mnartists.org is proud to announce the launch of “Art on Foot,” a collaborative project with Silverwood Park in St. Anthony. We’re taking work by local artists and writers out of the gallery and off the page, and bringing them into the natural lake-and-greenery setting of Silverwood.
Can you imagine any lovelier way to spend a sunny, late-summer afternoon than to stroll the sylvan trails of this urban park space and, say, dial up a fantastic poem or story by a beloved local writer? As you walk, you’ll also stumble across installations and sculptures by notable area artists, tucked into the green environs along the way.
In celebration of this new partnership, we’re hosting a day-long festival with Silverwood, Field Trip; in honor of the occasion, we’ll be rolling out one “poetry cell stop” along the park’s trails each week, six in all, from now until September 24, the day of the festival.
With Poetry in the Park, you simply dial up a phone number and listen to a handpicked selection of little literary gems by some of our favorite Minnesota poets and flash fiction writers. We’ve got two stops up and ready for you already, featuring poems by Tim Nolan and Gary Dop; 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 Cell Stop” authors read their pieces live on writer-led 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 Gary Dop
Do you work according to a set routine, or is your schedule more whimsical, or catch-as-catch can, depending on how the mood strikes you or opportunity presents itself?
I have three young daughters and I teach, and as a result I have not developed a set schedule; however, I do manage to write between 5 and 7 days a week. I once managed to write 10 days one week, but that got me into trouble with the people who keep time—they’re very stingy. My best writing seems to be born of muse-inspired moments in which I’ll see, hear, or experience something that resonates, and I’ll know I have to consider it on the page.
What items are sitting on your desktop right now?
My desktop at home has Legos (the ugly big ones for little kids), bills, a wedding invitation for which I forgot to RSVP, and smattering of rejection letters and stickers. My desk at work has quizzes from last semester (all graded, of course), a few books I’m considering for classes, and three to five stacks of miscellaneous documents that I’ll eventually throw away one by one. My desk at Banfil-Locke Center for the Arts, where I’m currently writer-in-residence has nothing on it but a few plastic rose petals that were there when I took over the position 6 months ago. I love that naked desk. It’s inspiring.
Are you a one-at-a-time, monogamous sort of reader or are you promiscuous in your reading habits?
I’m certainly a promiscuous reader, and I have a short attention span, so if a book doesn’t blow me away I’m likely to give up on it.
Are there authors you return to again and again?
I reread Ronald Wallace’s book of poems, People and Dog in the Sun. He writes the kind of poetry I love to read, and that book, without question, moves me more than any other book of poems I’ve ever read.
What is on your night stand?
There’s no reading material on my nightstand. I don’t read in bed. I sleep there. Usually I sleep there. Sometimes I lay there and wish I were sleeping, but reading has never helped me sleep. Perhaps I should give it a try.
Do you have an unfinished poem that still haunts you?
I have a number of poems that still haunt me. I just finished one titled “Amy Grant Kissed Me” that I’ve been working on for around five years. It’ll haunt me till it’s published I suppose.
Is there a local writer whose work you’re into lately?
A few MN writers I really enjoy: Dobby Gibson, Deborah Keenan, Kevin Fenton, Richard Robbins…
What’s your favorite local bookshop?
Having three young daughters, I really appreciate the Red Balloon Bookshop, but my favorite shop is Garrison Keillor’s Common Good Books, but my reasoning has very little to do with the book store itself—I love Common Good Books because they hold many of their readings in the Swedenborgian Church across the street, and there are few things that give me as much pleasure as hearing great literature in a religious space.
Do you remember the first time you encountered a poet that grabbed you and wouldn’t let go?
Strangely enough, one of the first poets that grabbed me was John Milton. I took a course in Milton as an undergrad, and the power of Milton’s syntax and his divine scope and ambition shook me. Reading Paradise Lost, particularly the opening of Book I, felt like I was hearing a work older than mankind, something born with the wind and waves, churned up with the thunder of the primal explosions. He opens basically by claiming his epic trumps all epics because he will be speaking for God to all of mankind.
Finally, I have this conviction that we all enjoy a bit of trashy stuff from time to time. ‘Fess up – what’s the best god-awful piece of writing you ever read?
The best god-awful piece of writing I ever read was a Danielle Steele book my grandmother had on her shelf beside where I slept at the top of the steps. I chose it instead of the dozens of classics on the shelf because the cover made my adolescent mind believe that the book would be full of every pubescent boy’s dream. The book was awful — the cover, inspiring.
Gary Dop — poet, playwright, professor, and comic — lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three young daughters. His poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in North American Review, New Letters, Poetry Northwest, New York Quarterly, Rattle, Agni and the Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry, among others. Dop directs the Taproot Reading Series in Minneapolis’ Elliot Park Neighborhood.
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 Gary Dop, right now, as you walk Silverwood Park’s trails:
“Bill Bitner at the Henry Doorly Zoo”
“After the Tornado of ‘62, Indianola, Iowa”
“Father, Child, Water”