Saturday, November 26, 2011

Walking Poems: Action-Enhanced Poem-In-Your-Post Blog Stroll

    Do you find yourself repeating particular lines of poetry - or apt quotes or song lyrics - when you're on a walk through the woods or upon the city streets? 

   I do.

   So for this weekend's poetry hop, I bring you the link to a wonderful piece reprinted in The Millions on Friday.  It's from place-based blogger and Columbia University MFA student Marni Berger, on Jon Cotner's November installation at New York City's Botanical Gardens called "Poem Forest".

   Some of the lines Cotner posted strategically seem worthy of setting to memory for future walkies, no?
“Like a dog / Cézanne says / that’s how a painter / must see”
–W.G. Sebald
“Under the trees / under the clouds / by the river”
–Gary Snyder
“One stone is not like another.”
–Denise Levertov
“What meadow yields / so fragrant a leaf / as your bright leaf?”
“It isn’t true that Nature is mute.”
–Eugenio Montale
“Robins, starlings, wrens, warblers / they pay no rent”
–Bernadette Mayer
“Walking, walking, walking, / I shall spend my life”
–Pablo Neruda
“Turning seasons turning wildly / away”
–T’ao Ch’ien
“O grace of wild, wild things”
“To be spellbound – nothing’s easier.”
–Tomas Tranströmer
   Blogger Marni Berger does a lovely job of bringing us right into her experience of this walk - and her conversations with its creator - via both text and a few telling photos like the one above, and of musing upon grief, natural beauty, and - with Cotner - one "use" for poetry: to wake us up to our own possibilities for perception. To see for yourself, read A Wanderer In Poem Forest and Berger's follow-up on her blog

   Which lines bubble up while you're out walking?  For me, it's often the first stanza from the e.e. cummings poem shared here for Thanksgiving on What She Read or Yeats' "The Lake Isle of Innisfree". Sometimes, meditation poems by Thich Nhat Hanh also arise.

   Share a few lines or a whole 'walking' poem with us today, or offer us any other poem-of-the-moment.


   My action:  I pledge to initiate a walk with a friend this weekend and to bring along a poem I want to memorize, plus some of the lines offered above.  We'll test Cotner's notions to see if we can bring ourselves more fully into the present moment as we use poetry to focus our perceived experiences.

   FYI:   Cotner's walking-and-talking performance art is near-legendary in some circles.  He and co-author Andy Fitch produced the much-lauded book Ten Walks/Two Talks, through which we may accompany them on some of their philosophical rambles.  And here's a sample of Cotner's recent walk down Bedford Avenue with his fiance, Claire ,on the GuggenheimLab site. It's a tad more - if you'll pardon the pun - pedestrian than his other works, but thoroughly engaging anyway.


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

Great post, Laurie. I'm thankful that I have you to tell me about people like Jon Cotner and Marni Berger.

Rebecca Bany said...

I just linked up!

Laurie said...

Thanks, you two. Hope you're out there walking in words.

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