This week I enjoyed Walking Poetry in Arlington and Poetry on the Path in Somerville. Both added to my awareness of when, how, and where a poem can move people. I should post swiftly and simply with quotes, links, and photos that let anyone who lives near these locations experience poems that may be elsewhere in a week or two. The poems will last online and on paper, but the chance to take in the words through their temporary outdoor setting will soon be over. So here goes:
Walking Poetry In Arlington
Poet Jessie Brown and artist Adria Arch have collaborated for several years to present Brown’s poems in sequences of phrases spaced and paced to connect with someone walking from the title to the end. Each rectangular section has a nonverbal side with visual designs that relate to the ones before and after. Along the bike path from Water Street to just past Grove Street, you can explore three distinctive poems: “Hope Speaks to Me,” “Listen,” and “Why I MIss the Lost Trees.”
“Jessie’s poetry uses nature as metaphor so beautifully, and I am inspired by her work to create these pieces that require the viewer/reader to walk by each placard in order to read the poem. The backs of the placards offer a completely different visual experience in which the tone of the poem is evoked in color and imagery.” ( Adria Arch quoted in “Signs of Times,” Your Arlington.com, June 5, 2020)
For background or followup, read about Jessie Brown, Adria Arch, and earlier versions of their poetry installations.
Poetry on the Path in Somerville
The rectangular shape and size of signs along the Somerville Community Path are comparable to Walking Poetry, but each rectangle contains all lines of a complete poem or a specified excerpt. Twenty-four different “Somerville poets” are represented, but also lines from poetry of different lands and earlier centuries. Typeface is smaller, requiring time to pause and absorb all lines. Most are along a stretch just north of Davis Square.
For more details, see Poetry on the Path: Somerville Poets.
One poem, south of Davis Square, received a different and featured presentation. That is “A Small Needful Fact,” by “nationally acclaimed poet Ross Gay.” (from Poetry on the Path, featuring Ross Gay) The full poem has been stenciled in white text against the dark path underfoot. The poem is also displayed on a nearby post below information about Ross Gay. Read the poem at Poets.org.