Pop-up poetry project gives Prince Albert writers a platform to spread hope

Cathy Bendle poses by a display of her poem along the river as part of a pop-up poetry project in Prince Albert. -- Brendan Friesen/Submitted

Poems inspired by hope are scattered around downtown Prince Albert as part of a pop-up arts project.

Lynda Monahan pitched the idea to the city after seeing other communities display poetry inspired by a particular word or topic. She said the project is also inspired by the efforts of Vern Hodgins, who often writes “hope” in the dirt, snow, or on rocks to spread a positive message.

“The written word is very important. I mean, look at Vern just having put the word ‘hope’ there in the snow or on the pathway. It means a lot. I think people can read the poem and sort of internalize it,” said Monahan.

“We really wanted to bring this element of the arts to the downtown core of Prince Albert.”

A ‘Hope’ rock sits outside City Hall. — Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Monahan received over 70 poems. She narrowed it down to 30, displaying 10 in boxes along the river and 20 in windows along Central Avenue, City Hall and in the Gateway Mall.

Cathy Bendle is one of the writers whose poem is up along the river. It’s titled On the Far Bank of the North Saskatchewan and recounts a peaceful moment shared with her husband.

They pulled over on a bank off of the Diefenbaker Bridge and looked out at the river while eating their lunch.

“It just all hit me as a moment of serendipity. I got this beautiful chance to stop and take a breath and enjoy all the different facets of the nature around me,” said Bendle.

“We ended up having about a half hour to just sit.”

The poem also refers to listening to Lilian Donahue’s Gentle on my Mind in the background.

“There’s a real sense of accomplishment when you write something and someone reads it and responds to it,” said Bendle about the pop-up poetry project.

“I’m just really honoured that I got to be part of that. I write a lot, but I don’t send it out a lot and I love to be able to share it.”

Bendle said she’s been a creative writer for as long as she can remember, but poetry struck her interest when she took one of Monahan’s courses at Saskatchewan Polytechnic.

Monahan said the writers whose poems were chosen received a small honourarium.

The project will conclude with a poetry reading on Sept. 9 at 11 a.m. at City Hall. Some of the poets will be sharing their work, followed by an open mic for other writers who want to read their pieces inspired by hope.

You can read Cathy Bendle’s full poem below:

On The Far Bank of the North Saskatchewan
River ripples juggle sunbeams
In the rush to somewhere else.
Lush willows trail slivered leaves
of green and tarnished silver,
Congregating with nodding clover
and hypnotically beckoning grasses.

A hidden bird chants tree-chi
And a breeze playfully strokes my cheek
Under swirling heights of azure, grey, and white
While Lilian sings Gentle on my Mind.