To celebrate its 50th anniversary, the Kent State University College of Nursing had a big idea. In collaboration with the Kent State University Wick Poetry Center and Each + Every, a Kent, Ohio, design firm, a series of Healing Stanzas writing workshops were offered, at which more than 600 nursing students, faculty, and alumni wrote about the nursing profession. Wick director David Hassler then connected the lines and stories to create a single poem, “Some Days,” that became part of a “walking poem”/mural, 6.25 feet tall and 40 feet long. Read the story and read the poem.

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catch poetry

September 5, 2017

Former Edmonton, Alberta, poet laureate Pierrette Requier has a name for the process she used to inspire the images for the new poetry mural in the Edmonton City Centre mall: catch poetry. The 30-panel mural, painted primarily by artists AJA Louden and Clay Lowe, combines Requier’s poem in Cree, French, and English, with iconic words and images that were generated in a public workshop. As Requier read her poem aloud, workshop participants wrote down associations, linked words with pictures, told their own stories, and shared their drawings. This City Edmonton/Notre ville/pêhonân was the result.

Find additional information and photos on Make Something Edmonton.

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Paint and Poetry

Congratulations to Charlottesville, Virginia, for completing a third mural in the Paint & Poetry series. The Charlottesville Mural Project is a project of New City Arts. In addition to the Paint & Poetry series, CMP has adorned the walls of many structures throughout the region.

The first mural, at the Starr Hill Brewery in Crozet (about 12 miles west of Charlottesville) combines lyrics from the band Hurray for the Riff Raff with art by Duncan Robertson. More on the Crozet mural here. The second mural, at at Charlottesville High School, combined student art and poetry.

The third, a large mural on the side of The Graduate Hotel, uses lines from “Testimonial” by Rita Dove and artwork by muralist David Guinn.

speak up!

December 17, 2014

red wheelbarrow, white chickens

This is a post about a mural, a poem and an ambitious idea that could involve you, if you speak Croatian, Kiswahili, Gujarati, Kiche, Lakota or any of the scores of other languages on the “translators needed” list: Mural Speaks! Project: One Poem, 144 Languages.

Here’s how the project is introduced by its founder, Ben Miller, Fellow, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University 2014-15: “In Meldrum Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a mural by Dave Loewenstein celebrates the astonishing diversity of a city where more than 140 languages are currently spoken. When viewing this vibrant artwork, conceived of first by children in the Whittier neighborhood, an interesting notion occurred — a joyful way of extending the collaborative spirit the images embody, as well as connecting people across the nation to the Midwest of the current moment. What if Sioux Falls citizens stepped in front of the mural one morning, each proudly reciting, in turn, the same seminal American poem translated into a different language — showcasing the variety amid unity that is the genius of the melting pot?”

Miller chose “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams as the project poem and put out a call for translators. While the list of languages represents those spoken in Sioux Falls, the call for translators reaches “across the globe.”

Here are the guidelines (directed, especially, to the novice translator):

  • Translating is challenging yet intellectually rewarding work, and all translators go through the same processes of doubt and second-guessing. Much of translation is about what feels right to you (the translator) in the context of the artist’s intent.
  • This is especially true when dealing with a short poem like “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Translating all words directly will most likely yield a poem very different from the original. It is important to consider rhymes, syllable counts, and the different sounds that occur frequently in the poem. However, capturing how the poem touches you personally is a chief concern here.
  • This work will not be published without your consent. It is for the purposes of a community event, and you retain all rights: use is strictly informal.
  • When you have finished the translation, e-mail it, including the name of the language you’ve used and a three-sentence biography (including your current place of residence), to muralspeaks@gmail.com. This information will appear in the event program. If you would like to participate in the actual event in some fashion, please note that as well. We would love to know if you have ever visited South Dakota or have family or personal or business connections there.

