Posts Tagged ‘urban living’

Sidewalk Poetry, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Sidewalk Poetry, part of the Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk project, Saint Paul, Minnesota, October 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

A tourist
in the cathedral
of your silence
I am reverent
for all the wrong

The untitled poem in the photograph Sidewalk Poetry was written by Esmé Evans. It was taken during a celebration of Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk. The project is a unique collaboration between Saint Paul Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul, and is the brainchild of Marcus Young, Artist In Residence of the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota.

We attended the opening in Frogtown on a beautiful Fall day last October. The project is the first of its kind in this country and is largely due to Minnesota citizens who, in spite of the economic downturn, continue to support and fund the Arts.

We purchased the hand-bound book created and designed by Aki Shibata and Marcus Young, and had many of the poets sign their poems. It’s important to note that the judging was anonymous — poems were chosen on their own merit, without knowing the poet’s age, experience, or background. The poets in the book come from all walks of life, and include children and teens whose poetry is now letterpressed into Saint Paul’s city sidewalks.

I hope to do a future piece with more photographs from the opening. Until then, I’ll continue to post snippets from the Sidewalk Poetry series.

Esmé Evans works for the State of Minnesota. She is married and has two sons. She and her family have lived in Saint Paul since 1984, and can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    — bio from the book Everyday Poems for City Sidewalk

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

-related to posts: Got Poetry? (National Poem In Your Pocket Day)Celebrate Poetry (Let Me Count The Ways)

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Stellas Fish Cafe, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Stella’s Fish Cafe, NightShots Series, Minneapolis, Minnesota, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

July summer night
if only I could eat fish
I’d dine at Stella’s

Note: I’ve been going back through archived photos from the last year. This was a drive-by shooting out near Calhoun Square last July. I’d just had dinner with two writer friends and we were giving a Wisconsin native the tour of Minneapolis, including writers’ homes, Birchbark Books, the Mississippi River, the Minnesota Zen Center on Lake Calhoun, and a few great places to eat. The I-35 bridge construction was just meeting in the middle, so we also walked out to see the construction progress at sunset.

When we reached Uptown, it was approaching dark; I looked up to see this great shot of Stella’s. If only I could eat fish! Well, I can eat shellfish but am allergic to all other kinds. Maybe I can stop by after all. As for the photography, I like to write in the morning when I’m fresh, but I’m a total Night Owl and some of my best shots are taken at night.

Last night I was in the studio until 2 a.m. Below are some other Night Owl posts from over the years. Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Person? Has it changed over time?

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, November 9th, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day)

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Growing up I thought people fell into two categories: City Mouse and Country Mouse. I loved Green Acres for how it neatly jibed with my view of life. There was Eddie Albert’s character, living out his lifelong dream to be a farmer, and Eva Gabor, longing for a penthouse view and wasting her exotic beauty (and accent) on Arnold the Pig and squeaky Mr. Haney.

I empathized with both characters. What could be better than farm livin’ and all those pigs, ducks, and sheep? Ask my sister, I even loved—I mean truly loved—the smell of manure.

Yet city life seemed grand, too. My best friend in third grade, Andrea Crespin, lived in apartments, and every time I went to her house to play, her complex was full of kids our age. 

Later I discovered there were many shades of City and Country Mousedom. Some people were River, others Mountains, some even Golf Community. You could tell lifelong Desert people by the way the skin on their legs hung like drapes and their arms resembled beef jerky sticks. I heard Ocean people talk about the briny smell of the sea as if it were an aphrodisiac. I figured there were also people who swooned about the Tropics, although given that Gilligan and the Skipper were stranded on a desert island with cannibal headshrinkers, I couldn’t fathom that being a paradise.

Pop culture also informed my knowledge of city living: the Beverly Hillbillies, Buffy and Jody with Mr. French in a luxurious New York City apartment, and the Bradys and Partridges in their suburban surrounds.

When Jim and I got married and it came time to put down roots, we agreed we were more Country than City and narrowed our choices to the fertile Rio Grande valley or the wild and wooley Sandia Mountains. We dialed up realtor parents of a mutual friend and off we went house hunting.

One day sitting in a once-famous-but-now-defunct restaurant in the East Mountains of Albuquerque, Jim and I realized that while the mountains were beautiful in their own way, they were also filled with what at the time seemed like an awful lot of, well, survivalists. In the mountains we saw an inordinate number of rifles, barbed wire fences, barricades, and bomb shelters. Valley folk, on the other hand, were more likely to carry walking sticks and herd sheep in large pastures.

And so it was decided, we’d live in the river valley. It’s where we each grew up and where we ultimately decided to stay. I’ve run into a lot of people I knew from high school, and I’ve heard the same thing from most every one of them: You can take the boy (or girl) out of the valley, but you can’t take the valley out of the boy.

Is it as simple as where you grew up and what seeped into your growing bones? I spent all those years fishing for crawdads in ditches and hanging out at the river. I climbed cottonwoods and chased cotton through the month of June. I sometimes think that if you cracked me open, you’d find clods of fertile soil instead of blood. That after generations of being here, I’ve transmuted and become incapable of survival anywhere else.

I keep coming back to this theme: Place, Home. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube for me. What shapes our affinities to geography and why?

Help me figure it out. What calls to you? What particular geographic dimension bites you and doesn’t let go?

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Frank Gehry’s Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. Minnesota, longshot, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

Nightshot, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 7th, 2007, designed by Frank Gehry, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey,  all rights reserved.

Frank Gehry’s Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, detail, photo by QuoinMonkey, all rights reserved

Inspiration, Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota, April 7th, 2007, designed by Frank Gehry, photo © 2007-2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

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