Bremerton’s new poem box invites artists to share their works

Those looking for literary inspiration, a safe place to share work or just absorb oneself in the words of local poetry will want to venture across the street from downtown Bremerton’s Kitsap Regional Library.

There, next to a decorated utility cabinet, stands the city’s new poem box, a creation inspired by several poets nationwide and brought to life locally by Bremerton poet laureate Tia Hudson in what she describes as her mission to bring poetry down from its perceived elitism to a writing style welcome to all.

Hudson said her inspiration for the box came from Raul Sanchez, the poet laureate of Redmond, who built a poetry pole outside his house. “It’s still there. That made me think that we should do that.”

Her effort to install one in Bremerton has been a goal since she became the local poet laureate in 2019.

A poem box is similar to the Little Free Libraries that have sprung up all over. A common, though not mandated rule, is that if you take a book, it either be returned or a one be left in its place. The same setup and scheme applies to the poem box. The box requests at least five copies so the poems can be distributed throughout the community. “Right now, we’ve got more takers than givers, but hopefully, we’ll start to see more activity,” Hudson said.

A big reason she believes the slow start is the perception of poetry in Bremerton. The art can easily be classified as snobbish and exclusive to higher-class groups in education and wealth. But Hudson knows there are poets in her city looking to find their voice. “We have lots of great poets here,” she said. “They haven’t published, but they come to open mics, they read and write. It’s also hard to get groups together; workshops don’t seem to last very long.”

Hudson’s hope is that the box will motivate poets to make themselves known, but even if they don’t, their anonymous works now have a place to go. The box’s location is temporary. Hudson said she hopes to install it temporarily in other locations around the city. “The idea is that, at some point, we might move it somewhere else,” she said. “While it’s here, it repeats the poem there, but it may stand on its own elsewhere.”