As you are walking through the city, on your way to work or lunch or an evening out with friends, you see a tiny wooden box on a mailbox post titled "Poetry House." Behind a plexiglass door are four postcard-sized poems, free for the taking. When you check back in a couple weeks, the old poems are gone and new poems have popped up in their place. Soon, you can't wait until the next re-up of your local Poetry House.
This is the vision behind the Poetry Houses public art project. Our plans are to build and install four Poetry Houses around the city of Pittsburgh. Every two weeks, for a year, a brand new batch of four poems will arrive like magic in the Poetry Houses. Each of those batches will include: a local poet, a local teen poet, a teen poet from anywhere in the world, and an adult poet from anywhere in the world.
The Poetry Houses have an online component, too. On a time delay, we will publish images of each poem postcard released through the public houses so anyone in the world can access the poetry, not just people in Pittsburgh.
The motivating factor behind the Poetry Houses is to make poetry fun and accessible. When we say accessible, we mean both intellectually accessible and physically accessible. Poetry these days has a reputation for being impossible to understand and meaningless for everyday life-locked away in an ivory tower. We want to show people that poems can be anything, from strange and mystifying on through to simple and sweet. The poems we choose for the houses, then, will tend toward the narrative and the humorous as opposed to the experimental and fractured. And by installing Poetry Houses alongside sidewalks and other places with good foot traffic, we are physically making poetry a part of people's everyday lives.
Funded by Pittsburgh, PA (July 2015)