THE WINNERS!!: Joseph Beyer, Nick Loud and Chris Loud
THE BIG IDEA: Northern Michigan Haiku Roadshow!
I have permission to do a Northern Michigan version of a fascinating and simple public art project called The Haiku Roadsign. We will create a portable roadside-sign with a series of Haiku poems, curated from submissions by local writers, and managed by The Boardman Review literary journal. New poems will appear every few weeks, all summer long
I’ve partnered with Nick and Chris Loud, founders of the Northern Michigan literary and arts journal The Boardman Review. They will be co-presenting the project and taking the lead on curating Haiku submissions from the public, choosing poems and poets to highlight on our rotating sign, and helping me secure interesting locations for the sign around the region. I will be taking the lead on setting up an online submission portal for poems, securing and producing the logistics of the sign itself, and promoting the project as a whole.
I have always loved poetry and the unexpected ways poems can touch people at certain times of their life, especially unexpected ones. My mother writes Haiku poetry and at various times in my life, so did I – I’m more passionate about public art projects that truly give something back to their communities through true creativity, surprise and delight – I know this project could be that combo.
Ever since I contributed to the original project on Kickstarter years ago, I’ve dreamt of bringing this simple idea into a satellite incarnation. For me it combines a genuine love and reverence for the power of language, poetry and words alongside a public art project that is free and accessible to anyone – there is no barrier of entry. Possibly thousands of people a day could be passing this crazy sign on the roadside somewhere and having a short, mysterious interaction with an artwork – even without fully realizing it. I find the idea elegant and meaningful because it’s a surprise and it will hopefully take on a life of it’s own after we get it started. It’s sustainable. We only need poems and we only need cool spots and collaborators – it’s a living and breathing project I would get to enjoy often because each rotation of poets and locations creates and entirely refreshing and new experience.
– HOW DOES IT MAKE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON THE COMMUNITY?
Uh, free poems! Local writers! One crazy sign that can be moved around town like a traveling literature roadshow. We will celebrate words, places and people all at the same time. I think here especially in the Traverse City area, public art has been seen sometimes with skepticism and suspicion but this idea is innocent. The poems will be simple and uncontroversial, just moments that anyone can experience – whether walking past, biking by or catching a glance of the sign as they whiz past in their car. I think it gives an honest platform to local poets of any experience, there is no application fee or gateway to getting involved. Write a simple Haiku, send it in, and you may be featured in a matter of days on the sign. I think the temporal nature of it is also a gift – we don’t have to convince a committee or everyone to accept it for years to come. It’s fluid and moves in and out of spaces.
– WHAT WILL BE “PHASE ONE” OF YOUR BUSINESS PLAN, GETTING IT OFF THE GROUND?
The idea was originated in New Mexico years ago and resulted in a book of poems and photography in the end. I have permission from that artist to do a version of their idea here in Northern Michigan. I have looked on Craigslist for signs, and I have a list of locations I think might be interesting for parking our sign throughout the summer. I have also partnered with The Boardman Review team to manage the project. Michigan Legacy Art Park, which I manage as Executive Director, would be one of the locations for the sign.
To start, we will find and secure the sign itself and to move it to Thompsonville and set it up at the Michigan Legacy Art Park, after that we will create a hitlist of future locations and a schedule for rotating the sign itself which can be towed behind any vehicle with a hitch. The submission portal can be created within a day and launched almost immediately to start capturing submissions. Together with The Boardman Review I would issue a press release announcing the project and start running simple Facebook and Classified Ads seeking poems.
– WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR “PHASE 2” AS YOU MOVE IT AHEAD?
Once phase one is complete and a sign acquired, phase two becomes simply selecting new poems from submissions and rotating the sign to new locations every 2-3 weeks. There will be a natural end I think to the project when the season changes from summer to fall, and a final burst of Autumn activity and then, very naturally an end to the sign moving in the winter.
– HOW WILL YOU USE THE $500?
$400 of the grant would secure the sign, the sign letters and any towing equipment we’d need. If possible, I would like to use $100 of the grant to promote our Call for Submissions and market to local poets in creative and digital ways. It’s hard to think any of us could finance this project on our own, I work for a nonprofit organization and The Boardman Review is a literary journal just establishing itself – this grant would truly and instantly let us go out and make a tiny dream come true.
– WHEN DO YOU THINK THIS THING WILL LAUNCH?
As soon as we secure a sign, we are up and running so I’d expect within 2-3 weeks of receiving funds, we’d have our first poems displayed and an announcement of the project publicly.
– HOW CAN WE (THE AUDIENCE) GET INVOLVED OR SUPPORT?
One of the most fun opportunities with this project is to see how people interact with the work on Social Media, we think the combination of the unexpected public poetry with the visual potential of the sign in unlikely and remote places will make it something people will want to shoot and interact and post about. Every location would have a small project marker explaining what it is, who was involved, and promote a central hashtag for people to rally around. The interaction with the work is the final and most exciting component and something that will be hard to predict but wonderful to see happen.
Joseph Beyer, Michigan Legacy Art Park