Poetry Path Gets An Update

by Brooke Thames

IN LEWISBURG, PA., poetry isn’t confined to pages housed in libraries and bookstores. It’s also found among the streets, parks and monuments along Bucknell’s Poetry Path. Visitors, residents and Bucknellians alike can now experience an updated selection of poems along the 1-mile stroll through the University’s campus and downtown.

Inaugurated in 2012 by the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts, the path features 10 stops at culturally significant Lewisburg sites — from a barn that served as a station on the Underground Railroad to the historic town cemetery to a 19th-century church. At each destination, pedestrians can find a marker featuring a poem selected for its thematic resonance with the location. The poem placed at a Civil War memorial, for example, reflects on the enduring scars of war, while the piece at Bucknell’s student center ponders the power of knowledge.

“This iteration is noteworthy because we have cherished poems by historical poets like Gerard Manley Hopkins and Robert Hayden mingled with our usual mix of living poets,” says Stadler Center Program Manager Andrew Ciotola. “There’s a ’90s poem at the kids’ playground, a mid-2000s selection at the post office and a piece written in 2018 at the park downtown.”

Among the contemporary stanzas is a reflection on the art of poetry itself titled A Kind of Poetry, which marks the path’s start at the Stadler Center and was written by one of the center’s former postgraduate fellows. While this is the first time a Bucknell fellow’s work has been included in the installation, both undergraduates and postgraduates are often incorporated into the Poetry Path’s selection process.

“We love inviting our staff and students to reflect on art-making and help connect poetry to the common sites we experience as we move about our lives in Lewisburg,” says Ciotola. “Poetry by its nature is a way of dialing in to those short, quiet moments of daily life. The goal of the path is to get poetry off the page and quite literally out into the world, into people’s everyday moments.”