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Arts & Life

Poets Gather At Main St. Square Sculpture Project

Photo by Jim Kent

Community members gathered at Rapid City’s Main Street Square to try their hand at ekphrasis: creating writing based on art. The subject was the Passage of Wind and Water sculpture project. The form of writing used was poetry.

It’s a beautiful autumn afternoon in Rapid City as a dozen poets sit next to the expansive Passage of Wind and Water sculpture; their minds and pens at the ready.

Christine Stewart is an associate professor at South Dakota State University in Brookings. Stewart says the goal of ekphrasis is to show how one art form can influence another and fits in perfectly with plans for the Passage of Wind and Water sculpture project.

“One of the goals of the sculpture project is to get the public and the community involved in this place and the making of this place,” Stewart explains. “And so I envision collecting words and phrases and lines from the participants in the workshop and doing multiple workshops.” 

Christine Stewart will then layer all those words, lines and phrases into a collaborative choral poem.

“And what that is,” she continues, “is I’ll put them all together, I’ll piece them together like a quilt. And then a choral poem is a poem spoken by multiple voices. So, we’ll have three or four people…once person will say one line, another person will say a line and then bot of those people will say a line together. So, it’s kind of a musical spoken poem.”

“There’s a tension in the wind-smoothing work,” reads one woman attending the workshop. “Teeth, skeleton, bone…”

‘Cool granite transforms metaphor as the spiraled form of an ancient sea creature lets me put my hand upon the past,” reads another.

“Striped lines and well-defined parking spaces replaced with fountains, laughter, light and our geological history etched in granite sculptures...a downtown revitalized,” reads one more poet.

Portions of this and other poetry workshops will combine into Christine Stewart’s collaborative choral poem. A recording of that poem is among the highlights of next summer’s cross-artistic celebration of the Passage of Wind and Water sculpture project.