Earth Day 2001
At ten a.m. this Sunday, April 22, 2001 an eight-foot wide by twelve-foot high "poem board" decorated with earthforms will rise from the lawn in Riverfront Park's Lilac Bowl as part of this year's Earth Day celebration. Artist and various post-consumer recyclables (shampoo bottles, soda cans, etc.) will be standing by as poets, clad in turquoise T-shirts and "poet" necklACE, begin to interact with festival goers.
Thus begins Visual Poetry in Action, a day-long event of community art and poem making. The poets, made up of masters students and alumni from Eastern Washington University's Creative Writing Program and one M.E.A.D. High School student, will hand out information sheets to all festival goers inviting them in 25 words or less to write down their feelings about the environment, the beauty of the earth and their hopes for its future. Select words and phrases will then be fit into recognizable poetic forms such as haiku and cinquain. Information sheets not completed at the park can be submitted later to Nelson by mail or email.
"To create out of other people's input is exciting," says Jen Reid, an EWU masters student. "The structure will draw attention. I think people in general will be responsive when they see what we're doing. It will help them look at poetry in a different way."
Over the course of the day, Nelson will draw from his pool of recyclables
and begin cutting out letters. The letters will then be stapled, nailed,
wired, or screwed on to the poem board, embellishing it, and merging spontaneous
poems with prefabricated earthforms.
And, as Nelson says, "We're trusting process and the creativity of the people who show up at the festival. We're acting as mediums to create from their reflections on our environment poetic and visual works of art."
Why art and poetry as part of Earth Day? Because throughout time these forms have been employed by people to talk about the things most important to them, things of core importance - in this particular case, the earth. "These forms employ higher critical thinking skills," Nelson says, "and create things beyond the literal." The result, he feels, achieves a "heart-to-heart connection."
EARTH DAY POEMS
Our names stand for trees
Why would you want to be a meditative frog?
Sun shimmers air to earth.
Ancestors in motion echo riptide flamingoes.
To pluck love, roost in rain
Blue-eyed river unfurls;
Pick up the pieces --
The tradition of Earth Day began in San Francisco, California on March 21, 1970. The following year, Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin declared a National Observance of Earth Week for the 3rd week of April as an annual event throughout the U.S. Soon, Earth Day was celebrated in every major city across America. Since 1990, Earth Day has been celebrated around the world in over 140 countries. Today, Earth Day continues to be a time to reflect on our impact on this beautiful planet we call home, and to focus on solutions to help overcome environmental challenges.
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