The Billboard Poetry Project began as a simple idea as I drove on the freeway one day. I looked around me at the billboards that sprouted up and up and up on either side of the road. I saw words, images, phrases, ideas, but nothing that resonated with my soul. The place that raised me is made of mountain trails, lake shores, orange sunsets, powdered snow and canyon roads.
My heart felt heavy and manipulated as we whizzed past billboards flaunting liposuction, plastic surgery, chain restaurants that offer little by way of local culture and talent. I am lucky to be surrounded by artists, writers, poets, thinkers, but on that drive, I saw no notion of their words or ideas. The influence and permeation of our local artists and poets, (so often the formers of cultural identity and thought) were no where to be found. Instead, hollow advertisements telling me I need to be thinner, prettier, richer, more hungry loomed down at me for as far as I could see.
I said to my husband, “What if instead of these advertisements, we could see something that represents love and thought for our local landscape and culture. What if we put a poem up on these billboards?” We talked about the idea the entire way home, and from it came the Billboard Poetry Project.
Read more on the project website, https://billboardpoetryproject.com.