Earlier this week I lead my creative writing students through the creation of a four-line, twenty-characters-a-piece poem inspired by one of the four seasons. Why? Oh, because of this small little fantastically awesome thing that’s happening up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, called Roadside Poetry. I’d stumbled upon RP's website and mission in August, and I immediately knew it was something I’d use in my classroom. I mean, a short poem, a challenging riddle-like form, a stretch of pavement, and four billboards? Surely one of those would get teenagers writing. It had worked for me.
The happy news is that my own submission to Roadside Poetry has been accepted for this autumn. In a few short days, the beginnings of 90,000 sets of eyes will drive past my verses and maybe, hopefully, read them, think about beauty instead of dinner, see the leaves instead of their cell phones, consider change as an image instead of a stress. Paul Carney, the coordinator of Roadside Poetry, said that he wanted people who ordinarily do not read or encounter poems to have access to moments like that. On this day, I cannot think of a more kind-hearted aim. We are all so busy, aren’t we? So burdened by finances and work pressures and family members who deserve more than we can give. A poem—a short, simple one that speaks about the natural world—can be a brief reprieve, if we let it. If we let it in.
Serendipitously, my husband and I, and all of my relatives on my dad’s side, are driving northwest in a few weeks for my cousin’s wedding. I was already looking forward to the trip. Crookston, two hours past Fergus Falls, is new country for me, and if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I make friends with a fresh landscape pretty easily. Now? Let’s just say October will be a good month. Paul told me the trees will be beautiful then. So I’ll take photos. Of the forests. The farms. The wide open spaces. And, you know, um, those four shiny billboards that end in my name.