I rarely have the time and distance to reflect on the many threads of human and natural history woven together during public art projects that I design. This is especially true during the Poetry of the Wild projects which are now in their thirteenth year. This month, a fine and expansive article on Poetry of the Wild written by Professor Suzanne MacAulay appeared in the Journal of Literature and Art Studies. The article is titled Communities and the Poetic Imaginary: A Folklore Essay on the Poetry of the Wild Project. I am very grateful to Dr MacAulay for giving me that long view, she knows the project well from being one of the patrons when it was installed in Colorado Springs in 2006, to studying it as an art historian and folklorist. In the article she identifies many of the cultural parameters addressed by Poetry of the Wild including, environmental aesthetics, cultural identity, poetic sensibilities, communal creative actions, and sense of place. Reading Dr MacAulay’s analysis confirms the value of orchestrating creative platforms for communities to connect with their places in a reflective, affirming, and tactile manner. She also reminds us that at the core of Poetry of the Wild’s philosophy is creating an excuse to walk and reflect by having to go out and find the poetry boxes. Too often in our contemporary culture our engagement with the natural landscape is replaced by the virtual landscape. This project reminds communities of the simple and transformative powers of walking.
This month I also began the book project for Poetry of the Wild. Its time to bring together the many voices of place that I’ve been so fortunate to work with and learn from. Curating the history, poems, and artwork from this project will generate its own new challenges, long walks will undoubtedly help me in unraveling the thoughts and shaping the book.