Poetry on the Trail

students looking at poetry trail signs

“My temple is the swamp… When I would recreate myself, I seek the darkest wood, the thickest and most impenetrable and to the citizen, most dismal, swamp. I enter a swamp as a sacred place, a sanctum sanctorum… I seemed to have reached a new world, so wild a place…far away from human society. What’s the need of visiting far-off mountains and bogs, if a half-hour’s walk will carry me into such wildness and novelty?”
– Henry David Thoreau

St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus, located at  9200 113th St, Seminole, FL, invites students, staff and community members to stroll along a 200-yard boardwalk to experience a slice of wild Florida preserved on campus. While enjoying their walk, visitors can identify trees and plants using a QR code and a scanner app on their smart phones to instantly access information. Now visitors can also scan QR codes to enjoy poetry inspired by nature as they stroll the boardwalk.

As an adjunct professor of Communications at SPC, I like to think of my poetry QR codes as guerrilla culture on the Natural Habitat Trail.

Knowing that Florida and swamps in general have inspired Whitman, Thoreau, and many contemporary poets, I asked myself, why not create a poetry website that could be accessed via QR codes too?

poetry

I wrote a CETL grant to fund the project, created the website, SPC Poetry Spot, and then tracked down the fabricators of the existing botanical signs to StickyJ Medical ID and Thoughtful Impressions. The company happily agreed to make a set of nine poetry spot plaques. When completed, I installed all but two of the plaques; but on a return visit to place the last two, I discovered vandals had stolen all the other signs. Alas, it’s hard to hate a poetry thief.

Miffed, but not discouraged, I started looking for a cheap way to replace the codes because the funds from the CETL grant had been spent. Poetry Spot 2.0 became weatherproof vinyl stickers added to the botanical plaques. The solution turned out to be poetic justice! The sticker codes worked even faster than the aluminum version.

With poems and plant identifications at their fingertips, I hope visitors will be inspired by the words of some early American authors who loved the swamp.

 

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