Assistant Arts & Life Editor
The University’s new Poetry Path connects the environment, as well as time, to the written and spoken word of poetry.
Led by Shara McCallum, director of the Stadler Center for Poetry, the inaugural tour of the Poetry Path took place on the afternoon of Aug. 24, before the start of Lewisburg’s annual downtown Street Fair. Students, faculty and community members gathered below the marquee of the Campus Theatre on Market Street for the first stop of the inaugural tour.
“Poetry asks that we pay attention to what is around us and also allows us to reflect on where we stand in a particular moment in time,” McCallum said. “The poems on the Poetry Path all reflect some aspect of the history and/or the physical setting (natural or man-made) of each site.”
The inaugural tour began and ended downtown, beginning at Bucknell Hall, passing the underground railroad, the post office, the Lewisburg Cemetery, Hufnagle Park, Kidsburg Playground, the intersection of Seventh Street and Moore Avenue, the churches and the Civil War monument.
“The impulse behind the Path, for me, was to make poetry a part of people’s everyday lives and to provide a bridge between the campus community and the Lewisburg community,” McCallum said.
The tour consists of 10 markers, featuring a variety of pieces from renowned artists, like Gary Soto, Bruce Lansky, Dorianne Laux and Naomi Shihab Nye, who will have a poetry reading Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Stadler Center. Each marker represents the connection between the poem and the location, and each poem pays tribute to Lewisburg’s unique and cultural history in this way.
“Poetry is my favorite art form, and I loved how the tour combined it with history and community,” Lauren Feldman ’14 said. “The fact that the sites are both on and off campus, and that students, faculty and Lewisburg residents all attended the tour, gave me a sense of belonging–both within Bucknell and within the town as a whole.”
Participants who take the tour have the opportunity to hear the poets recite their own work. Although the poems are posted at each marker to read, participants with smartphones can access a link online to actually hear a recording of each poem.
“Poems are steeped in an oral tradition and are attentive to fixed or variable patterns of rhythm and rhyme, as well as to the inflections of human speech,” McCallum said. “When you hear a poem aloud, the sonic aspect of the poem is brought to the foreground.”
The Poetry Path tour was part of the “Arts. Everywhere.” festival that took place in downtown Lewisburg and on campus.
“I am so glad I went and would definitely suggest other students to take the tour on their own time! It was wonderful to read about the history of all these important locations on Bucknell’s campus and downtown Lewisburg, and reading relevant poems at every stop really enriches the experience,” Lindsay Allardyce ’14 said.
The Poetry Path is handicapped accessible and is open year-round. Upcoming Poetry Path events can be viewed on the University website, under the Stadler Center for Poetry Poetry Path Events.