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I have mentioned the Block Island Poetry Project in past years, and I wanted to let you know that I just got the scoop on this year’s theme.

Nancy writes, “The Block Island Poetry Project weekend will be April 16-19 and will focus on Poetry of the Wild, a project of Ana Flores, who visited just a few days ago to show us examples of what she’s been doing around the country for the last twelve years. … I’m in the process of developing my Poetry of the Wild poetry box project for the school.”

The Poetry of the Wild website explains, “Poetry of the Wild invites the public out for a walk to see their world anew through the keenly felt perspectives of poets and artists. Using a unique presentation of ‘poetry boxes’ that combine art and poetry, the project serves as a catalyst for exploring our towns and considering how place informs mindfulness. The public becomes engaged by finding the boxes which are sited as a network on mapped trails, reading the poems, and responding in the public journals contained in each.

“The sculptor Ana Flores created Poetry of the Wild in 2003 while she was the first artist in residence for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association in Southern Rhode Island. Her mission was to use the arts to foster public awareness and stewardship of the land and waterways protected by the Association. That first project had a dozen boxes created by students from area schools, members of the environmental group and other artists. The public response was overwhelming during its three month tenure. It turned out that many people roaming the trails were poetic– but they had had no place to express themselves. Journals were replaced three times and the trails leading to boxes also became less littered.”

For more about Ana’s work, see earthinform.com. And for more about the Block Island Poetry Project (founded by 2008-2013 Rhode Island poet laureate Lisa Starr), click here.

Ana Flores

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I’ve told the story of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” many times to my oldest grandchild and was delighted that he responded with a wide grin when I later used — in a completely different context — the phrase “It was just ri-ight.” Everybody in the world seems to know those words from the Grimms’ fairy tale.

So when the audience heard the phrase Sunday in a locally flavored skit to benefit the island medical center, the line got a laugh. One of many.

In this case, the familiar plot points (porridge too hot, door not locked, trespassing girl) had been repurposed into the trial of Gold E. Locks, whom the Three Deer accused of bad manners for the usual (entering uninvited, eating the porridge all up, breaking the chair, sleeping in the bed).

Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons played the judge and Christopher Walken’s wife, Georgianne, was the jury foreman. (“You’re not the foreman!” declared an indignant deer on the jury. “You’re just a Walk-in.”) But many of the biggest laughs were garnered by those who are famous only locally.

The story really had to be about deer because one of the biggest challenges the medical center has today is diagnosing and treating disease borne by deer ticks. (Three deer introduced to the island in the 1950s multiplied into a major problem. Lots of jokes about the people responsible.)

As unpolished as the entertainment was, the packed house was hugely supportive. In fact, the audience joined the fray. When the honorable counsel for the Locks family charged that the deer home with the open door and fragrant porridge was an “attractive nuisance,” a man in the back shouted, “Do you charge by the minute or the hour?” The answer: “I charge the same rate I charge in Manhattan.”

OK. Maybe you had to be there. The main story I took away was how many people wanted to donate to the medical center and how indulgent and open that made them. And yes, I laughed at all the jokes.

More here.

Photo:  John Freidah/The Providence Journal files /

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