Poetry, meditation by bike

Bike tour downtown La Crosse Sept. 1 explores death, trauma, meditation through poetry

UWL Associate Professor of History Ariel Beaujot says a river flows both ways. It brings people goods shipped on big barges, but it also takes away — sometimes one of the most precious things — life.

Beaujot will lead a poetry tour by bike through downtown La Crosse starting at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1. Riders will meet at Cameron Park at the corner of Fourth and King streets. Participants will bike to various downtown locations where they will listen to the latest poetry that has been added to the “Hear, Here” oral history project, exploring themes of death, trauma and meditation. These poems speak to loss of life from the river, as well as hope and healing.

“In these poems we will see people placing in poems the stories of those they loved who have passed, or the stories that place in space the memory of a traumatic event,” says Beaujot.

Beaujot and students in her classes started the Hear, Here project in 2015. Today 50 orange, street-level signs mark spots in the city where anyone can call a phone number to hear a story from citizens who lived, walked and shopped the streets. People also have the option of leaving a story, and, if it fits the project’s objectives, it will be added.

Poems were added to the Hear, Here project in July after Beaujot and Bill Stobb, English, launched a community-wide poetry contest. The poetry tour features winners of the poetry contest.

Beaujot says poetry brought a new aspect of place to the Hear, Here project, as well as adding depth to its content.

“Poetry often allows us to deal with difficult topics, and that’s what we found in the winning poems,” she says.

The tour will reflect on those difficult topics, commemorating death in a city space in a new way.

Tour stops and poetry readings:

  • Depart from Cameron Park
  • Fifth Street between State and Main streets — David Krump’s poem “Ophelia Soft,” first place winner.
  • Pearl Street — Tegan Dailey’s poem “Trauma Center”
  • River near The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern — oral history of the falling of the wagon bridge
  • Riverside Park —“The River Walk” meditation by Susuan Houlihan
  • End at Cameron Park

Beaujot will lead another bike tour starting at noon Saturday, Sept. 2 from Cameron Park to the Root Down Yoga Studio in North La Crosse. The cost is $5, mats included. At the studio participants will do a series of yoga poses, offering participants a meditation on life and death.

If you go —

What: Poetry tour by bike through downtown La Crosse
Where: Starting at Cameron Park near Fourth and King Streets
When: 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1