ideas we love

May 13, 2023

Members of Olympia High School’s Poetry Club (above) created a school-wide poetry installation project to promote National Poetry Month in April. Club poets wrote prompts for short poems on cardstock leaves and distributed them to English teachers, asking them to have their students write corresponding poems on the back of the leaves. The leaves are displayed on a ‘Poet-tree’ at the student entrance of the school (below, and behind students, above). Well done, poets!

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photos by Carolyn Gilman
good news courtesy of the Washington State Arts Commission

poetry and COVID

May 10, 2021

The Francis Crick Institute, in London, is dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Among its many ongoing activities, the Institute is running a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination center and, in partnership with Poet in the City, has commissioned 12 poets to help create an exhibition entitled A drop of hope: poetry from a vaccination centre.

As visitors enter the building (at the rate of about a thousand per day), they are invited to fill out a postcard where they can reflect on the pandemic and note their thoughts and feelings about getting vaccinated. They leave the postcards as they exit and the poets use these reflections to inform and inspire their work.

Each poet is commissioned to write one poem and the first four were unveiled last week, displayed on the exterior of the Institute’s Manby Gallery. “Of the 12 poems which will form part of the final installation, two will be in Bengali and two in Somali, reflecting the ethnic diversity of the people who contributed to the project and the community in local Camden.” You can read the poems and learn more about A Drop of Hope here.

We’ve mentioned Joe Nolting and Kids Need Books before, so we were exceptionally pleased to see that Joe is back, bringing books to the kids who need them most. Here you see him in the small laundry room of a large low-income apartment complex, where he admits one fully-masked family at a time to browse, select, and take home the books they’ve chosen.

To find out more, read “Rain Showers and Shower Gifts” on the KNB site. And if you’re able, support Joe’s work for literacy with donations of funds or items from the Wish List.

more from Spokane

April 27, 2021

Back in January, we mentioned Browne’s Addition, a Spokane neighborhood, and how it figured into a city-centric project of Spokane Poet Laureate Chris Cook. Since that time, Cook’s project, In the Neighborhood, has taken on a life of its own, inspiring poetry from neighborhoods throughout the city and yielding a video as well.

Good work, Chris Cook and Spokane poets!

meanwhile, in Vermont

September 28, 2020

When Mary Ruefle was appointed Poet Laureate of Vermont in October 2019, she probably was not imagining that her first year (of four) in office would be defined by a pandemic. (Or, for that matter, that her latest collection, Dunce, would be one of two finalists for the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.)

Each laureate envisions projects for their tenure and Ruefle decided to send 1,000 poetry postcards to Vermont residents. Selecting recipients from the phone book using her own quirky system, she sends poems that seem to have a particular resonance to the current moment.

Read about Mary Ruefle’s postcard project here.

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photo by Matt Valentine

more poetry on wheels

June 24, 2019

The Revolving Museum, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, describes itself as “a nomadic nonprofit cultural organization dedicated to the creation of public art projects, exhibitions, educational programs, performances and events that encourage collaboration, experimentation, and a meaningful dialogue between artists, youth, and community members.”

The Museum’s latest project is the Poetry Mobile, which is a poetry-covered pickup truck and 18-foot trailer that displays the words of well-known and local poets, artists, and more than 150 middle school and high school students. Read about it in the Sentinel & Enterprise.

More poetry on wheels.

a serving of poetry

October 16, 2018

The Poetry Society of America (PSA) has just launched Poems on Wheels, a collaboration with Citymeals on Wheels, which provides meals and companionship to New York City’s homebound elderly, delivering over 2 million meals each year.

Each season, PSA will select a poem for inclusion with meal deliveries. This fall, the poem “Autumn Dusk” by Sara Teasdale will be included in Emergency Food Packages, which are delivered to over 18,000 meal recipients to ensure they have food on hand should hard winter weather delay regular deliveries.

projects we love

February 21, 2017

Whitman, Alabama

Whitman, Alabama is an experiment using documentary film and poetry to reveal the threads that tie us together — as people, as states, and as a nation.

For two years, filmmaker Jennifer Crandall has crisscrossed Alabama and invited people to look into a camera and share a part of themselves by reading the words of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”

Read Kathleen Rooney’s introduction, “Making the Words Ours.” Visit the Whitman, Alabama, website, where you can learn more and watch the videos. Keep up with the latest on the Whitman, Alabama Facebook page.

calling Doctor Poetry

December 13, 2016

poetry bandaid

Here is yet another addition to the Ideas We Love file: in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the HealthPartners Como Clinic, “a doctor and a health coach meet regularly with two dozen patients to recite and discuss the works of great poets,” according to this article in the StarTribune.

Make sure you are keeping up with your poetry prescription, especially during the holiday season!

dial P for Poem

December 4, 2016

Telepoem Booth

Here’s another entry in the Ideas We Love file: the Telepoem Booth. Located in Old Town Shops, Flagstaff, Arizona, the Telepoem Booth is a 1970s vintage phone booth, cleaned up with snappy new signage. Step inside, select one of the 240 poems in the Telepoem Directory, and dial it up on the rotary phone to hear a recorded version.

Well-known published poets (local, national, and international), burgeoning authors, and schoolchildren are included in the Telepoem listings. An average of 120+ poems are dialed every day. Started by Elizabeth Hellstern and launched in March 2016, the project has just completed a second round of submissions for additional poems.

Plus, there’s now another Telepoem Booth — in State College, Pennsylvania! According to an article in the Daily Collegian, this one was launched by John Ziegler, who saw the Flagstaff booth when he was in town visiting his son.

Learn more on the Telepoem Booth website, on Facebook, and on the Telepoem Booth GoFundMe page.

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