UAB has the Most Passionate Street Lamps

By on August 20, 2014
Touched by An Angel by Maya Angelou

My first boyfriend once wrote me a beautiful poem, and just like any teenage girl’s heart would do, it made my heart squeal. He wrote of implacable sweetness, his attention to the crystal moon, the slow autumn at his window, and he was even so sweet as to say, “everything carries me to you, / as if everything that exists, / aromas, light, metals, / were little boats / that sail |/toward those isles of yours that wait for me.”

Sweet, right?

Maybe it would have been sweeter if the 20th Century Chilean poet Pablo Neruda hadn’t already written that exact poem, titled “If you forget me.”

But, like the naïve girl I was, I didn’t bother typing it into Google to check the authorship because I was too busy being wooed by his sentiment.

Thousands of crystal moons later and many states away from the pitiable memory of adolescent Juniper and her first suitor, I found myself staring at a bland flyer on the corner of 10th Ave S and 14th Street South on UAB’s campus. The advertisement I was eyeballing was one of thousands of monotonous ads tapped to the street lamps of Birmingham.

The motives of the flyers are directive— look at my product, go to my event, etc.

But, what if the dialogue between the person advertising and the pedestrian wasn’t a plea for an action, but rather a plea for thought?

Equipped with the ambition that only ironically exists within a college student during the summertime, I decided to tape poems to the street lamps on campus. If you make your way to Subway, Blount Hall, Sterne library, Campbell Hall, or Heritage Hall, chances are you will pass a poem taped to a street lamp amid all of the other flyers.

I simply wish for you to notice the author’s words. I wish for you to feel the feelings that some other human being felt, and I wish for you to think about them.

Among the poems are Pablo Neruda’s, “If you forgot me,” “Phenomenal Woman” by Maya Angelou, along with other poems that have made an impact in my life.

Do songs impact your life? If so, connect to people that way.

Does art impact your life? If so, show people what you’re creating.

Show your passion to someone else and think about what other people are showing you.

I like poetry, and in the words of “Mr. Keating,” played by the late Robin Williams:

“We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion- and medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?”

UAB students, even if you glean over my poetic efforts, I still challenge you to connect with one another.

And most importantly, when you’re trying to impress your girlfriend, write your own poems.



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