After a lifetime of trips to the Milwaukee County Zoo (first at Washington Park and now on Blue Mound Road), I doubted anything could ever refresh the experience for me. The onslaught of careening double-wide strollers, the 'signature fragrance' of the Small Mammals Building, overhearing parents trying to explain just what those two monkeys are doing, the possibility of a guano shower in the Aviary, the relentless white noise of a thousand excited children...ah, memories.
So it was a revelation to visit the Zoo with a friend to check out the poetry installed throughout the grounds by The Language of Conservation program funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Milwaukee County Zoo and the Milwaukee Public Library with help from Poets House. With map and list of poem titles in hand, we embarked on a quest to seek out and savor selections from a menagerie of poets. There are poems etched on exhibit glass, hanging in trees, carved into stone or wood, on curving metal scrolls, or lettered on mobiles and banners. Like trying to spot a well camouflaged animal, the poetry will suddenly reveal itself to the attentive hunter. Standing silently amid the swirling throng and having a poem perfectly connect to creature or place is a revelation.
Alison Apotheker's "Why I Said Jellyfish", Michael Glaser's "The Presence of Trees" and Jorge Luis Borges' "The Other Tiger" were three favorites. To read the timeless words of May Swenson's Motherhood, then watch the baby orangutan Mahal cuddled in his adoptive mother's lap is delightful, even for someone as cynical as I. I know we missed finding some of the poems during our three hour visit, so we will definitely be planning another trip soon - by then I hope someone develops a GPS (Global Poetry Sensor)!
Submitted by Christine @ MPL Central