The Poetree Project

Sow. Plant. Harvest. Scatter.

Anonymous said: Someone sent me a poem anonymously. Is there anyway to find out who sent it? I really have no clue who sent it.

We did a lot of random recipients of this project via phone book spontaneity, and perhaps you simply got lucky. However, we also told folks participating that they may send poems anonymously. Your guess is good as mine. I hope it was meaningful in some way. Love, the poetree project.

Did you receive a mysterious poem in the mail? Lucky you. You are now part of The Poetree Project. Here’s how this made its way to you:

A month ago, St. Louis-based artists Mallory Nezam and Henry Goldkamp (that’s us!) began collecting poems from the public—people sent in original work as well as favorites. We then installed 1,000 poems in a grove of trees in Forest Park (St. Louis, MO), hanging like fruit. We opened the installation up for The Winter Harvest on Dec. 14th, a day for the public to come pluck a poem, and mail it it off in a pre-stamped envelope. Visitors braved a freshly-fallen snow day, and sent poems to friends, family, lovers, old addresses, and strangers found from skimming a phone book on-site. You were one of the recipients.




Anonymous said: where do we email the poems for the tree? Thanks!

Poetree Project Co-Creators Mallory and Henry at the Kick-Off Party at Sasha’s on Shaw.

Why winter?

If it were not obvious enough, there is a great deal of purpose behind absorbing The Poetree Project into the midst of winter. This post is to unfold that molten & integral purpose, and to convince you that this is as beautiful as we know it is. I assure you, it will not be difficult, friends.

As the leaves catch fire within the most recent autumnal force, the power of said natural decor is impossible to miss. We drown in winsome color. Our eyes turn to breaded sops, soaking in the falling gravy. This type of magic goes undisguised, nearly rude in its appearance. We marvel. We praise.

But let us praise intelligently— stash the memory away for lonelier, more pallid days throughout the winter of contemplation.

And that is exactly what will be provided on the day of installation: chopped thoughts to pluck from trees & time; piecemeal words with strangers as brave as you to face the bitter cold, and for what?  To think of the quietude between your feet and the snow. To watch lifelessness reign from each small wooden throne, making life more meaningful as any sounding sign of it carries easily through dead air. To harvest individual godlings of wordage which flutter throughtout the once empty space. To gaze longingly at the temptation to wander another’s quixotic thoughtways that demand a closer look. That’s for what.

I do not imagine it would take long to realize the words have always been there, entranced and floating, waiting for you, whether visible or not. Those words were always there for you, pining for your slow touch, bringing its future out of hibernation. Those words were always there.

Words meant only to float again through the post, across the highways, into the hands of the non-expecting and soon-to-be-inspired. And they have been always been there at their kitchen tables waiting with trembling patience.

Fur wept into the carpet,
unlike dogged minds
simplified at the wonder
of such stupid smiles.

Fur wept into the carpet,


unlike dogged minds

simplified at the wonder

of such stupid smiles.

A reporter from Alive Magazine sent me these questions about TPP today. Right after I finished them he had already been submitted the article, sooo I thought I’d share them on the blog instead:
What do you think the Poetree Project accomplishes? The Poetree Project hopes to make poetry less intimidating. It hopes to coax the poet out in each of us. It hopes to celebrate communal experience, to get people out in the city in the winter, to share disparate experiences, to hold each other in our own, unique vulnerabilities. TPP is an opportunity to share some of the deepest parts of ourselves in a safe (and anonymous) way with strangers throughout the city. We are hoping it will bring understanding and connectivity between St. Louisans. But it doesn’t stop there. The project continues onwards when each plucked poem gets mailed out. And so our snippets of St. Louis experience get scattered out into the world, creating an even larger web of humanity - perhaps reminding us that first, we are connected to each other here, in this place that is St. Louis, but also to everyone else everywhere ever.

Does poetry transcend human experience? Poetry is simultaneously human experience at it’s utmost poignancy, and sometimes that poignance is so astute that it allows you to feel connected with something so much greater than yourself.

We’re hoping the project will tell the story of the human experience, of the St. Louis experience. Each poem will be a a slice of the insides of a person (vulgar?). And it takes a lot of courage to submit, to turn yourself inside out and hang secrets on a tree for people you don’t know to see.

