Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On A Stick

Question: How many things are there on a stick at the Minnesota State Fair?  
Answer: over 59.
The Minnesota State Fair  boasts more things on a stick than anywhere in the world. Every year at the Fair you can find an abundance of things on a stick ranging from walleye, to corned beef and cabbage, fried fruit, alligator sausage, frozen key lime pie and many more offerings. But nowhere on the list did I see Poetry on the Stick. This unique non-edible item certainly is noteworthy.
David Bengtson, a poet, with his wife Marilyn came up with this creative idea to promote poetry. In fact he has made and given away more than 8,300 Poems-on Sticks. Here is his story..

The “Poems-on-Sticks” Story
In 2003, I was one of the seven poets who read poems on the Mississippi River Stage at the Minnesota State Fair. This event was sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources and the National Park Service.

Since so many things at the fair are served on a stick, my wife Marilyn suggested that I glue some postcard-sized poem/photo combinations to sticks, sign them, and bring them along to hand out after the reading. I brought 50 and they went quickly.

I still remember one little guy, maybe around 10, who took a poem, stepped away, read it, turned and looked at me. He then walked back, holding the poem as though he wanted me to take it, and said, “Ya gotta another one?” Not easily discouraged, I have, since then, made and given away more than 8300 “Poems-on-Sticks” at various presentations, readings, workshops, bookstores, and coffee shops.

A new edition of 36 “Poems-on-Sticks” features photographs by Mike Hazard, a documentary filmmaker, photographer, and writer from St. Paul. The design is by Peg Churchwell of Lady Dog Design in Long Prairie.


To view David's poems go to the website http://poemsonsticks.tumblr.com
This site is a collaborative effort. Mike Hazard has posted his photographs to accompany David's poems.  Peg Churchwell has facilitated the design process.


This is David's poem featured in the above in the photo.
Japanese Garden
In this garden one tree is weeping
while another's bent branch waits for God to sit 
and the lantern rides a frozen wave.
All winter we waited for these few days
when plum and apple blossom.
Tomorrow we will walk this path again
and stand here with outstretched hands
as petals fall silent as snow. 
by David Bengston

So find yourself a poem, grab a stick and pass it along for someone else to enjoy!

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