Seattle poet Bill Carty collects the beginnings of poems while he's walking around in the world. "A lot of the more recent poems [in his debut collection Huge Cloudy] began in my Notes app on my phone," Carty says.
"I have two young kids, so I'm often pushing them around in a stroller" in his Green Lake neighborhood, Carty explains. He'd hear or see something — "an overheard conversation or specific trees" — that he would then record.
"I still do most of my writing at a desk in an office surrounded by books," Carty says, but those notes from his walks prompt him into writing "so I'm not sitting down with nothing." Even if nothing specific from the notes winds up in the final version of the poem, they'll still influence the text in subliminal ways.
This coming Sunday, Carty is celebrating Huge Cloudy with a walking poetry reading that stretches three miles around Green Lake and Phinney Ridge. "I want to bring the poems back to those places" that inspired them, Carty says. You can find a full schedule and map on Carty's site.
The reading starts in the northeast corner of Green Lake at 12:30 pm. "There's a cedar tree there that fell down in a storm in August, 2015, which is when my daughter was born," Carty says. "I remember walking around the lake and seeing that tree, freshly fallen, and it was cut up in pieces, different segments at a time, and taken away." The tree and its removal inspired a poem that ends the book and begins the reading.
"Starting with that tree, we'll then move around Green Lake, up through Woodland Park, down the west side of Phinney Ridge toward the 418 Public House, which is where the final gathering will be," Carty says.
At various stops along the walk, various Seattle poets will read a piece or two. Confirmed guests for the afternoon include Gabrielle Bates, Kary Wayson, Dujie Tahat, Alex Gallo-Brown, and Jane Wong. Weather permitting, Carty says, a kiddie pool might get involved. And "I have a megaphone. I don't know that it I'll actually use it, but it will at least make me look official."
The Huge Cloudy launch is a big experiment, and Carty's not sure how it's going to turn out. He says that the 418 Public House asked him how many people to expect for the reading/book sale/launch party. "I told them I don't know — it could be five, could be 30, it could be everybody would have dropped off the hunt by then. I'm not really sure." He doesn't sound worried at all.
Carty sees the event as a demonstration of a quote from Joshua Beckman: "I don’t imagine that the central location of poetry is the book. Really, no, I imagine the central location of poetry is the world."
Beckman's words lit a candle deep inside Carty: "that's a really interesting way of thinking about where poems start and where they're quote-unquote finished in terms of being on the printed page," he says. To celebrate the book's publication, he's going to release those poems back into the world where they were born, to see what happens next.