Poems in Place: A Guest Post by Wendy Erd

Late last August I was running along a meadow trail when an undeniable idea arrived that Kim Cornwall’s poem, What Whales and Infants Know, should be placed on a sign at Beluga Point, in Chugach State Park. The astonishing beauty of Kim’s poem called to be in this place.

When I first met Kim she introduced me to William Stafford’s poetry and to his Methow River Poems. In 1993, two forest rangers in Oregon asked Stafford if he would create a series of poems to be placed on signs along the river. Kim and I planned to walk one day, along the Methow, to read his poems set in meadows and forests and river sounds.

In this same spirit, I hoped that Kim’s words could rise in the confluence of bright air, ocean currents and surfacing whales to grace travelers stopping by.

From the onset the idea was generously embraced and supported by Charlotte Fox, the director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, Tom Harrison, Chugach State Park Superintendent and Bill Kiger, Interpretive Panel and Education Director for Alaska State Parks who donated their energy, administration and staff design time. Friends and family donated additional funds for the sign’s installation.

Kim passed away early last summer. It is our hope that What Whales and Infants Know, will be the first of many poems in unusual places in Alaska. A seeding of poetry in the landscape, Poems in Place, serves as a tribute to Kim’s work and to the power of poems in special places.

Please join us for the dedication of Kim’s poem, and a celebration of the first Poem in Place in Alaska, on May 25th at 2pm at Beluga Point, Turnagain Arm.

For more information or directions to the dedication of a poem in place, please contact Wendy Erd @ wendyerd@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “Poems in Place: A Guest Post by Wendy Erd”

  1. So exciting! What a wonderful way to unite poetry with place in Alaska. I hope this is the beginning of a long and beautiful tradition for our great state.

  2. Andromeda Romano-Lax

    Having recently seen the announcement about the unveiling, I was wondering about how this great idea came to be. Thanks so much for telling us about it, Wendy, and I hope that more "poems in place" follow.

  3. Wendy, the idea came from previous projects, but you went the distance, found help, and made this happen. As someone who loves Alaska places, and loves the amazing poetry of Kim Cornwall, my hat's off to you for having the vision, and doing the work. May this project plant many seeds.

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