Why poems in an alley?

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Because an alley is the perfect place for poetry.

Like a good poem, an alley is honest, stripped down, unadorned, offering moving, breath-taking , sometimes terrifying glimpses of beauty and ugliness. With loving care and a little sunlight, a rose garden can flourish in an alley. A guy can huddle in a doorway for the night, protected from the wind and rain. An alley is real life.

So we are thrilled that the Court C alley between South 11th and South 9th streets has become a canvas for language and art. We hope it’s just the first of many such transformations, and the write@253 team is looking forward to working with others in our community to insert more poetry into the daily lives of Tacomans.

The Court C installation, sponsored by Spaceworks Tacoma and Downtown on the Go, offers poetry, and, thus, stories, from all over our city. “Pedestrian Universe” by Gerry Sperry and “Sidewalks” by Kellie Richardson were both originally published in “wrist” magazine. The five “I Am From” poems come from students at First Creek Middle School in Tacoma’s eastside. Write@253 is honored to partner with “wrist” and First Creek to expose these voices to a wider audience. We believe that every person has a story, that there is dignity in every person. A poem like “I Am From  the Hilltop” offers a reader, any reader, a unique opportunity to see the humanity of the young writer, despite differences in backgrounds, cultures, or experiences. If we listen to each other’s stories, listen carefully, if we pay close attention to words, beautiful things can happen.

The rest of the poems were written during write@253’s after-school program or in our poetry workshop led by Renee Simms and Catalina O’Campo, writers and teachers at the University of Puget Sound and Evergreen State College. The poets, ranging in age from kindergartners to high school students, were encouraged to slow down, to look closely at their neighborhoods, to notice the details, and, then, to find precise words to express what they saw and felt.

The  accompanying illustrations were drawn by former Tacoma School of the Arts student Piper Foulon, now a music student at Pacific Lutheran University, who created images based on her own reading of the poems. We’d love to work with more writers, artists and schools as our poems in the alley project grows.

Creativity. Literacy. Love. For everyone. No exceptions. That’s what we believe in. Take a look at the alley, and let us know what you think.


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