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Unusual winter harvest: poems in Forest Park

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poetree project

Mallory Nezam and Henry Goldkamp work on their Poetree project in November at Sasha's Wine Bar in the Shaw neighborhood. Photo by Carly Hilo

It might be too cold here to harvest fruit, but poetry is always in season.

On Saturday, the Poetree Project will hang poems from trees in Forest Park, leaving the handwritten work for anyone to pluck and mail to others. A phone book will be on hand, along with a short list of people who would like a receive a poem from a stranger.

Artists Henry Goldkamp and Mallory Nezam are calling it a "winter harvest."

Goldkamp (project manager of What the Hell Is St. Louis Thinking?) and Nezam (director of STL Improv Anywhere) have set the harvest from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday in a grove of trees southeast of the St. Louis Art Museum, near the Zoo. 

So far the artists have received about 400 poems; about half are original. (Although handwritten poems are preferred, one can email poems to thepoetreeproject@gmail.com through today.) 

Poetree projects have taken place in other cities, Goldkamp and Nezam are trying to personalize this one. Nezam noted by email:

"People have installed poems on trees before, but what makes our project quite different is that we are sourcing material from the broader community, we are inviting people to actually pluck the poems off of the tree, and we are going to have pre-stamped envelopes on-site for people to send poems out into the ether. So the project doesn't just stop at installation, but really continues onward to touch other lives. ...

"After people pluck a poem from the tree, they will send it off in one of our pre-stamped envelopes. We've been working with local designer Kirsten O'Loughlin to create some beautiful custom ink stamps that will adorn both the poems and the envelopes."

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