To kick off our new partnership with Silverwood Park, “Art on Foot,” in style we’re jointly hosting Field Trip, a day-long arts festival in late September.
With this joint venture, we aim to incorporate art and literature into the park’s sylvan setting. One of the central projects of “Art on Foot,” Poetry in the Park, allows visitors to access poems and stories by phone as they hike through the trails.
With Poetry in the Park, you simply dial up a phone number and listen to a handpicked selection of little literary gems read aloud by some of our favorite Minnesota poets and flash fiction writers. We’ve got three stops up and ready for you already, featuring poems by Tim Nolan, Gary Dop and our 2010 mnLIT flash fiction winner, Hillary Wentworth; an additional “cell stop” highlighting stories or poems by a new Minnesota writer will go live in the park each week until the festival in September.
Look for Q & As here on the blog each week in the meantime, introducing you to the program’s featured writers as their “stops” go live. Also, you can meet the “Art on Foot” participating artists and hear the “Poetry in the Park” authors read their pieces live on writer-led hiking tours through the trails during the Field Trip festival.
Find details on the upcoming Field Trip festival and participating projects over the coming weeks on mnartists.org/field_trip
Meet the folks of “Art on Foot:” Poet Tim Nolan
Do you write according to a set routine, or is your schedule more catch-as-catch can?
I write whenever and wherever I can. I don’t have any schedule. I don’t sit at a desk. Often I sit out in the front yard in a nice wicker chair with my notebook. My writing habits are nomadic — coffee shops and restaurants can be good places for me. I find I have more possibilities if I’m outside rather than inside.
Are you a monogamous or a promiscuous reader?
I am very promiscuous in my reading. I have absolutely no loyalty. If a book doesn’t grab me I let it go and move on to something else. I usually have three or four things going at a time. Lately, I’ve been reading books from the library on a Nook Color.
What books do you return to again and again?
I love non-fiction. I read few novels. I don’t have the level of commitment required to learn about made-up characters in made-up plots. I have read hundreds of books on Lincoln over the years, everything I can find. He is a figure who gets better, somehow, with study.
I love Shakespeare and come back to the sonnets and plays often. Same with Homer. Elizabeth Bishop is always inspiring. Ditto Wallace Stevens. There are certain contemporary poets I pay special attention to—Adam Zagajewski, Louise Gluck, Tony Hoagland, W.S. Merwin, Philip Levine, Jack Gilbert. Locally—Joyce Sutphen, Connie Wanek, Jim Moore, Louis Jenkins.
What are you reading right now?
Do your unfinished pieces haunt you?
I have lots of poems that never go anywhere. Never make it out of handwritten form in a notebook. I don’t think about these poems at all. I don’t even think of them as poems. I think some people have a distorted sense of the value of their words—most of the words we set down are valueless. Once in awhile, something clicks for no apparent good reason. You can’t write the good stuff (or ever know if it’s good) without making all kinds of false starts.
When did you first encounter a poet who grabbed you and wouldn’t let go?
When I was in college I loved John Milton—passages in Paradise Lost—just great! Keats always gets to me—even as he’s swooning.
What about terrible poetry? Any favorite, truly memorable god-awful poems you’ve encountered?
It’s not very worthwhile to talk about poems that don’t work. Allen Ginsberg, in his enthusiasm, wrote some poems that are forgettable Everyone has written bad poems at one time or another. You hope some good friend, who knows and loves you, will point out the clinkers.
Tim Nolan lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Kate, and three teenagers, Elizabeth, Maeve, and Frank. Tim works as a lawyer at the McGrann Shea law firm in Minneapolis. His poems have appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, Poetry East, and many other magazines. Garrison Keillor has read Tim’s poems on The Writer’s Almanac. His first book of poems, The Sound of It, was published by New Rivers Press in 2008, and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award in poetry.
Poetry in the Park is part of Silverwood Park’s new “Art on Foot” program, created in collaboration with mnartists.org, which allows you to enjoy work from Minnesota artists and authors along the trails. Bring the family back to the park on September 24, and meet all of the “Art on Foot” artists in person during Field Trip, a day-long festival with live music and theater, poet-led hikes with readings along the trails, and much more. The festival is a joint effort of mnartists.org and Silverwood Park. Find additional links, work, and information from the “Art on Foot” artists and writers, and get all the details about the line-up for Field Trip online at www.mnartists.org/field_trip.
Listen to the following poems by Tim Nolan, right now, as you walk Silverwood Park’s trails: