David Madacsi has an ambiguous relationship with the ocean. His home along the Mystic River flooded during Hurricane Sandy. A mooring buoy with a rusty chain was one of the pieces of detritus that washed onto his property. He intended to throw it away, but he couldn't bring himself to do it.
"During the weeks of cleanup that followed, the word 'tenuous' frequently entered my mind as I imagined the state of the house and of moorings in the harbor during the storm and flooding," he said.
So Madacsi wrote a haiku poem: "Rising waters churn, Tenuous moorings straining …Oblivious storm."
Madacsi's poem is one of seven in "Poetry of the Wild," an interactive art installation at the UConn campus in Groton, which sits on the pretty Avery Point promontory on Long Island Sound.
Each poem in "Poetry of the Wild" are housed inside a sculpture created by the artist. The poetry boxes follow the brick walkway alongside the Sound. Madacsi chose as his "box" that wayward buoy. "The idea of using the mooring buoy as a poetry 'box' and preliminary thoughts of a Haiku referencing 'tenuous moorings' seem to have emerged simultaneously," he said. " 'Tenuous' became the title of my Haiku as well as the name of an imaginary vessel I imprinted on the mooring buoy."
"Poetry of the Wild" was created and curated by Ana Flores, a 1974 graduate of West Hartford's Conard High School, who now lives in Charlestown, R.I. This is the tenth year of "Poetry of the Wild," which began in Rhode Island and also has been mounted in Colorado, Massachusetts, England and, starting last year, Connecticut. All of the contributors except Flores live in Connecticut.
The first poem and poetry box along the brick walkway are Flores'. When she wrote her poem, she too was trying to write a poem about the ocean. She didn't realize until the poem was finished that it would be an homage to her Cuban father: "Cuba and Connecticut share nothing except the sea. Now we lived in Connecticut, but we didn't live by the sea. When we drove to the beach, my mother sat under her umbrella and my father wore dark glasses."
Flores' box is "an architectural homage" to her father. "When I was a child, he designed a playhouse with an asymmetrical roof," she said. "So I designed a box with an asymmetrical roof." It is constructed of plastic sheeting, aluminum and old wooden rulers, an homage to her father's profession. He was an architect. Inside the box sits the skull of a seagull.
Each poetry box, in addition to the poem, contains a small notepad for visitors to record their impressions.
Julia Pavone, director of the Alexey von Schlippe Gallery of Art on the campus, created a box with her husband, Mark Dixon, a fisheries biologist. The "seaside studio" created by Pavone and Dixon is in the form of a house, with a tiny Adirondack chair, a little chest, a real rhododendron plant and a painting on the wall. On the exterior of the house, there are fish painted.
They didn't write a poem. They chose their favorite by Pablo Neruda: "I came here to count the bells that live upon the surface of the sea, that sound over the sea, within the sea. So, here I live."
Susan Schultz was inspired to create her box by seaside shrines she saw in Italy. "Often they are a niche or box, with beautiful shells in patterns as decoration. Instead of a Madonna inside, I have a moon snail shell." Her poem is Nancy Willard's "The Human Error."
"My sculpture deals with the ocean, and human effects upon it," she said. "In the end of the poem, the narrator reflects on the effect of her touch on the shell."
Alexander Waid, an instructor at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, wrote a poem, "Raven Night Love": "We embraced on the shore with no more walls to close us in than the sea and the sky." It sits inside a box created by Randall Paterson, the student affairs director on the UConn Groton campus.
Other artists who participated in "Poetry of the Wild" are Diane Barcelo and Troy West.
In addition to the Groton installment of "Poetry of the Wild," another series of poetry-box installations curated by Flores has opened in Mystic. Boxes are at Mystic Seaport, the Mystic & Noank Library, Haley Farm State Park, the Peace Sanctuary, Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream, Ender's Island, Mystic Fine Art/High Street Gallery Studio, Mystic Art Center (two boxes), Bank Square Books and the Denison Homestead. Artists and poets participating in the Mystic installation include Joanie DiMartino, Carol Watson, Steve Watson, Syma Ebbin, Michael Kane, Lili Kane, Sean Kane, Michael Gore, Helen Kane, Sadie Davidson Devore, Dan Potter, Lucy Turner, Mili Ebbin and Sally Motycka.
POETRY OF THE WILD will continue at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus in Groton until Friday, Aug. 30. The Mystic poetry boxes will be up until Friday, Aug. 30. A poetry walk among the Mystic boxes will be on Saturday, June 29, at 3 p.m., beginning at the Mystic Art Center, 9 Water St. Details on both installations: www.earthinform.com.Copyright © 2015, CT Now