Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Vow to Poetry

I named this post after a book.  It sat on my bookshelf for years, but I think I finally sold it in one of my fits of purging.  I loved the title of the book, maybe because people don't vow much any more and we probably should, but I never could get into the book.

This post is not about books, but it is about poetry.

In walks around my neighborhood of northeast Portland lately, I've been seeing wooden display boxes affixed to a wooden post.  Inside the display box is, generally, a poem, though at times you might also see a photo or a quote. 

I love these boxes and delight when I come upon one. 

Saturday morning, eating breakfast at a new cafe, I happened to read an article in the neighborhood newspaper about the boxes.  I learned that they are called Poetry Posts and are made by a northeast Portland resident. 

I am getting me one for my birthday which is a mere twelve days hence.

I plan to post poetry on a weekly basis, interspersing it with quotes, an occasional math theorem from my son, maybe some flash fiction.  So here's my question to you–what poems, quotes, or small pieces of prose should I include?  (Don't worry, I don't expect you, the wonderful readers of my writing blog, to come up with math theorems.)  The box is big enough to display one 8 1/2 by 11 size piece of paper. 

I can't wait to read your suggestions.  And be sure to check out the link to the Poetry Posts, because they are just too cool.  (And note that they look better than the one in the photo, which is courtesy of takomabibelot on Flickr, taken in Maryland.  I'm all for public displays of poetry, but I still think my Poetry Post is cooler.)

0 thoughts on “Vow to Poetry

  1. J.D.

    What a great idea for the city! Congratulations on getting your own. I assume these can be published poems since you aren’t selling copies or charging to look at your box. I don’t know squat about poetry, but even a blind bee finds a rose occasionally. Since I first read it in January, I have loved the poem Sakura Park by Rachel Wetzsteon. The book is on its way to my house as we speak. Take a look; you my find it as endlessly thought-provoking as I do. http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/19079

  2. Charlotte

    Hi J.D., That’s a great way to start the suggestions rolling, thanks. I do find the poem evocative and suggestive and that is my favorite kind of poem–the kind you can read over and over again and find something new every time. Like a good painting…

  3. Jessica

    I’ve been thinking about this during the day, and I keep coming back to the same thought. I must get it out of my head, if only for my peace of mind, so please excuse me if it sounds a little strange.

    Like J.D. I’m not a big indulger in poetry, but I do collect pieces I like. Being that kind of person, I would suggest you ensure the poems you use are those relatively easy to understand by the average Joe. (Read: the poet Burns is right out.) Reading poetry, like tasting wine, has a bit of a stigma about it. Some people, myself included, get nervous about reading it in public just in case we don’t ‘get it.’ What if we read it, found it thoroughly confusing, and then someone comes up behind us and says, “What wonderful artistic vision to use the ‘beating heart’ right after a ‘falling petal’, wouldn’t you agree?” or “What about that trochee on the third line, eh?” In other words, what if we are asked to present an ‘intelligent’ response once finished?

    So, I envision a successful Poetry Post being one which creates a smile, a chuckle, or the unmistakable twinkle of thought in the eye. These things are infectious and spark curiosity in others, which leads to more people reading the poetry. If only diehard poet lovers would appreciate the poem, perhaps save it for a poetry reading. (In my humble opinion, while trying not to sound like I’m telling you what you should do.)

    And I have rambled past what I was going to say. Back to topic: My favourite poets are Ogden Nash and Banjo Patterson (especially The Man from Ironbark). I also love The Day McDougal Topped the Score by Thomas E. Spencer. The ‘good’ news is I believe all of them are dead so finding examples of their poetry on the net shouldn’t be too hard.

  4. Roy

    Hey Charlotte:

    How about Hemingway’s six word story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

    And there is always “The Lanyard,” by Billy Collins. You can find it online at:


    Great idea. Would like to have one on the wooden deck that surround part of the pool!


  5. Charlotte Dixon

    Jessica, You make an excellent point. Come to think of it, the poems I’ve read in Poetry Posts around town have all been fairly simply and readily digestible. Ogden Nash is a great suggestion, and I’ll check out the others as well.

    Roy, I love the idea of Hemingway’s six word story! I think I read recently about an anthology of such stories, maybe I could find more of them.

  6. Maryse

    Funny you should talk about poetry when I finally post a poem again on my blog. Took me a while to get the muse going. I think Portland’s initiative is wonderful!! And your too. I agree. Keep to poems that are clear and don’t lose themselves into the maze of poetical license. Can’t wait to read them!

  7. Charlotte Dixon

    Maryse, I’m glad you are back to poetry! Sometimes that muse is elusive, isn’t she (or he, whatever you prefer)? Good advice about seeking clarity for the poems I post. Thanks!

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