Poem in Place


Alaska State Parks, the Alaska Center for the Book, and a steering committee of Alaskan writers and poets are collaborating on a statewide project to celebrate the natural beauty of Alaska’s state parks with poetry.

Emily with This Forest, This Beach, You Poem

Emily Wall stands next to her poem "This Forest, This beach, You" at Totem Bight State Historical Park.

The goal of the Poems in Place Project is to install poems on permanent signs in state parks throughout Alaska in the coming years. The first in this series – the poem “What Whales and Infants Know,” by Kim Cornwall – was installed in 2011 at Beluga Point in Chugach State Park, with support from Homer writer Wendy Erd, Alaska State Parks, and the Alaska State Council on the Arts.

“Poetry that celebrates Alaska’s natural environment – whether it’s an alpine valley or a tidal cove – can have a positive, powerful impact on visitors and Alaska residents, as we’ve seen following the poetry installation at Beluga Point,” said Claire LeClair, deputy director of Alaska State Parks.

The Alaska Center for the Book launched a statewide contest for Alaskans to submit poems to install at Totem Bight State Historical Park and the Chena River State Recreation Area. “The Poems in Place steering committee selected four winning entries from a generous and diverse outpouring of poems received from Alaskans”, said Wendy Erd, the Poems in Place project coordinator.

In August 2013, two winning poems were installed at Totem Bight State Historical Park: “This Forest, This Beach, You,” by Emily Wall and “The Spoken Forest,” by Ernestine Hayes. In September 2013, two poems were installed at the Chena River State Recreation Area: “The Blue Fish,” by Frank Soos, and “Poem of the Forgotten,” by the late John Haines, both of Fairbanks.

 Poem of the Forgotten 

"Poem of the Forgotten" by the late John Haines was installed near the Northfork public use cabin in Chena River State Recreation Area.



In March, 2014 the Poems in Place project issued a call for poems by Alaskans for installation in the Southwestern and Mat-Su/Copper Basin area park regions.  For more information about the new round of poetry submissions go to:  http://www.alaskacenterforthebook.org/.

The Poems in Place project is supported by the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Usibelli Foundation, the Alaska Poetry League, Alaska Center for the Book, and numerous generous individuals.


What Whales and Infants know

"What Whales & Infants Know" by Kim Cornwell was installed at Beluga Point in Chugach State Park in May 2011.



Wilson reading The Spoken Forest Poem

A man pauses to read “The Spoken Forest” by Ernestine Hayes, which was installed at Totem Bight State Historical Park near Ketchikan.


The Blue Fish Poem

“Blue Fish” by Frank Soos, was installed near the Rosehip Campground in Chena River State Recreation Area.