Short Documentary about the Project

19 Jun

Filmed, Directed and Edited by Evan Carpenter,

The Billboard Poetry Project part 2: Community Essays

27 Feb

laura bus 132

The experience of changing our landscape with Derek Henderson’s poem was one that couldn’t really be replaced or re-done. But, we wanted to continue the project, and we were excited to see how the Billboard Poetry Project would manifest itself next.

Late last Summer, a local writing instructor from Brigham Young University approached us with an idea to extend the project. She wanted her students to be more involved with the community. She wanted her students to experience how words can affect a community.

We wondered how the Billboard Poetry Project would work within a higher education context, so we decided the next iteration would be an experiment: what would happen if 37 college students went out into the community and wrote essays about their experiences. What would they find? What would they create? What about the Provo community would they expose? And, how would their essays become part of the public space?

We enlisted the help of Dan Barney, Art Education professor, project co-founder; Ashley Mae Hoiland, writer, teacher, artist, project co-founder; David Wolske, printer, graphic designer; Ben Dougal, artist, graphic designer; 37 students & their professor, Emily Dyer; the city of Provo–8 non-profit organizations & 10 geographic/cultural sites in the city.

The Idea: Explore the Provo community & create essays from the explorations that accurately reflect the community the students’ found. Then, share these essays with the community.

The Result: 37 essays expressing Provo–the landscape, the people, the stories, the relationships, the community.

billbard poetry project posters

The Billboard Poetry Element: To celebrate Provo, and these essays, the students revised their essays into broadsides we posted throughout the Provo community.

To view and download the broadsides: click here

To read the essays: click here


Remembering the Billboard Poetry Project

19 Oct

One of the billboards goes up in Provo, Utah back in September 2011.

The People Behind the Project

15 Sep

This information is actually something that should have been one of the first things up on this site.  This project was a collaboration of many efforts by many people with varied talents and skills.  We want to tell you a bit about them here.  Please visit their websites, blogs, etc… because they are all involved in great things in this community.

Ashley mae Hoiland: Co-founder of the Project. Ashley earned a BFA in Painting and an MFA in poetry, both from Brigham Young University.  She makes it a point to be involved in community projects as much as possible.  You can visit her blog here.

Dan Barney: C0-founder of the Project, Assistant Professor of Art Education at BYU.  Dan earned his BFA in Studio and MA in Art Education from BYU,  and his PhD in Curriculum Studies from the University of British Columbia.  Visit his website here.

Jethro Gillespie: Committee member on Project, Art Educator at Maple Mountain High. Jethro earned a BFA in printmaking, and is almost done with his MA in Art Education, both from BYU programs.  You can find some of his work here

Phillip Brown: Project Designer. Received a BA in graphic design from BYU. More of his work here.

Rachel Call: Project Photographer.  You can see more of her work here.

Jon Bryner: Event Caterer.  Contact him at jonbryner at

Evan Carpenter: Project filmmaker. You can see more of his documentary film work on his YouTube channel.

In the Media

8 Sep

We were featured on the home page of Poetry Foundation!

A fabulous article from the UVU Review.

and in the Daily Herald.

and in the  Daily Herald again.

on a blog that also is involved in getting poetry into more common spaces.

in the Nebo School District News.

on the Mayor’s blog.

Let me know if you’ve seen the Billboard Poetry Project anywhere else!

Billboard Poetry Project

15 Aug

Phillip Brown designed the billboards and promotional materials for the project.  Thank you for beautiful work Phillip!

The Billboard Poetry Project began as a simple idea as I drove on the freeway almost a year ago.  I looked around me at the billboards that sprouted up and up and up on either side of the road.  I saw words, images, phrases, ideas, but nothing that resonated with my soul.  Nothing that told me that the things around me represented the place I grew up in.  The place that raised me is made of mountain trails, lake shores, orange sunsets, powdered snow and canyon roads.  My heart felt heavy and manipulated as we whizzed past billboards flaunting liposuction, plastic surgery, chain restaurants that offer little by way of local culture and talent.  I am lucky to be surrounded by artists, writers, poets, thinkers, but on that drive, I saw no notion of their words or ideas.  The influence and permeation of our local artists and poets, (so often the formers of cultural identity and thought) were no where to be found.  Instead, hollow advertisements telling me I need to be thinner, prettier, richer, more hungry loomed down at me for as far as I could see.  I said to my husband, “What if instead of these advertisements, we could see something that represents love and thought for our local landscape and culture.  What if we put a poem up on these billboards?”  We talked about the idea the entire way home.  I continued to ponder the idea, wondering how I could make it a reality.  In November, with the help of a professor and a few friends, I applied for a Laycock Grant from BYU.  In March we got the grant and set to work.  I believe in the art and writing created around me.  I am buoyed up by it.  I believe in the power of taking back what should belong to us.  I’m tired of things like billboards telling me who and what I should be, when those billboards take little thought for who I actually am and what I am capable of as a human being.  So often we settle for weak facades of truth.  I want these billboards to be a representation of what we are capable of as a community.  I want people to recognize the intelligence and beauty of the poetry, writing and art created right in our midst.  So often we look outward to other sources and wait to be told what we should think, but there are thinkers, good thinkers right in our own community.  I want the three billboards on State Street with a poem by Derek Henderson on them to be the beginning of many tangible experiences for good within our very own landscape.