Napa County’s poet laureate Leonore Wilson has created a “poem home” that will be installed next week along the river trail at Veterans Memorial Park.
The poem home is a wooden box, with a clear face and a lid, filled with poems submitted to Wilson by Napa County residents. Wilson’s own poem, “The Monarchs,” will be among the collection. She hopes to have as many as 50 different poems inside the box.
Napa Parks and Recreation officials plan to install the box along a railing, under a lamp, and within view of security cameras to prevent vandalism. They opted not to install the box along the river wall in case of flooding.
After the poem home is installed, passersby will be welcome to open the box and take a poem to read and enjoy, Wilson said.
The purpose of the poem home, according to Wilson, is to offer people the chance to appreciate the “music of language” and to enhance their experience while walking along the Napa River.
“This is what I hope poem homes will do for people — find a release from daily stress by walking in the elements, opening the home, choosing a poem and finding salve,” Wilson said.
Wilson said she got the idea for a poem home after hearing about similar projects in Benicia and Portland, Ore. Portland is home to more than 100 “poetry posts,” which are mostly located on private property throughout the city.
If the poem home along Napa’s river trail proves to be successful, Wilson plans to install additional boxes in American Canyon, St. Helena, and Calistoga.
The poem home project was authorized by Parks and Recreation, with endorsement by Napa County Supervisor Brad Wagenknecht and Arts Council Napa Valley, Wilson said.
All poems need to be submitted via email to Wilson, who will need to approve the poem before putting it in the box. She plans to update the box weekly.
Wilson said she hopes the call for poetry submissions will encourage more local poets to come “out of their caves and engage.”
“Poetry takes meditation and patience and dedication. Writing a poem can take a day or a year or more,” she said. “Poetry, as I see it, is especially in demand today as we live in a world of climate change, war, poverty, corporate takeover and other pressing issues.”