Poetry in motion along stretch of Mountain Avenue

Aug 31, 2023 | Arts Foundation News, Arts News, News, Public Art

In a new report by Pat Harris for KGUN9 Tucson, we hear the story behind how Tucson artist Simon Donovan and University of Arizona Professor of Linguistics, Ofelia Zepeda came up with the perfect integration of visual art and poetry. This Percent for Public Art project came to be thanks to a 2010 city drainage project. The artwork is located on Mountain Avenue and incorporates over a dozen poetry-clad boulders along a mile stretch of sidewalks.

While some are just boulders, many of them are art. They have Zepeda’s poems engraved in the granite. 

The landscape part of the Mountain Avenue drainage project was the idea of Tucson artist Simon Donovan. 

He’s the same artist who designed the award-wining Rattlesnake Bridge over Broadway at the entrance to downtown. 

Donovan came to Zepeda with the idea of using her poetry. 

“It was sort of intimidating,” Zepeda said standing in front of one of the boulders. “Because you’re going to have your words engraved in stone. So they’re going to be there for a long time.”

Zepeda is a well-known poet and author. For some of the boulders she chose to use small excerpts from previous works.

“Some are new pieces that I wrote specifically for this area,” explained Zepeda. “There’s some short pieces up and down the street that kind of reflect either the landscape or what’s actually there.”

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