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Trail of poems making people pause in Downtown Tucson

Downtown Tucson Haiku Hike
Posted at 7:04 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 10:04:27-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — On the corner of 5th and Congress, you will find a small acrylic sign with a message that poet, Elizabeth Salper, proudly wrote.

"I worked on this for two weeks, at least," said Salper. "I just traveled around with it in my head. That's the exercise that I love most."

The work of Salper, and 19 other talented poets, was chosen to be put on display in Downtown Tucson. The, now, trail of poems is called the "Haiku Hike."

"The idea is to get a lot of participation in people writing poems, thinking about the city through poetry and exploring what a haiku makes possible," said University of Arizona Poetry Center Executive Director, Tyler Meier.

The Downtown Tucson Partnership and University of Arizona Poetry Center have come together to create the "hike" for the last three years. Over 1,000 haiku poems, from around the world, were submitted to the contest. Although short in length, a haiku is a powerful form of expression.

"All of the writing in rich, evocative and tells a brief story," said Meier. "You can maybe learn something about yourself, or about someone else, when you read the poems. It's something you wouldn't think to discover on a walk downtown."

The haiku poems are scattered down Congress and Stone, near many businesses who were hit hard during the pandemic.

"We think this is a good thing. We'd like people to come out, read these poems, take a moment from their busy day and support downtown," said Downtown Tucson Partnership CEO, Kathleen Eriksen.

The theme of this year's Haiku Hike is "metamorphosis." It references, not only, the change in season, but the start of a new chapter.

"This is the perfect public space," said Salper. "I think it really does make people pause. To take a second to read a poem might help you on that particular day."

Megan Meier is a reporter for KGUN 9. Megan graduated from Arizona State Universityʼs Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications in May 2018. While pursuing her degree in broadcast journalism, Megan interned at the City of Phoenix. Share your story ideas and important issues with Megan by emailing or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.