meanwhile on Vashon Island

August 20, 2021

Back in 2016, we introduced the Vashon Poetry Post in a conversation with Vashon Island’s inaugural poet laureate, Ann Spiers. The Poetry Post is still there, and so is Ann Spiers, who is busier than ever, though Sandra Noel has recently been appointed poet laureate.

In fact, Spiers has a brand-new, full-length book of poems, Rain Violent, published by Empty Bowl Press.

On a recent hot, smoky day, Elizabeth Shepherd sat in her battery-operated, air-conditioned Nissan Leaf to write this review of Spiers’s collection, which we happened upon in the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber.

It’s not the easiest time to launch a book, so we’re happy to see that Rain Violent is available through Empty Bowl and independent bookstores everywhere.

hurry, poets

December 19, 2017

Add your poems of joy, resolution, dire warnings, laments, or songs of praise to the Vashon Poetry Post in the Village Green to celebrate the Winter Solstice, Thursday, December 21, 2017. If you’re on Vashon Island, post your own. Otherwise, email your poem to Ann Spiers – spiers [at] – to add to the season’s much-needed cloak of poems.

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

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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poetry walk

September 23, 2014

Laurie Lee Wildlife Way

If the name Laurie Lee isn’t top-of-mind among American poetry readers, he is nonetheless beloved in the Cotswolds of south-central England, where celebrations in 2014 are marking the centenary of his birth. Called “Gloucestershire’s most famous twentieth century writer,” Lee is in fact best known by schoolchildren for the first volume of his autobiography, Cider With Rosie.

His life and work were deeply influenced by the local landscape, and the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust has honored him with the opening of the Laurie Lee Wildlife Way. This six-mile loop passes through four nature reserves, including Laurie Lee Wood, and includes 11 poetry posts with poems printed on glass to offer a window onto the scenery that inspired them.

For more on the trail, see Harriet O’Brien’s “Laurie Lee: A literary landscape in the Cotswolds” and historian and poet Stuart Butler’s blog about his experience on the trail, which he recommends, on a bike, which he does not: “Laurie Lee Wildlife Walk: Lit-crit on a bike.”

For more on Laurie Lee, see Valerie Grove’s book, Laurie Lee: The Well-loved Stranger (Viking, 1999, out of print), which is reviewed in “The tragic success of Laurie Lee” by Robert McCrumb, with fascinating insights into Lee’s life and oeuvre. See also the Laurie Lee Official Centenary Website and a remembrance of Rosalind Buckland, the “Rosie” who inspired Lee’s book and who died last week.

more poetry boxes…

August 24, 2013

Ana Flores poetry box

We’ve written before about poetry boxes, which are cropping up in neighborhoods everywhere. The artist Ana Flores is creating poetry boxes “to engage communities with their landscape through poetry, art and hiking.” In southern Rhode Island, Colorado Springs and Mystic, Connecticut, Ana Flores works with local residents to build and install boxes that contain “poems about nature and a journal for public response.”

Read more about Poetry of the Wild and Ana Flores, including an article in September/October 2013 issue of Poets & Writers.
. . . . .
Thanks to Susan J. Erickson for the heads-up on Ana Flores.

poetry walk, illustrated

April 25, 2013

Gabriel Campanario, Seattle Sketcher, poemboxGabriel Campanario is a journalist and illustrator whose blog, Seattle Sketcher, is well known to readers of The Seattle Times. A couple of weeks ago, for National Poetry Month, his column included his lively illustrations of poetry posts, boxes and even a bench that he’s observed and painted in his meanderings through Seattle. Have a look at his April 6 Seattle Times post, “Our real-life poetry of the streets.”

To see other places where “poetry posts” are cropping up, see our earlier entries on Santa Fe, Portland and Portland again.

Poetry Post by Douglas TrotterThe warm, dry days of summer offer a perfect opportunity to…read some poetry. If you happen to be near Portland, Oregon, a great way to read poetry is to explore, on bike or foot, the city’s growing collection of poetry posts. We’ve mentioned these before, and now The Oregonian‘s David Stabler updates the story with a collection of reader recommendations for poetry-touring the Mount Tabor neighborhood, Northeast Portland and North Portland. Some of the posts display photographs instead of, or in addition to, poems.

Do you have a poetry post in front of your house or in your Northwest neighborhood? Send a Comment and maybe you’ll see it posted here!
poetry post by Douglas Trotter

poems in the wild…

July 10, 2012

poetry post - Port TownsendThe Port Townsend Writers Conference is underway at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. If you go, be sure to visit “Memory’s Vault,” a Fort Worden installation of sculpture by Richard Turner and poetry by Sam Hamill.

And when you’re rushing back to the ferry, as Sheila Sondik was when she snapped this photo, keep an eye out for the Washington Street Poetry Post, which is currently featuring a poem by William Stafford.

Portland Poetry PostWe’ve previously mentioned a poetry walk in West Linn, near Portland, Oregon. Here’s more: If you’re looking for poetry on the streets of Portland, you’ll have plenty to see. You can start by reading Laura Foster’s article on Portland Walks & Urban Hikes, which features some background on the city’s poetry walking as well as photos and additional links. Then take a look at the impressive Portland Poetry Posts map, grab your walking shoes, your umbrella, and go see some poetry!

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