Island Senior: Town Refreshes Poetry Gardens

By Peggy Sue McRae,

Journal contributor

Two years ago the Town of Friday Harbor’s Arts Commission (FHAC) and a committee of local citizens established poetry gardens at a variety of locations in town. The plan at that time was to replace those poems with new poems two years

later. The time for new poems has arrived.

Thirty winning poems were selected out of 104 poems submitted by local poets. All entrants reside in San Juan County. The poems were reviewed in a blind judging process with final selections determined by former Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna.

The winning poems will be engraved on plaques fixed to wooden stands replacing the original poetry garden poems. The poems will be displayed at four locations around town, at the Mullis Community Senior Center, the San Juan Community

Theatre, next to the Post Office on Reed Street, and at Spring Street Landing in the waterfront viewing area below Downriggers restaurant. The installation of the new poetry plaques is planned to happen near the end of April so keep a look out for something new. As the project states, “Poetry is a way of seeing our world through another’s mind.” The poetry gardens “have been created as a way of bringing poetry into our daily experiences.”

Poet and ultimate arbiter of Friday Harbor’s poetry garden selection process, Claudia Castro Luna, brings her experience as an urban planner into her poetry. As Seattle’s first civic poet she sought to capture a rapidly changing urban landscape by asking people to write about specific locations in the city and creating a “poetic grid.” Her poem, “A Corner to Love,” speaks to this project.

Maps of this city

Number in the thousands

Unique and folded

Neatly inside each citizen’s

Heart. We live in the city

And the city lives in us.

As you walk about loved corners of Friday Harbor this spring stop and take note of the new poetry blossoming among the foliage. The winning poems will also be published in a booklet that will be available through the Town of Friday Harbor as well as in an e-book featured on the Town’s website.