Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Poetry month celebrations starting soon in Palmer

Have you ever waxed poetic about a wind turbine? Gotten a thrill from crafting haiku about the smell of rich dirt or the taste of a radish pulled fresh from the field?

Palmer Arts Council wants to encourage the budding poet in all of us and, to do so, is offering an “Earth, Wind and Fire Tour” this month in recognition of Poetry Month in April. The tour is geared toward adults and includes a trip to Gray Owl Farm, the Department of Natural Resources Fire Prevention and Suppression headquarters, the West Coast/Alaskan Tsunami Warning Center and the wind turbine at Sherrod Elementary School. The best part? Participants will be boarding a big ol’ yellow school bus to go to each site.

Bridgette Preston is organizing the tour. Preston has been the mind behind the Palmer Underground walking tours the past two years. Those tours routinely sell out. Preston said this tour was developed in response to surveys turned in by prior participants of Arts Council events.

This tour isn’t just about gawking, however. Participants will be asked to “write down thoughts, phrases, words, concepts using very basic poetry forms,” Preston said. The goal is to make poetry fun, she said. And there’s no judgment.

“We are not looking for people to write polished poetry, and most probably won’t go beyond the basics. But we hope having an assignment will make opportunities for people to engage in a different way with the basic informational tour,” Preston said by e-mail.

The tour is an experiment, Preston said. The Arts Council is unsure if tickets will sell, or if all the logistics will come together. If it works, something like it might happen again.

“We’re just trying to put together something that is interesting, engaging, informative and provides opportunities for civic engagement,” Preston said.

Preston is producing the tour as a volunteer for the Arts Council and all funds raised will go to support the Arts Council summer camps for youth. She hopes to do a “Smell the Lilacs” walking tour in Palmer in mid-June and is considering a “Spiritual Geography of Palmer” biking tour this summer.

The tour is scheduled for 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. March 31. Only 50 tickets are being sold, so there’s a chance the tour will sell out. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at Fireside Books in Palmer or by visiting Find out more about the tour at the website or by emailing

Poetry workshop coming up this weekend
Beginning March 28, poet Katie Eberhart will be facilitating a three-day poetry workshop at Mat-Su Senior Services in Palmer. Participants are encouraged to bring memories and stories for “fun and even some mental exercise,” according to Palmer Arts Council’s flyer about the event.

The workshops run from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. each day, and each day has a different theme. Wednesday will focus on “Poems of a Single Moment,” Thursday’s focus will be “Poems from Memories” and Friday, “Poems of Surprise.” All workshops take place at Room 20 of Mat-Su Senior Services in Palmer. There is no charge and no preregistration is required.

Eberhart is a former Palmer resident who coordinated a similar poetry workshop at the Senior Center for Palmer Arts Council last year. She has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and her poems have appeared in “Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim” and have been recognized by the Fairbanks Arts Association and Palmer Arts Council. She blogs about poetry, writing and nature at and is working on a collection of poems about the Arctic.

OneTree project aims to demonstrate value of woodlands
If words aren’t your thing, how about woodwork? All Valley artists are invited to participate in OneTree, a project that intends to “show the unique value of woodlands by demonstrating the volume and quality of work that can be made from just one tree,” according to information from Valley Arts Alliance.

The project is a cooperative effort between the Arts Alliance, University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences.

To complete the project, a birch tree will be cut down in April and the wood dried. Wood will be distributed by the UAF Palmer Center for Sustainable Living at the Matanuska Experiment Farm on Trunk Road. Artists are welcomed to create anything from furniture to abstract pieces. The completed work will be displayed at the Alaska State Fair from Aug. 20 to Sept. 3. Artists will be able to keep their work.

Artists interested in participating should contact Valley Arts Alliance. More information is at their website,

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