How much do Oregonians love poetry? Let us count the ways … .
Here it is April, National Poetry Month, and Portland writer and poet Dave Jarecki is posting a poem a day at www.davejarecki.com — many from poets who live in the state or have ties to the Pacific Northwest.
After a three-year hiatus, the Literary Arts and TriMet program Poetry in Motion has returned with eight new poems to be posted on buses. Three were penned by Oregon Book Award finalists, three were chosen by a public vote, and two were written by Portland high school students involved in the organization’s Writers in the Schools program.
The Oregon State Library recently expanded its Oregon Poetry Collection by 159 titles from the estate of Vi Gale, a Portland publisher and poet, and from Great Northwest Books when it closed last year. The Kinsman Foundation paid for the acquisition, which includes first editions of collections by C.E.S. Wood, H.L. Davis, Mary Barnard and others.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski is expected to name a new state poet laureate soon to replace outgoing Poet Laureate Lawson Inada.
But you don’t have to be the laureate to promote poetry. Consider the poetry posts sprouting in neighborhoods like Sellwood, Alameda, Irvington, Argay and Multnomah Village.
Handyman Doug Trotter was asked by a friend last year to erect a post along the sidewalk of her Klickitat Street home similar to one she had seen while walking on Alameda Street in Northeast Portland. Trotter installed a cedar post set in concrete, put a box on its side big enough to hold a poem behind a clear acrylic window and topped it with a decorative copper lid. His friend wanted to surprise her husband with the post as a wedding anniversary gift, but when the husband returned from a business trip he saw the post from a distance and thought she’d put the house up for sale.
Since then, passers-by have left an origami crane on the post, left self-published books of poetry and asked who made it. Trotter, who charges between $100 and $200 to install a post, set out business cards and soon had five new customers — enough, he thought, to build a Web site atwww.poetryposts.com.
Ricki Casciato picked up one of his cards on a walk and ordered a post. Hers may be the first in her Argay neighborhood, and though she has owned it only a few months, she sees neighbors crossing the street to take a peek. So far, she changes the poems a few times a month. Because she has a blooming cherry in her yard, she thought a poem about a cherry tree would be nice for the time being, an ode, you might say, to spring.
Larry Bingham: 503-221-8262