Here is the list of languages (Miller notes that Hebrew and sign language should be added to the list):

  • European: Belarussian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Estonian, Greek, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Shqip or Albanian, Slavic or Ukrainian, Slovak.
  • African: Acholi, Afar, Afrikaans, Akan, Amharic, Anyuak, Arabic, Avokaya, Baki, Bari, Bassa, Bhojpuri, Burundi, Creole, Didinga, Dinka, Erapice, French, Fulani, Grego, Hausa, Hindi, Igbo or Ibo, Jur, Kabila, Kenyarwanda, Kikiyu, Kirundi or Rundi, Kisio, Kiswahili, Krahn, Krash, Kuku, Kunama, Lakoka, Lango, Lingala, Luganda, Madi, Mai Mai or Bantu, Mandinka, Mawo, Mondari, Moru, Murule, Ndogo, Nubiar, Nuer, Nyambara, Nyangwana, Oduk, Ogoni, Oromo, Pojulu, Rafica, Ruel, Rwanda, Shilluk, Sholuk, Somali, Swahili, Tigrinya, Toknath, Toposa, Turkish, Urdu, Wolof or Senegal, Zande, Zulu.
  • Asian: Armenian, Azeri or Azerbaijan, Bangla, Bhutanese, Cambodian, Cantonese, Chinese, Dari, Farsi or Persian, Filipino, French, Gujarati, Hayaren of Armenia, Hindi, Indonesian, Kazakh, Khmer, Korean, Kurdish, Lao, Lergdie, Malay, Nepali, Oriya, Pashtu, Russian, Tagala, Telugu, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zhongwen of China.
  • Central and South American: Castellano of Chile, Kiche, Mam, Quichua of Ecuador.
  • North American: Ojibwe or Chippawa, Dakota, English, Lakota, Nakota, Navajo, Omaha, Ponca, Winnebago.

Here is the project timeframe as of now:
October 2014 – August 2015: Generate and collect translations
September 2015 – April 2016: Sign up readers; Publicity
May 2016: Event staging

To learn more, read Jon Walker’s article about the translation project in the Argus Leader, visit the Sioux Falls Mural Project blog and watch Nicholas Ward’s short film, “The World Comes to Whittier.”

Ben Miller adds, “the sooner the translations come in, the better!” So if you have something to add, speak up!
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books on walls

August 11, 2013

Circle City Books, Pittsboro, NC

A little light reading for your Sunday enjoyment… Just happened across “25 amazing street art and mural works about books, libraries and reading” on Ebook Friendly, “a site for ebook geeks.”
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Photo: Circle City Bookstore in Pittsboro, North Carolina
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P.S. A reminder: today is Poets on Parade as part of Auburn Days, in Auburn, Washington. There’s a stellar lineup of readers. Here’s the complete schedule.

the long love letter…

October 10, 2012

5101 Market St., Philadelphia

Whether it’s called the Blue Line, the El or the Market–Frankford Subway–Elevated Line, the train has been a central feature of Philadelphia’s transportation system for more than a hundred years. In 2009-2010, artist Stephen Powers and The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, with the support of the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, collaborated with 40 local and international artists to paint murals on 50 buildings along Market Street between 63rd and 45th Streets.

The murals, which are designed to be viewed by travelers on the El, comprise a long love letter, and the project is known as A Love Letter for You. Poetry in motion? See for yourself at the gallery of murals.

Steve Powers didn’t stop at the end of the line. After the Philadelphia Love Letter, he coordinated similar projects in Syracuse, New York; São Paulo, Brazil; Brooklyn, New York; and Vardo, Norway.

Bill Dunlap mural in Maryland
Bill Dunlap is painting barns. Commissioned as sole artist for the statewide multi-year project known as “Poetic Aesthetic in Rural Maryland,” Dunlap combines poetry and visual art on the sides of barns. Some of his murals are painted with fantastical creatures; others display more traditional quilt patterns. Some carry well-known poems (lines from Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” or David Wagoner’s “Lost,” for example); others use writing by children in the school where Dunlap is artist-in-residence.  Learn more about this colorful poetry project at Bill Dunlap’s website.

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