Monday, April 28, 2008
The PoeTree Project
This year's Newburyport Literary Festival in Newburyport, MA honored local poet Rhina Espaillat. In honor of Rhina and the theme of poetry, I designed and coordinated The PoeTree Project, an outdoor installation of poems on trees near several of the Festival venues. I was inspired by an image of a folding screen by the seventeenth century Japanese artist Tosa Mitsuoki.
Students from the sixth and seventh grades at the Rupert A. Nock Middle School wrote poems on strips of tyvek with sharpie markers. They were tied to trees and bushes and were a beautiful sight fluttering in the breeze. The timing was perfect as several of the magnolias were in bloom.
In addition to the children's poems, participating Festival poets wrote poems for Rhina which were tied to the weeping cherry tree that is planted in front of the library in her name.
I was able to attend three of the poetry events: the opening evening with Dana Gioia, Rhina, Lewis Turco, and X.J. Kennedy, a breakfast with the poets with readings by members of the Powow River Poets, and the closing evening with a reading by Erica Funkhouser and Melopoeia: Poetry Recited with Musical Accompaniment with readings by Rhina and Alfred Nicol accompanied by John Tavano on guitar.