Norwich University: Poetry Posts Art Walk

In the words of Laura Foster, “A poetry post (or poetry pole, or poetry box) is a wooden pole, usually mounted on private property, so that it faces pedestrians. On top of the pole is a box, with a glass or clear face and a lid. Inside the box is a sheet of paper containing a poem.”

Tomorrow morning at 10 am in Chaplin Hall, Norwich University visual design students will begin a walking presentation on their exhibition of poetry posts. Twenty-four students have created posts inspired by a wide range of poems — works by Pablo Neruda, Theodore Roethke, J.R.R. Tolkien, and more.

You can see the posts through May 1 as part of PoemCampus at Norwich.

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Poems and Their Locations

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We will be displaying 391 poems this year.  Our poets sent their creative work from all corners of Vermont: Saxtons River to Lincoln to Passumpsic to Adamant. Want to know where your poem will be displayed?

Here are the poems.

Above: Moxie, a young critic examines a 2014 offering with her mother, Carrie. (courtesy of Tawnya Kristen)

Bringing Norwich to Montpelier

Enriching the study of poetry for students in our community is one of the rewards we receive from organizing PoemCity each year. In 2013, we are happy to have been able to feature the writings of students from Norwich University in nearby Northfield.

Montpelier and the Central Vermont region is host to generations of Norwich alumni and so this partnership seemed a natural fit.

Norwich, the nation’s oldest private military college, is known for programs such as engineering and nursing, but not so much for creative writing—yet! This month though, poetry was a very much a part of their campus life.

Ivelliam Ceballo wrote THIS ARTICLE for the NU campus newspaper about how the students are approaching poetry study. Yesterday, poet Major Jackson visited the campus to work with the students and offer a reading on the campus.

Professor Sean Prentiss sent me this note recently:

Last week, two creative writing classes from Norwich University visited Montpelier to enjoy PoemCity. This group of 25 students started out by reading the poems they submitted to PoemCity. These poems are all on display at the Vermont Center for Independent Living (11 E. State St).

From there, the students and I, wandered State and Main Streets reading poems in the light rain and talking about which poems were their favorites. The students were excited to see their poems on display and to see an entire city devoted to poetry for one month.

Sean Prentiss’s poem “Electrons Pushing Against Electrons” is on display at Capitol Stationers.

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Student Poets Take Part in PoemCity by Ivelliam Ceballo

Photos are courtesy of Sean Prentiss.

PoemCity Social at Goddard Art Gallery

You’re invited!

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Friday, April 26 at 7:00 pm

A PoemCity 2013 salute! Come to the art gallery to celebrate art and poetry and to meet the artists of “The Nature of Things” exhibit. 
From April 5 – May 11, 2013, there are seven artists creating an installation at the Goddard Art Gallery at 54 Main in Montpelier.

Gallery hours are Weds.-Thurs. 12-5pm, Fri. & Sat. 12-7pm.

The artists include:

International artist Thea Alvin, the curator of “The Nature of Things”
Khara Ledonne
Forrest White: Stone and Wood
Robyn Alvin: Photography
Gowri Savoor
Bruce Hathaway
Michael Clookey: Masonry

Pausing for Poetry

Last week, I was standing at the corner of State and Main waiting for the walk signal. I was in a rush to somewhere, but since I had just missed the last walk signal, I decided to turn around and read one of the poems hanging in the window of Coffee Corner. I read “Blending with Light” by Marjorie Ryerson. As I read each line, paying attention to the images and ideas being described, my pulse slowed and I relaxed. I had paused because that is what poetry asks you to do.

Unlike most other activities in our fast-paced culture, poetry asks you to pause; to pay to the pictures, feelings, and thoughts that the poet is carefully describing.  That is part of the reason why PoemCity is such a gift; having hundreds of poems posted in storefronts throughout downtown Montpelier gives us the opportunity to pause during our otherwise busy day. While we are running our errands, walking to work, or strolling downtown, we have an opportunity to stop for 60 seconds, read a poem, and potentially shift our entire perspective.

Last week, I made a pact with myself that every time I was walking through downtown, I would read two poems.  Since I live and work right downtown, I haven’t stuck with this pact completely, but I have probably read 20 plus poems. Every one of these poems has forced me to pause.

StoryWalk®

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Last week I helped Anne Ferguson, creator of the StoryWalk® Project, install Mary Had A Little Lamp around the outside of the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. It has about 30 pages, just enough to circle the entire building and is an entertaining read. I encourage anyone who happens to be walking by, young or old, to take a few minutes to read the story of Mary and her lamp. 

The Revolution of Poetry

Amy Trafford from Onion River Kids did a poetry-inspired story-time last Sunday. While preparing, she shared with me her observations and thoughts about PoemCity and the Revolution of Poetry.  I was so moved that I  asked her to write it up so I could share it with all of you. Here it is.

So many times I have been inside the store this month and done a double- take as I watch people on the sidewalk, staring into our window for a very long time. It wasn’t until I saw a man’s lips moving and a child standing beside him, looking up with unblinking eyes, that I realized they were all reading the incredible poems that kid’s throughout Vermont wrote and are displayed in our windows.

It might sound dramatic, but it feels like a revolution.

As someone who has loved poetry my whole life, and who, as a young adult, felt like a bit of an outcast for that (okay, what young adult doesn’t feel like an outcast, but still.) I am profoundly moved as I walk through Montpelier and see poems everywhere. To read the poems and feel them, my heart opens and flowers with feeling. I get to know myself in a whole new way, thanks to the revolution of poetry.

-Amy Trafford