However, I think this courageous act, when we all share it, baring our souls at the same time in the same grove on the same day, it’s not so scary. It is empowering; it is inspiring. I imagine myself laying down in the middle of the grove, looking up, watching the poems sway in the wind and feeling simultaneously overwhelmed by the utter vehemence above me, and soothed by the silent hum of our collective spirits.
11-14-13. Our most recent joint poem, written post-planning session at Sasha’s on Shaw.
#candlelight #poetry #stl #poetreeproject #poemsintrees #jointpoem #jointpoetry


SAT, NOV 16 - 7PM to 1:30AM

SASHA’S ON SHAW (4069 Shaw Ave, 63110)

Our sponsors include KDHX, Schlafly Beer, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Perennial, Urban Breath, Preservation Research Office, Bissinger’s Chocolatier, STL-STyLe, 10Denza, The Old Rock House, Letter to Memphis, SkinCare24 Spasalon, Eve’s Apple Vintage, and Carly Hilo Photography.

Mallory assigned me a very annoying assignment a couple of weeks ago. I say annoying because rather than leaving me alone with something poetic or fictional, she twisted the hand I write with behind my back, causing both extreme pain and discomfort, and taunting along like the bully she is, proclaimed she would not let go until I cried “SCIENCE! SCIENCE!!”

            Well, what was actually said was: “If St. Louis were a tree, what type of tree would it be? Please include genus & species at top of description, and image or rendering if possible. Get both scientific and poetic.”

            Regardless, I am so far from scientific mindedness that it was basically the same thing. This is not to say I do not believe in science—I just come from a preference of simply be subject to it, rather than understanding it.

            But I did the research, learned some things I’m bound to forget by next week, and ended up providing you with the awesome discovery that Saint Louis is totally a Tilia tree. Here’s why.

            The first thing I took note of was the multitude of species which fall under the Tilia genus. Every morning when I step out of my front door, I am reminded by the wide array of neighbors, church-goers, and passerby’s how amazingly diverse this town is, no matter the neighborhood. We got Bosnians. We got black people. We got Chinese folks. We got white people. We got hipsters busting out scarves like it’s their goddam job. We have yuppies throwing up on Wash Ave. We have old men lifting small glasses of whiskey to their lips. We got babies wailing somewhere in Barnes right now. We got the Hispanics & we got the Vietnamese. We have Croatians for Chrissake. All of these human-critters strolling around, each different, each an individual, with their roots gripping the concrete of this fair city, are a species. Some animals show their teeth, others hide away. It will always be this way.

Tilia trees are also deciduous, which essentially means they roll with the punch of the seasons. The only difference here is that Tilia trees can’t bitch about the current temperatures & they have never said the phrase, “Saint Louis weather.” To take this further, in the summer time each species grows into a state of abundant foliage. I suppose, I can only speak for myself here, but I’m feeling ya, Tilia. Every time summer rolls around, I feel like a goddam lunatic, raging with the foliage of thought. It’s my own made-up scientific understanding that this is due to the heat causing the chemicals that cause thoughts to react quicker and more violently, thus resulting in a faster pace, basically as if the entire plot of Die Hard is happening in your head simultaneously.

But, as crazy as we all might seem at times, through the extreme conditions and cacophony of constant sirens, the leaves of all Tilia species are heart-shaped. I won’t get too absurdly sentimental on this, but that sounds about right to me.

The Tilia is also recommended as an ornamental tree when a mass of foliage or a deep shade is desired. On behalf of Saint Louis: keep us in the shade for now. Keep us cool. Let’s work on our own love for this town before we start ranting about other things, such as moving more people here. By all means, I don’t want to keep people out—what I’m saying is that I’ve witnessed too many times a person from Saint Louis, hating on Saint Louis, claiming that they cannot wait to leave Saint Louis, yet they cannot name a single local band, or the only bar they can suggest is McGurk’s. Of course, I do not hang out with any of these blind souls, and I never will. But there’s just something about living in the best-kept secret city of all time that really makes me smile with gratitude.

The timber of Tilia species is also very soft and easily worked, making it a go-to choice for making instruments. With such a wide array of quality musical options in this town, I’d say that makes perfect sense.

            Finally, through my half-assed research, I also learned that nearly every species will hybridize quite readily, both in the wild and in cultivation. Call me a creep, but I hybridize with every single person I meet eyes with on the street. We are constantly combining spirits with one another, if only for a moment. Every single waking hour in this city results in the birth of interaction, and Saint Louis is pregnant with so much more, so long as we treat her right. Tilia grows rapidly when in rich soil, but is also subject to the attack of many insects (namely the Red Sox and an inferiority complex to Chicago). Yet these insects do not worry me in the least—the soil is naturally fertile here, and will allow us to till and thrive if we wish. Just don’t be a little bitch getting dirt on your hands. Otherwise, you might as well be a Sawtooth Oak.