The arts have their places, everywhere, inside, outside. Great buildings host operas, orchestras, plays, music, and dance. Even literature has great buildings. Patrons take out nature books, dramas, mysteries, histories, biographies, while poetry wall flowers away and none take it out for a dance. Outdoors, there is theatre in the park, bandshells for music, dance and other performances, outdoor murals, installations. Poetry is the orphaned gem of the arts.
To the core of my central inspiration system, I am a poet. In 1969 downtown merchants invited Cobourg artists to paint their store windows with water colours. I chose the largest window. My assistant painted the image of a woman with long flowing hair curling around the frame of the window; in the void I painted the poem:
I call you Woman
realizing it is not enough
and turn away
I think of Sister of the Sun
Daughter of the Day.
Wow! Poetry out loud at the main intersection of my poem town. That was the beginning of imagining poetry in public spaces. It was time to take that orphan out of the library and put it in places where people live and play. The other arts can do it – perform outside in the public domain.
I made poetry a performative art in 1976 when the Peoples Republic of Poetry attended the official opening of the CN Tower. A portable tv was presented to the Tower as an offering, a poem was read, then the Tower was ‘worshipped’ by chanting; ON! ON! ON! Security staff detained the units of verse until police escorted them out. That evening, national news broadcast the event, Birth of a Clear Vision.
In recent years I conceived of Stanza Room Only, a painted section of a downtown sidewalk inviting all to chalk their talk on the sidewalk. It is a legacy project by Cobourg Poet Laureate Emeritus, Ted Amsden. A group of poets posted love poems all over the downtown retail area and read them to passersby. Poems were hung from a tree in the Park celebrating its canopy services to the Town. Poems were posted in a downtown retail store as a Window Anthology.
Poems can be put in clear plastic balls in a bubble gum dispensary machine. Poems can be mounted on placards for public demonstrations. Poetry can be etched on park benches. There is no end of venues available.
The next project by the Peoples Republic of Poetry is the construction of a Picnic Table Anthology. There will be a call for poems from the Northumberland community of poets. They will be placed onto transparencies, that will be adhered to the table with clear epoxy resin. The effect will be poetry that appears to hover above the underlying board. The remainder of the picnic table will be decorated appropoetically. The Picnic Table Anthology will be unveiled at the upcoming Northumberland Festival of the Arts. Afterwards it will be gifted to Let’s Talk Books, Cobourg.
The Spirit of the Hills Arts Association is heavy on the spirit of creativity. They do not sequester themselves one from another but engage each other across genres and art forms. The Northumberland Festival of the Arts is a wonderful blend of the arts playing with each other. You are invited to the fun.
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I really think the town of Cobourg needs to name a street, or at the very least a laneway, after Wally Keeler!
Yes, Keeler Lane, or Wally Keeler Avenue!