Last weekend, I went to Western Washington University for the first annual Poetry Camp. After the end of the sessions and right before Jack Prelutsky, the first Children’s Poet Laureate, gave his fantastic reading of ‘Rat for Lunch,’ I went for a walk around the campus where I once went to school.
I was hunting the outdoor sculpture collection.
A few pieces stood out in my memory from the time I went there and I looked for them like old friends. Others I had forgotten but as soon as I saw them I wondered why they hadn’t stuck around in my mind.
And some were new. Many of those were installed in 1999, several years after I left Bellingham.
Seeing them all felt like another kind of poetry all together.
Here was my view of ‘For Handel’ by Mark di Suvero from the 6th floor window of Wilson Library. It is huge, orange, and unforgettable, even for me.
This is one ‘Untitled (Steam Work for Bellingham)’ by Robert Morris. The steam wasn’t running that day, but when it does, you can use your imagination to create sculptures from what you see.
This new one was massive and on a newer part of the campus.
‘Feats of Strength’ by Tom Otterness was my absolute favorite of the new ones and maybe even of all the sculpture collection. I loved the sense of play and the balance of those rocks.
The buildings begged to have their pictures taken, too.
And I wasn’t the only one with the idea that afternoon.
I didn’t get to photo them all or even put everything I found here. You can check out the spectacular photo gallery online for more. Or better yet. Walk around that campus some day.
In my twenties as a new English teacher, I gave my Japanese and other international students tours of the campus. Over and over they would point to some object with no practical purpose and ask me what it was with a puzzled look.
Back then I said, “If you don’t know what it is, then it’s art.”
Thinking about it more this past weekend, I would change my tour guide statement. Now I think:
“If you don’t always know how it makes you feel but it absolutely makes you feel more than you did before, then it’s art. For sure.”
Which is, of course. too long. My students learning English would have looked even more puzzled. I’ll have to go back, soak up those sculptures, and come up with something better.
I hear they will have a Children’s Literature Conference in February.
May you find art and may it find you looking-
P.S. Inside Wilson Library was also amazing! What a place for poetry to happen.