BBL: Addison St. Poetry Walk – Keeping an Ear to the Ground

You’ve probably walked past this landmark – or on it – without realizing.

On Addison Street between Shattuck and Milvia, Berkeley’s Poetry Walk is a collection of some 120 cast-iron poetry panels. Each of the poems laid in 55-pounds of cast-iron was selected by UC Berkeley professor, Pulitzer-prize winner and U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass.

Poetry Walk, which was installed in 2003, features poems that live and breathe the history and atmosphere of Berkeley itself. Among the authors whose work appears on these two-by-two foot panels are Allen Ginsberg, Shakespeare, Thorton Wilder, Gertrude Stein, Jack London and Alice Walker. Included, too, are pieces by classical Chinese poet Li Po and Ohlone Indians who once inhabited the Berkeley area.

Interspersed among the poems are artistic imprints. One, for example, says “Make art” in a dozen languages and has ears of concrete, as if even the ground were listening for voices, for expression through art.

The Addison St. Anthology, an anthology of the poems featured in Berkeley’s Poetry Walk, was also published in 2004. The volume was edited by Drs. Robert Hass and Jessica Fisher, a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley.

So the next time you can afford to stop and smell the roses, stop and read the poetry. These pieces were unearthed and intended for your very satisfaction.