Sophomore Kelly Clare is on a mission to provide the people of Traverse City, Mich. with some locally penned poetry. The city itself will perform recitations.
This isn’t mystical voodoo, but instead the latest innovations in audio technology. Clare collaborated with the National Writers Series to place QR Code cards around the city, which can be scanned by the passerby to access a poem about the particular area read aloud by the poet who wrote the piece.
“When I went back home for summer, I realized everybody is scared of poetry, which is terribly depressing,” said Clare, a creative writing major who believes that poetry isn’t just for dissecting and studying.
“Poetry is this physical, tangible thing. Poems kick you in the gut really hard,” she said.
Clare was especially inspired by Knox’s own Writer’s House, a project within the Creative Writing department that recorded hours of audio, collected while driving over 3,000 miles throughout the country. Clare was also inspired by international poetic endeavors.
“I started thinking about when I was in Scotland, I encountered a lot of public poetry projects. They’d have poems written on the sides of buildings there. So I contemplated chalk-bombing everything on campus. I also thought about how useful the Knox Writer’s House has been, an online compendium of audio recordings of poets around the world.”
Clare combined the public aspect of the Scotland projects and the archival thoroughness of the Writer’s House and had her own project ready to be taken into action.
Linking up with the National Writers Series, a non-profit organization based in Michigan, was the next step.
“I walked into the head director’s office thinking I’d have to do some convincing and she said ‘Should we make a timeline?’ and I was like ‘Okay! You’re gonna do this? Is this real?’”
Clare then reached out to old faculty members and area poets (as well as a few out-of-towners such as the ex-poet laureate of Delaware) and received an overwhelming amount of support from them. For both Clare and the Writers Series, this was the perfect moment to start making “poetry more accessible to the public.” Contextualising the various author’s poetry into places that specifically relate to the poems will potentially grab the interest of people unfamiliar to poetry.
Clare concurs that it’s possible that Galesburg could be the next place for a “You Are Hear” experience, but she really wants to tap into the hidden audio archive on campus, which is rumored to hold a database of famous authors reading at Knox. Clare wishes to convert the aging, deteriorating cassette tapes into audio files that could be accessed either at the library or on a Knox-affiliated website. For now, Clare is content with the hidden poetry of her own city.