Tuesday afternoon, I got away from the office a little early and headed south, dodging raindrops on the way to Chester, Ill. Past Ruma, the sky commanded attention.
On my right, streaks of thin clouds danced against an opaque, pale blue. Straight ahead, dark, deep foreboding clouds layered upward. The rain streaked below. But above all that, a dome of the clearest, cleanest blue provided the beginning of a benediction that was completed in the rainbow patch shimmering at my left.
I did not stop and try to capture a photo. For one thing, I doubted that my phone's camera would pick up all the depth and variations that made the scene so memorable. For another I just wanted to soak in the majesty before me.
If I had the skill, poetry would have been the proper way to preserve what I was seeing. Alas, I do not have such skill.
But for those who do, Poetry of the Wild is coming to St. Louis. This pairing of artists and poetry is designed to engage people in what they can experience and see in areas near boxes -- boxes that contain poetry.
The program is new to St. Louis, but not new. According to a website dedicated to the effort, sculptor Ana Flores created Poetry in the Wild in 2003 when she was artist in residence for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association in Southern Rhode Island. She wanted a way to help people think about stewardship of the land and water.
Others have taken up the idea and poetry boxes have appeared in such diverse places as Mystic, Conn., Colorado Springs, Colo., and Dartington, England.
Now, Ana Flores is a visiting artist at Gallery 210. And she's shepherding Poetry of the Wild/St. Louis Fusion at the University of Missouri-St. Louis as well as the Central West End and the Grand Arts Center.
According to the gallery website, poetry boxes should be in place by May 2. The idea is to combine “art and poetry as a catalyst to explore our city and consider how spaces inform mindfulness.” Artists create the boxes that contain a poem. Also in the box is a journal and that is where a person can share their own thoughts as well as their reaction to the poem, the art or the surroundings.
Perhaps my inspiration from the stormy southern Illinois sky would not fit into one of these boxes, but the combination of your surroundings, art and verse can be inspiring.
To kick off the Poetry of the Wild project, a poetry walk in the Central West End will follow a 6 p.m. reception May 2 at Centro Modern Furnishings (4727 McPherson Ave.). Poets will read their work and then discuss, along with the artists, the artists their collaborations.
The UMSL boxes will be inaugurated Saturday starting at 2 p.m. at the first floor patio of the Millennium Student Center.
For a full list of poet-artist collaborations, go to the gallery website. I was particularly interested in seeing poet Richard Newman, who share poetry with our readers, paired with artist Joe Chesla. And Flores, the originator of the entire project, is paired with the poet, Treasure Redmond Shields.
Meanwhile, if you are in Grand Center Saturday you can not only check out poetry boxes, you can go to a gallery talk by Carmon Colangelo and Thomas Sleet at 4 p.m. at the Bruno David Gallery, 3721 Washington Blvd.
Grant & Shaw
In Tower Grove, Park, Pamela Sanfilippo, historian of the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, will talk about “Grant and Shaw: St. Louis and Beyond” at 3 p.m. May 4.
According to a press release, “For more than forty years, Grant interacted with St. Louis through the White Haven estate in south St. Louis County.” The free lecture, sponsored by the Friends of Tower Grove Park, will be at the Stupp Center, just inside the Grand Avenue entrance to Tower Grove Park.
Illumine music history
The STL250 birthday celebrations keep showing up in different ways. At 7 p.m. May 8, the Illumine Ensemble 250 will present a free concert at the AT&T Foundation Multipurpose Room of the Missouri History Museum.
As the group explains on its Facebook page, “This concert features images and artifacts from the 250 in 250 exhibit, set in context with musical selections. Join us for storytelling, history, and the greatest hits of 1764-today!”