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Nocturne 2018: Poemtree

Examining the meaning, music and power of language.


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Exhibit 307
5057 Salter Street

Don't alert the GMO activists just yet, but hundreds (possibly thousands) of poems can be seen growing from a huge weeping willow tree on the evening of Nocturne. Yes, you read that right—the Poemtree is here to give Haligonians a super-natural outlet to express themselves.

Inspired by Japanese traditions of hanging poems on blossoming cherry trees, Poemtree offers visitors an outlet to share their feelings with others by writing their words on slips of paper and hanging them on the tree.

"We're in a weird moment where people are twisting words a lot," says co-organizer Basma Kavanaugh. "This project is about examining the meaning, music and power of language so people can be in charge of what they say and how."

A poet herself, Kavanaugh—whose exhibition debuted at the Lumiere festival in Cape Breton last year along with fellow poet Sean Howard, says Poemtree will highlight poetry's importance when it comes to self-expression and connection. Illuminated by many balloon lights, the instillation's message will be bright and clear.

"It's about one subconscious reaching out and touching another," she says. "There's something behind what we say, as well as the surface of what we say, that is meaningful—when someone reads or sees that, they connect with it, that's where poetry's power is."

An installation in which visitors become both the poets and the audience, Kavanaugh wants each and every visitor to realize the power of poetry and its recognize it as a form of art we can all feel comfortable participating in.

"Last year people wrote poems about love, sadness, silly things—they had a sort of permission to do something with words that was very powerful," she says. "Poetry is something accessible and meaningful, it's not something esoteric or elitist, so I hope people take away a better understanding of it."

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