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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

April 6, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Our real-life poetry of the streets

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Mary Kollar’s box is on East Aloha Street, just west of 15th Avenue East.


Sketched March 20, 2012
I often try to capture the poetry of the urban landscape with my pen, but this is the first time I’ve come across actual poems on the streets.
On Capitol Hill’s Aloha Street, I found Mary Kollar’s poetry box, which she fills each month with a timely poem. She started the ritual in 2004 as a protest against presidential candidates who were butchering “the beauty of the English language.”
Many passers-by pick up the poem, she said, like the jogger who stops to read it to her mom over the phone every month, or the boy who reads it aloud to his dad after school.
Kollar’s box has also inspired other poetry shrines. The biggest may be Gregory Harrop’s “poem bench” in Wallingford, where you can “Sit a while, read a poem. If you like it, take one home. If you don’t, that’s O.K. There will be another one on Monday.”
Happy National Poetry Month!
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Gregory Harrop’s poem bench is on Eastern Avenue North, just north of North 40th Street.


Web Extra
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Kollar also mentioned this poetry box on 20th Avenue East and East Aloha Street. She said it belongs to Guy Holliday, a local poet who shares his own writings.
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On Greenwood Avenue North and North 82nd Street I found this psychedelic mail box that invites passers-by to take a free poem and “S M ILE.”
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

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