First Shel Silverstein gave us “The Giving Tree”, now Key West entrepreneur David Sloan and the Awesome Foundation gave the island the “Poet Tree” (get it?).
The Awesome Foundation and its director Michael Shields awarded a $1,000 grant to create a coral stone plaque and garden around the scenic Fort East Martello tree, where poets are encouraged to read their own works of poetry or those of others.
“The tree is a place where anyone in Key West can congregate for random poetry acts,” Sloan said. “This was made possible through a grant from the Awesome Foundation Key West and the collaboration of several individuals, poets and organizations, including past and present Key West Poet Laureates.
“Nance Boylan, Jack Hackett and Arlo Haskell have planted roots with this project which will continue to grow. Michael Gieda and the team at the Key West Art & Historical Society and the Fort East Martello Museum have provided the land where this project can thrive. Michael Shields and the Awesome Foundation team provided money and inspiration, and dozens of local poets contributed words of water.
The tree was dedicated June 11 in memory of poet Ray Campbell.
“Several poems were read in his memory, including one he wrote titled ‘Thoughts on Naked Poetry Readings.’ None of us took our clothes off, but several people bared their souls,” Sloan said. .
Poets present at the dedication included Vicki Boguszewski, David Johnson, Mia Shawn, Ron Colwell, Sheri Lohr, John Gibson Parker, Jack Hackett and Michael Shields.
Stop with your own words sometimes. It was created just for you, he says.