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Poetry is so much more than the child’s universal "roses are red/violets are blue/sugar is sweet/and so are you" (although the variations on that one have entertained the childish among us for decades).
Most of us have a favorite poem that we associate with a favorite time of our lives, a favorite person.
The state is looking for poems that will evoke a favorite place — in this case, an Alaska state park. The name of the project is Poems in Place. The Alaska Center for the Book, a committee of Alaska writers and poets and Alaska State Parks all have joined together in the project "to celebrate the natural beauty of Alaska’s state parks with poetry."
The selected poem is installed on a permanent sign in state parks across the state. The first was installed in Chugach State Park in 2011 ("What Whales and Infants Know," by Kim Cornwall.)
The exciting part is that the state now is looking for poems to consider for Totem Bight State Historical Park. Adult Alaska residents can submit up to three poems each.
We can write poems specifically for the project, according to Claire LeClair, deputy director of Alaska State Parks, or we can nominate poems written by any Alaskan poet, living or deceased. Copyrighted work is eligible, if copyright permission from the previous publishers is granted in advance.
Only digital entries will be accepted; that is, poems must be entered via the Web. Specifics regarding fonts and format are included in the rules for submissions, which are posted online at http://www.alaskacenterforthebook.org/id112.html
One must be at least 18 years old to enter, and poems can be a maximum of 24 lines.
Submissions are being accepted now until March 15. Winners will be selected in May, with the announcement of winners (one for Totem Bight, one for Chena River State Recreation Area in Fairbanks) coming May 31. Dedications of the signs will occur mid-August to mid-September and will include writing workshops in Ketchikan and Fairbanks. The winning poets will receive $150.
Many a fine memory has been made at Totem Bight, from weddings, to contemplation, to seriously fine little walks. We love to remember those times, don’t we? Sometimes, a poem is just the thing.