Word City Studio: Below Our Feet
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012
Written by
Rachel Aydt
February 2012

Word City Studio found ourselves looking for the Poet's Walk, a series of plaques embedded in cracked sidewalks which was created by the New York Public Library in Midtown, NYC. Thousands of people pour over every day without taking the slightest notice. What better place to stop in our tracks to observe and honor found language of beloved poets? We walked, and stopped, and ruminated on the plaques, and on all of the hidden creativity in our urban oasis:

Kathleen: When I entered the library lobby I remembered the bronze plaques and asked the enthusiastic volunteer at the Information Desk if she knew which street they were on: 41st; or 40th? She had never heard of them, but said they might be on 43rd Street. Amazing how information desk personnel sometimes don’t have the information.

Rachel: When we set out to find the plaques on the sidewalk of 41st street that leads up to the library, we initially couldn't find them. There were blank squares filled in with cement, so we weren’t sure if we were in the right place. Then we saw one, then another, then the whole walk of plaques and slivers of poems. Some of the art was very literal and struck me as funny; hokey, even, but my overall feeling was that we’re so lucky to live in a place where poems are read and interpreted and bronzed, even when they’re interpreted in a literal way…and even when you have to brush the filthy cigarette butts off of them.

Kathleen: I discovered the walk by chance one day on my way to a freelance editing job and I was struck by the variety of quotes embedded in these brass plaques. But the one that stayed with me was Muriel Ruykeser’s: “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”

Have you stumbled into poetry tucked into odd and unexpected places where you live?

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