get posted…on Vashon

September 13, 2016

Vashon poetry post

We heard that there is a poetry post on Vashon Island, so to find out more we went to the source: Ann Spiers, Vashon’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Here’s what she told us:

The Poetry Post, a cedar pole, stands in Vashon town’s Village Green. The post is modeled after Yakima’s Poetry Pole, stewarded by Jim Bodeen of Blue Begonia Press.

The Vashon Post was erected in 2006. Ann Spiers and Zack Krieger led the effort. Loren Sinner Cedar donated the 10-foot clear cedar post. Vashon Parks and the Village Green stewards granted permission for its planting in public space. Bill Ferris’s Raven’s Isle Woodworks carved the letters. Bill Mann drove his tractor carrying the post and augured the hole. The late poet Paul Motoyoshi offered a tea ceremony as a blessing for the Post in the gloaming at the moment of the Winter Solstice 2006.

Once the Post was in place, it was just a matter of adding poems. Some people post their own, others send them to Ann for posting. Some of the poems are recent originals, others are old favorites, and the posted poems are periodically collected and archived. Ann says, “To attract readers I ‘decorate’ the post on farmers market Saturdays and holidays with swaths of seasonal flora, like grasses, apple branches, salal and currant berries, tansy and roadside pea flowers, and dahlia and spring blossoms.”

Sometimes, “the Post is used as a destination, such as a memorial walk. Island poetry events are posted. At times, groups have stewarded the post in my stead, school groups, writing groups.” And the Post is gathering its own set of stories. The post is planted four feet deep with six feet above ground, but once, “someone tried to pull out the post using a chain around its base. The post stood. In yellow jacket years, the bees will mine the paper the poems are printed on, making a filigree of the text.”

If you’re willing to subject your poetry — or your favorites — to public scrutiny, weather and yellow jackets, Ann welcomes poems from all over. You don’t have to be an Islander. Pin up your own or send them in an email to Ann Spiers at spiers@centurytel.net.

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the wrong place for poetry

November 10, 2014

Mandeville, Louisiana, poetry box

Mandeville, Louisiana, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, might not strike you as a likely spot for a poetry kerfuffle, but good intentions in the name of poetry have indeed backfired.

We’ve written before, on several occasions, about the appeal of poetry boxes — weatherproof boxes stocked with favorite poems for passersby to take and enjoy. It was exactly that appeal that inspired Robin Hurston, who proposed a series of poetry boxes for the Lake’s north shore. Hurston, who relocated to Coquille, Oregon, after Hurricane Katrina and installed 13 poetry boxes there, thought the idea would be a good fit for Mandeville when she returned to Louisiana.

Initially received as “overwhelmingly positive,” the boxes quickly inspired rancor, not for their content but for their design and placement.

Read more in The New Orleans Advocate. View an impressive map of poetry box locations in Portland, Oregon. See a slide show of poetry boxes and sculptures by Ana Flores, “Poetry of the Wild.”

…And be careful where you put your poetry!
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photo by Scott Threlkeld

poetry to share

October 2, 2014

poetry boxWhether you call it a poetry box or a poetry post, it’s an appealing idea: sharing the poems you love with anyone who wants one. (We’ve mentioned this subject before, here and here, for example.)

The photo, from Walter Magazine out of Raleigh, North Carolina, shows a poetry box installed by poets Dorianne Laux and Joseph Millar in front of their Raleigh home.

If you’re curious about poetry boxes/posts/poles, here are a few places to find inspiration: watch the videos, Jim Bodeen’s Poetry Pole (and the related post from Blue Begonia Press) and Portland’s Poetry Posts; look at the Poetry Box page on Facebook (click on Photos and browse the albums); and see the map of Portland (OR) poetry posts. Here’s an L.A. Times profile on a local poetry box-er and an article about a poetry box installed in a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, park.

If you have other favorite poetry box links or stories, please leave a Comment!
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