UA poetry project invites ‘love letters’ about lakes, streams & other bodies of water

Bianca Morales
4 Min Read


A global poetry project, organized in Tucson, seeks to connect tributaries in appreciation of bodies of water. 

“Dear Body of Water” is described by founder Gretchen E. Henderson as a “poetic water-harvesting project.”

“Here in the Sonoran Desert, of course, we’re so pressed by water issues,” Henderson said. “And yet, what I’m so inspired by in the Sonoran Desert is that it is the most biodiverse desert in North America, a biodiversity hotspot. There’s so much life going on.”

Last summer, the University of Arizona Poetry Center hosted the launch of Henderson’s book “Life in the Tar Seeps: A Spiraling Ecology from a Dying Sea,” which is about the Great Salt Lake. Henderson’s book featured photographs, which were then printed out in 6,000 postcards by the Poetry Center for people to write “love letters” to bodies of water.

“This is kind of the way of the project, is hoping to invite people to look at bodies of water as not resources to be extracted but as the literal lifeblood of our planet,” Henderson said.

In addition to the UA center, the project involves the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in Ohio.

“Dear Bodies of Water” lives in an interactive website and so far, there have been nearly 200 participants in the project. The love letters being sent in come in different languages and from people of all walks of life. One of them, as recalled by UA Poetry Center spokeswoman Melissa Goodrich, was sent in by a little girl named Opal. 

Opal wrote, “I love you, river.”

“I’m pretty sure it’s missing all the e’s but it’s so lovely and perfect in its own way,” Goodrich said. “All the entries are transcribed as they are into the website.”

The site includes a global display of all of the submissions, connected with the body of water each relates to. Poems have come in from around the world, including India, Saudi Arabia, Portugal, Columbia and elsewhere.

Henderson said she hopes people are able to connect through the project.

“Looking at the lifeblood of our planet as beautiful potential for connections of care and looking at these ways that we can learn from each other,” Henderson said. “We can care more about collective worry about the bodies of water, human, animal, planetary and beyond.”

Henderson said they wanted to make sure the project was accessible, so they accept “virtual and material participation.”

“You don’t have to live by the body of water you’re writing about,” Goodrich said. “Maybe it’s a place from your childhood or even a place you’ve never visited.”

People who want to participate can either enter their form online or they may mail in a physical postcard or request a water party kit which contains six postcards. More information, the interactive map and more can be found in Dear Body of Water website.



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Bianca Morales , www.tucsonsentinel.com
Arts & Entertainment news | TucsonSentinel.com , 2024-02-18 21:07:52
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