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July 7, 2008 / missallaneous

Only in Seattle

This is why I love living in Seattle…

At Green Lake, latest word in poetry is … umbrellas

The Green Lake Poetess, Amy Allin, visited Green Lake after a yearlong hiatus, sharing poetry and umbrellas with Seattle residents on Sunday, July 6.

On Sunday it had been a full year since Amy Allin had come to Green Lake to talk with and read poetry to passers-by.

On Sunday it had been a full year since Amy Allin had come to Green Lake to talk with and read poetry to passers-by.


For those who missed the Green Lake Poetess after her yearlong hiatus, she was back Sunday with a bold new display.

To celebrate the anniversary of the end of her last public project — in which she set up a small wooden table along the northwest edge of Green Lake and read poetry to curious passers-by — the Poetess, also known as Amy Allin, 41, of Ballard, returned to her old haunt with a bevy of decorated umbrellas, each inscribed with a memorable verse.

“Umbrellas and Seattle sort of go together,” she said on the sunny and clear 68-degree day, standing barefoot underneath a big, black umbrella with black streamers.

The goal of this project, like the last one, was to engage the public with poetry in unexpected ways. The visual presence was calculated to intrigue lakeside strollers in the hope of persuading them to carry one of the poetry parasols around the lake. All were decorated with words of poets — from e.e. cummings to Jared Leising.

People were more reluctant to participate than she had hoped, but at least she piqued their curiosity, she said. She got the biggest rise out of passers-by when one of the umbrellas threatened to blow away and people scurried to help recover them.

Allin, a resident artist at Studio-Current on Capitol Hill, said she wants her work to combine poetry with visual and performance art to broaden its appeal.

“It’s the intersection of people and poetry, to find an interface that is fun and accessible,” she said. “People are afraid of it still.”

Just then, Clinton Bliss rounded the path in a tie-dye shirt and Rollerblades, wielding a ruby umbrella after circling the lake. Bliss, who met Allin a year and a half ago during her Poetess stint, had helped her decorate the umbrellas on Saturday night.

Bliss was in on the show, but it caught Sue Apperson as a pleasant surprise. On a walk with her husband, just enjoying the weather, she stopped at the art/poetry exhibit.

Besides her Studio-Current gig, Allin runs a monthly poetry reading at Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Center. Day to day, she works in a Ballard boatyard to pay the bills.

Allin has no plans to reinstitute her weekly poetry presence at the park, but she may do sporadic events. She comes to Green Lake because it’s less touristy than other parks and has a welcoming, safe and casual vibe, she said.

On Sunday, she said the most common thing she heard was, “This is why I live in this city — because things like this happen.”

Isaac Arnsdorf: 206-464-2397 or iarnsdorf@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

What do YOU love about Seattle? Share and maybe we’ll venture out to some of our favourite spots this summer :)

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3 Comments

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  1. Randall / Jul 7 2008 6:14 pm

    …we should do something like this for next year’s Good Neighbor Fund.

  2. missallaneous / Jul 10 2008 2:27 pm

    Haha, Randor…we should! Unfortunately, I don’t think we’d make any money this way, but I’d love to!

  3. chrismasuda / Jul 11 2008 7:23 am

    Wow, I miss seattle SO much now! haha, you’re cool Missa. I miss you. Are you free this upcoming Sunday afternoon? Kate and Rach are going to come over to help me pack, and I think we might get dinner afterwards? I’d love to see you! For dinner or both parts. Take care, girl! haha, it seems that packing is all i ever do in Seattle these days ;) I promise there will be no packing after Sunday in future reunions though! :)

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