Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday 10 June 2007


Four month ago I took a walk around the lake asking any business with a door onto Green Lake for sponsorship to help effect “The Running Poets of Green Lake.” Last month, as I was getting closer to making it happen, I walked around the lake again. In the end, I didn’t get any funding (strange, everyone thought it was a great idea), but the experience of walking around the lake with my request letters, going business to business, talking up the project, will stay with me. It made clear in my mind the reasons for supporting locally-owned and operated businesses. Really, I mean why would World Wrapps or Duke’s Chowder House or The Blue Wave have any care for the poets who live and write and run here at Green Lake, or for the children of Green Lake, or for the fish or birds or raccoons or rabbits, or even the fiction writers? Well they wouldn’t, unless you happened upon a store manager who was also a poet or a fish or a raccoon. “Send your letter to our corporate office in North Carolina.”

Being an individual artist asking for money, that's tough. Were I a registered non-profit or a sports team asking for certificates or gifts-in-kind it would have been easier. I'm sure a better business person could have demonstrated the pressing need for Super Jock'N Jill's involvement with a juicy little advertising space. At the outset, I thought I'd found supporters in both stores. I was invited in by Always Running and was able to effectively engage the 3rd manager I spoke to at Super Jock'N Jill, but in the end neither one bit. And so, after being turned down by all the stores and restaurants I went into and then being denied a discount by American Apparel (I didn't make it into their giving schedule), I went ahead with the project. I believe in this. I got a raise in May. I can put money into this. This month marks my first expendable income in 4 years. Here's something I can give my money to. Why? Because it needs to be.

I found a printer in my new neighborhood, Ballard. John of Elephants Gerald was awesome. I recommend him. He’s not only an extremely nice person, but helpful, smart, t-shirt savvy and has made himself into an epi-center for an amazing network of Ballard locals. In the 7 hours I was there heat-pressing poems on shirt backs, at least 15 people stopped in or waved at the doorway despite the chairs blocking the door and the sign that read, Closed: Rush Job.


Thanks to Jeff Tolbert, a local artist, musician and graphic designer, for his help converting the logo into a TIFF and JPEG. I didn’t have the programs to make the logo read for a printer so he worked them up for me. Turns out John is happy to work from paper copies, but the image helped with all sorts of event promotion.


I need 100 poets. Where am I going to I find 100 poets? Do we even have 100 poets? I put out a call to PoetsWest, WPA, Hugo House, the UW, Open Books, Writer Grrls, Artist Trust, Craig’s List. And the poems started to patter in. Rebecca Loudon was first to send a poem. I had 14 by the end of the day. I got ten more each day. By the end of week one I had close to 50 poets and decided to broaden my search. I called on poets and professors to send out their feelers. I need 100 poets. Hurry please!!

Paul Nelson put a call to SPLAB!, Carlos Martinez put a call to his students, Laura Gamache took it to her elementary school and Raul Sanchez put a call to Los Nortenos. More poems came in. I had just under 100 by the deadline, 5 June. But I need 100. I won’t settle for less. I called louder. Finally the last few came in. I had to turn about 10 away.

In the end, I had said yes to 105 people and had to buy a few more shirts.



The shirts went in under 40 minutes! It was awesome. Such energy from both ends– poets and runners. A handful of poets had come to see their poems run away. They were gathered around the desk. When a runner received the shirt of a poet who was present there was hand shaking and an exchange. And everyone cheered as the pink shirts flew by!

Women and men, young and old, children in strollers, poets, nonpoets, runners and some walkers wore the 100 poetry shirts around the lake this Sunday. Oliver filmed it with his Super 8 camera. I dropped the film off Monday at Alpha Cine. I get it back Friday. Next week, I’ll convert it to DVD at Northwest Film Forum. I hope to get it out to folks soon afterwards. Work, work, work. Communication takes our every effort.

I’m spending all my thought now and my energy devising and planning and fine-tuning the last day of my project. It's just 3 short weeks from today.

My very last day in the park will be Sunday 1 July 2007. I am preparing an installation which will invoke The Perfect Circle. An instigation with public interaction, filming, sound recording, drawing and movement. I hope you'll come be a part. It wouldn't be anything without you.


Blogger D said...

Thanks for getting all the poems together and online - I'd still love to buy a couple of shirts from you if they're available.


11:43 AM  

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