In Fall-Spring 2013-2014, I planted several poems by derek beaulieu, Sandra Ridley, and Monty Reid in a nut grove (primarily black walnut) at the Kemptville campus of the University of Guelph. Each poet was given a row, give or take (the rows were not entirely even). I’ve described the impetus for this on this site before, but, briefly, this grove seemed to be a space that community memory had lost (if it had even had it to begin with). The grove is located between cedar hedges; to one side of the cedar hedge is a field to the east and a sequence of pine plantations to the west. To the north, apple trees at the far end and poplars (now quite huge). To the south an highly resonant forest, rich in a sort of ponderous quiet, the kind of quiet ellipses suggest. Accompanied, of course, by rustlings, sharp bird cries and chatter, leaves, things that move.
The grove is full of long grass that gets blown over in wind, communities of milkweed, batches of ragweed, and patches where bird feathers make evident the presence of predatory birds.I found it through an exploratory walk one fall — and wondered about the trees and why the small metal placards in front of them were empty. Filling them with poems seemed both an interesting and humorous notion; over time, the poems might get taken or drift or simply erode.
It is now fall 2016, and of those poems there is only one left of derek beaulieu’s. There are two of Sandra Ridley’s poems. All of Monty Reid’s are gone. One of Sandra’s has wind-drifted from her row over to derek beaulieu’s row and sits in the tall grass facing his poem. Her other poem is tucked into the low branches of a bush that I have not as yet identified. It’s not a nut tree.
It is time for a new series of poems in the grove. There seems to be more foot traffic there,probably because the College has a visible security presence that shoos dog walkers away from the two elementary schools that have taken space and directs them toward the unknown: “Just go that way, through the gate and across the fields, there’s lots of space out there…”. There is, but it’s shared by many species, and some poems ~
It was a brisk -19 degrees yesterday morning at Baxter Conservation Area; the tobogganing hill was looking pretty slick, so it’s obviously been getting a lot of use.
derek beaulieu’s poetry piece, Translating Translating Apollinaire, blew off its grey birch stand a few months ago. Yesterday, I replaced it with a new version. The first version, framed in cedar and screwed into the grey birch, had been placed to mimic the angle of the solar arrays beside it. This new version was placed on unframed plexiglass, screwed into a 2×1 stake, and leans over derek beaulieu’s bio. It will be interesting to see what happens with the snow/melt. To hold it in place — because the ice is too thick to get through, and the ground beneath, obviously, frozen — I have piled up snow and ice chunks so that the piece does not shift. During melt, the piece might tilt a bit – and I will have to check on it then. The ice chunks are roughly circular…
It was one of those things. On one of the poetry planting excursions, in a balmy winter period several years ago now, I took my neighbour’s dog with me – a lovely, enthusiastic, black lab. I thought she’d enjoy the hike – especially as an early melt had obliterated much of the track, covering it with calf-high water. I also took a young friend with me – he happened to enjoy water and frogs. I also had my cell on me – normally I turn it off, but I was a bit distracted and forgot.
My young friend set off down the track; the water up to his waist, calling for frogs. I kept one eye on him, as there were deeper sections farther down and I’d need to stop him if he got anywhere near them. The dog set off after him. I put down Jamie Reid’s poem to dig in my backpack for the mallet, and then the phone rang, and I automatically picked it up and turned…and the dog stole the poem.
It was then, of course, a game. The person on the other end of the line wanted nothing significant. I was brief, and hung up, turning off the phone. The young friend was getting closer to the area I didn’t want him in, the dog was now halfway down the track – and then my young friend saw the dog with the poem and chased the dog, the dog chased through the shoulder high (for the dog) water, still carrying the poem — and it was a madcap game for a bit.
Eventually, sodden, I managed to get the poem back. The marine seal had held up admirably, considering. My young friend had found a frog (unbelievably). The dog thought the he was holding a ball above his head and wanted to play. I planted the poem, toothmarks and all. A picture of the poem is here.
Many thanks to Katherine Forster for her photographs of the poems in a wintery landscape at Petrie Island. It was through Katherine, and volunteer members at Petrie, that I was able to plant the poems by David Groulx, Pearl Pirie, Roland Prevost, Blaine Marchand, and Sandra Ridley as part of rout/e. Katherine facilitated locations and planting activities; volunteers kindly built the ecology ‘display’ boards within which the poems are housed. There is more about planting the poems in the fall of 2014 here. I’ve posted the poems on the Petrie Island Poems page of this site; you’ll see quite a difference in appearance. It’s worthwhile taking a look at the history of Petrie Island while on the Petrie Island website – the Friends of Petrie Island have a good overview, as well as additional photos by visitors to the Island.