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 ~
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.
& there was angela rawlings’ “The Great Canadian”, propped up, as it had been before, fronting a frame containing various types of garbage, from tires to a bit of carpet. Someone, or some people, are stewards of the trail poem. Jan. 2015. It’s perfect.
January 1, 2015 – and not too long before I’m internationally based – so rout/e may adopt a different landscape for awhile. In the meantime, over this month, I have a few sites to check: yesterday returned to Baxter Conservation Area to revise derek beaulieu’s piece, or the absence thereof. Have taken measurements and will be adjusting the installation to accommodate my upcoming absence (can’t check on it when I’m gone) and also the varying temperatures and climate conditions that occur in the winter/spring here. Flooding…. a rawlings’ piece, “I will not ruin the environment”, is the last one of the series that I initially started. The others have all been taken or moved to places unknown to me. A short description of it can be found if you follow the arawlings link. It seemed fitting to check on it today – I’m thinking it is cold enough that the puddles that overtake the track will be frozen. angela’s piece (which I’d checked on in the summer) had fallen face up in a puddle and somehow had escaped the tire treads of the ATV enthusiasts roaring through. I re-placed it out of the way, leaning near some hawthorn and old maple, backed by juniper scrub, but it was difficult to photograph because the track and mud were so puddled that I was constantly slipping. The track is lined with trash; someone categorized/archived the trash into discrete piles around 2012/13. Since then, the ATV enthusiasts have altered the track so that it is really more puddle than track – fantastic in the spring for those of us who love frogs, but problematic for walking in the spring and, really, right into the fall. The puddles don’t drain well when they’re so large; the beaver ponds don’t assist with that, either. For everyone who has participated in rout/e, and everyone who has followed it, many thanks and very best for 2105!
What a great morning it was, placing poems at Petrie Island with Katherine Forster, Native Flora Coordinator, Al Tweddle, Chair of Friends of Petrie Island, Pearl Pirie, Roland Prevost, Janice Tokar, and Brian Pirie.
Pics and descriptions are up on the blog. Thanks to the Friends of Petrie Island for the wonderful poetry holders, and Al Tweddle and Katherine for coordinating and their willingness to collaborate on this version of rout/e. And thank you to the participants/contributors, and the good company of Brian and Janice.
Some pictures of the day, via Pearl and Janice: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pearlpirie/sets/72157648605430552/ – and there are more on the Petrie Island page on this blog.
Roland Prevost and Pearl Pirie both have books coming out ~ Singular Plurals with Chaudiere Books (Fall 2014) and pet radish, shrunken with BookThug (Spring 2015), respectively.
Links to all poets, and a listing of their books, can be found on the Petrie Island page on this blog. Stay tuned for the map…or if you’re adventurous, you’ll just look for the poems without one.
Well, it’s very exciting to be collaborating with Katherine Forster, who coordinates programs at Petrie Island. She’s interested in putting some poems there, so are aiming to have them there by Thanksgiving weekend! More details to come!