Downtown Walking Sonnets

In October 2016 The Mercantile Library graciously hosted a group of us for a Cincinnati Walking Sonnet workshop—a new Poet Laureate project in which I invite poets to take a walk (with or without me) in one of our 52 neighborhoods, drafting a 14 line poem along the way. Seven sonnets were written as a result, and can be read here. From our seven poems I created an additional sonnet, Downtown Walking: A CompoSonnet. I hope you enjoy! And more than that, I hope it inspires you to write your own!

Downtown Walking: A CompoSonnet

Pink. That’s how I remember the windowed
stores with names of Cincinnati now gone,
with their long, tall windows, like a lighthouse.
Large clay pots of yellow marigolds grace
up the wrought iron balconies. Four ashen
Bengal striped soirées stumble through construction,
flirt with me, remind me of girlhood days.
My fountain is flowing thick with intentions.
Turn the corner to find the Renaissance –
the river beyond. My shadow lurks
in a grove of gingkoes along the highway,
their long skeletal fingers beseeching
for spare change. I balk, clam up, walk back past
pink bridge over the arcade – memory.
Composed by Pauletta Hansel with lines by Pauletta Hansel, Nina Knueve, Preeti Parikh and Susan Scardina. Read the full sonnets here.

I look forward to walking and writing with students from Moeller High School and Clark Montessori High School later this year. A full description of the Cincinnati Walking Sonnet Project can be found here, as well links to instructions for the sonnet walk and to an ever-growing group of poems written on these walks.

Author: Pauletta Hansel

For the month of April, Pauletta Hansel's blog is given over to "Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month Project," a project in cooperation with Manuel Iris, the city's current Poet Laureate. Each day in April they will share a poem or two by Cincinnati area poets about life during the pandemic; at least ten of these will be translated into Spanish by Manuel. Pauletta and Manuel hope this project will be of value in many ways—area poets will have the opportunity to write and share during Poetry Month; we will use poetry to connect with others in our community and beyond in this time of social distancing; and by recording our firsthand experiences through poetry, we will be creating a record of our community’s life in this historic time.” Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of seven poetry collections, Coal Town Photograph (Dos Madres Press, 2019); Palindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Rattle, Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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