Roadside Poetry in running for grant [UPDATED]Published 4:55pm Thursday, November 11, 2010 Updated 5:10pm Thursday, November 11, 2010
Thanks to Roadside Poetry, Fergus Falls residents don’t have to step outside their cars to enjoy the written word.
Now the project is in the running for a grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project, and creator Paul Carney is hoping to gather enough votes online to win a $25,000 grant and support the project for at least a year.
Funding is based on the number of votes a project proposal receives at the end of a 30-day voting window. Visitors can vote once a day through Nov. 30 at www.refresheverything.com/roadsidepoetry, and the top ten ideas receive funding.
Roadside Poetry consists of four signs along a road spaced about 25 yards apart, with each sign containing one verse of a four-line poem. The first site has been along the boulevard of Tower Road just north of the College Way intersection.
“Rural roads are heavily traveled in these areas, and I thought we could expose the public to poetic language that would capture an image of the season or the landscape and leave them with a picture or reflection in their mind as they drive by, something that might remind them of a place they’ve been, a season or a memory,” said Carney, an English teacher at Minnesota State Community and Technical College.
The project began in Fall 2008 with funding from the Fergus Area College Foundation. Carney hoped to expand the project to rural roads throughout the state and change the poems once every four to six weeks, but with dwindling funds, Roadside Poetry has remained in Fergus Falls, and, for the last year, the poem has been changed once every season rather than once a month.
If the project wins the Pepsi Refresh Project grant, the $25,000 would provide funding to support the project at three sites, with poems changed monthly. It costs about $2,000 to erect four structures to hold the banners for the poems, which are printed in large letters on vinyl. Each banner is $150 to print, making each new poem $600, but Carney said the poems would be recycled if there were more than one site to save money — for instance, a poem from Fergus Falls could be installed at another site, where it would be “new” to those in the area, and vice versa.
The project invites students and residents of all ages to submit four lines of original verse for consideration and posting on upcoming Roadside Poetry signs. To ensure the poem will fit on the signs, each line of verse can be no more than 20 characters, including spaces. Carney said the poems chosen are typically those that have strong imagery.
“As the motorists drive by, I want them to see something in their imagination and hopefully it will leave some kind of impression,” he said.
For more information on Roadside Poetry or to submit a poem, visit www.roadsidepoetry.org. To vote for the project to win a $25,000 Pepsi Refresh Project grant, visit www.refresheverything.com/roadsidepoetry. Visitors can vote once a day until Nov. 30.