A community collaborative chalkboard installation
Make poetry happen
In 2015, I planted a chalkboard installation in the heart of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts campus and I followed its journey over the course of several weeks.
Copies of “I Wanna Hear a Poem” by Yadiris Valdez were featured alongside the chalkboard for participants to read and be inspired. I intended to not only bring this poem to the public but more importantly, bring the poem's essence to life.
Once installed, I asked the public to be interactive – take a piece of chalk and write down a word, a phrase, a stanza, a sentence! By picking up a piece of chalk or stopping to read Valdez's poem, participants effortlessly helped bring the community together using the power of poetry.
With help from my friends, I created the Make Poetry Happen chalkboard.
The essence of Yadiris Valdez’s “I Wanna Hear a Poem” ventures to express the polysemous nature of poetry. Valdez asks her audience to give her a poem. From wanting "A poem that will make your lips curl like an Elvis CD" to "a poem so good, bad, disgusting," Valdez's only exception is "just don't make it a deja vu poem / or a cliche."
For some, finding a subject to write about can be challenging, but "I Wanna Hear a Poem" helps readers address this challenge with a solution. Valdez's poem reminds us that poetry, naturally, can be about anything.
Write what you know.
Write what you feel.
Write what you see.
Write what makes you laugh.
Just write, write, write a poem.