The Language of
The Language of Conservation is a collaborative art project
initiated by The Poets House of NYC and made possible by a National
Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museums and Library
Services. Partnerships between zoos and libraries in five
cities—Milwaukee, Chicago (Brookfield Zoo), Little Rock, New Orleans,
and Jacksonville— participated in the three-year project.
Pattiann Rogers was Poet-in-Residence at the Milwaukee County
Zoo. The Milwaukee Public Library was a collaborative partner in
various aspects of the project.
Her primary role as Poet-in-Residence was to select poems and excerpts
from poems to be designed and installed permanently throughout the
Zoo. She worked closely with Marcia Sinner, Head of the Creative
Department at the Zoo, and her co-worker Julie Radcliffe, who together
designed each unique sign. She was also consulted as to the
location of each sign. At the opening event and ribbon cutting,
June 19th, 2010, all 54 installed signs were open to the public.
As Poet-in-Residence, Rogers has been giving interviews and readings
centering on the Language of Conservation, both at the Milwaukee Public
Library and the Zoo. The Zoo and the Libary are also
co-ordinating various events and activities.
Rogers has stated the following:
- My aims in selecting poems
for the Language of Conservation signs in the Milwaukee County Zoo were
to find memorable lines within a poem that were complete in themselves,
easily accessible, contained all the rich language and strong qualities
of the best poetry, offered new perspectives on the variety of the
lives and lands of the earth, and respected and celebrated those lives
and lands. I also attempted to have many different voices from
many countries, races, and ages represented.
- What I particularly like
about this project is the collaboration between poetry and the visual
arts. The words of the poetry, the design of the sign and its
location work together to evoke the experience of the art. In
addition, this art is primarily outside and tangible, on and of the
earth, affected by sun and shadow, the time of day, the wind and the
weather, snow and frost, the falling of a leaf, the cry of a bird, the
shouts of a child. The experience will constantly vary with all
of these elements.