters,” Lli said. “The idea of writing poetry on demand through a typewriter actually came to me thanks to a good friend of mine. She had mentioned how she’d seen street poets when she went to New Orleans and how that would be a good thing to bring to Tampa. I managed to borrow a friend’s typewriter and even when I didn’t think I could do it, I sat down in front of strangers, typed their ideas, stories and thoughts through my words and through the keys of that old, beautiful machine.”
Lli has written poems for people of all ages and backgrounds. He has typed out poems with Bron on various topics, from mustaches to watermelons.
“I have written poems for kids about mustaches, watermelons, succulents and monsters,” Lli said. “I have written poems for grandmothers to their grandchildren and vice versa. Love poems, heartbreak poems, food, friendship and solitude. I try to take note of all of these because they are meaningful. I believe that the biggest thing I have to offer is a human experience.”
The reactions he has gotten from his clients have been tears of joy and happiness that neither Lli or his clients could hold back.
“That’s the kind of thing I crave,” Lli said. “And the kind of thing I offer. I know my limitations as a writer, but I also know my strengths as a human.”
If you would like to learn more about Lli, you can follow him on his blog at www.juanspeaks.co/best-way-to-start-writing-just-write/ or on his Instagram account at www.instagram.com/juanspeaks.
You can also find Lli at Full Grown Girl in Winthrop Town Center, located at 11267 Winthrop Main St. in Riverview.