Archive | August, 2011

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.