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…
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.
Seems like this guy saw Bowering’s poem in the woods. “Saw your poem in the woods,” he said. Now, I know him. We’ve chatted quite a bit, as he runs the Home Hardware not far from me, and sometimes we talk nuts and bolts and plexiglass and sometimes we talk music and sometimes we talk projects like poetry. And he walks, often the same sorts of places I do. But this is the first time someone local has actually said something about the poem in the woods. “Where? Which poem?” I said. There are a few. “Can’t remember the name, but it had something about kissing in Parliament.” “Ah,” I said. “Ferguson Forest Centre. George Bowering.” “Yeah. I think so. Neat. It’s right by a little bridge, and a bit in.” Yep. That’s the one. Thing is, though, that I could swear that that poem went missing. And now….it’s back? So it’s been missing for 2 or so years. So…someone replanted it? In snow? I’ll have to go and recheck the site; it’s been awhile. Get some new pics to post. Maybe tomorrow. I think I have a Bowering chapbook somewhere. Maybe I’ll drop one off at the Home Hardware….
& 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!
I happen to have a love of kites; things that the wind can take away. derek beaulieu‘s piece, Translating Translating Apollinaire, was placed on a grey birch stand – an awkward looking grey birch stand – made up of vinyl on plexiglass, framed in 1.5 inch cedar. It was angled to match (as closely as I could) the solar panel array alongside it. It was one remove from the empty solar panel array that was stolen a few years ago. Translating Translating Apollinaire (TTA) is located at Baxter Conservation Area. It is a lovely wetland on the Rideau River; it is also a local hotspot for swimming and various outdoor activities. It is, more recently, in an area that is earmarked for the TransCanada Corporation proposed Energy East pipeline project…the implementation of a pipeline under the Rideau River that would be carrying diluted bitumen to St. John, New Brunswick from Hardisty, Alberta.
I did wonder what would happen. TTA was screwed to the birch, but one particularly blustery evening it must have been wind-taken. The manager found TTA when she arrived in the morning, on the ground, the plexi cracked a little, but otherwise in fairly good shape. I will be replacing it, but until then, the grey birch stands, awkward. derek’s bio sits beside it. There is an empty space beside the empty space.
New photos, pre flight but wintery, are here.
derek’s work suits the outdoor spaces admirably.
For those interested in these things, there is a pre-translation of Translating Translating Apollinaire. Didn’t want to say anything until now ~