WHEN WE FINALLY DETOURED our way around all the road construction to Lions Park in Mankato, we wondered how we would find my poem selected for the 2014 Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride.
“It’s probably right there, by the garbage,” my husband suggested when I noted a sign post nearby.
And he was right. “Bandwagon,” my 14 line poem based on the long-running, locally-produced television show by the same name, is posted next to a paved trail, by a garbage can, at the park’s north entry in a quiet residential neighborhood not all that far from Minnesota State University Mankato.
On this Saturday morning, not a soul stirred as my husband punched (507) 403-4038 into his cell phone and then, when prompted, 428, to listen to me read my poem as part of the “Mankato on the Move” audio tour.
This marks the second time my writing has been selected for the Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride, a second year project of the Southern Minnesota Poets Society designed to bring poetry to the public via signs placed in parks and along recreational trails.
I love the concept, the unassuming way in which these poems have been integrated into the community. This exposes poetry in a creative setting—outside the walls of a library, bookstore, educational institution or coffee shop. And for those of us who write poetry, it’s just one more opportunity to showcase our writing and appreciate the creative talents of other poets.
When I penned “Bandwagon,” I tapped into my memories of watching Bandwagon, a show which debuted in November 1960 on Mankato television station KEYC-TV. The program featured, and still features, audience members dancing to the music of old-time bands. It is one of the longest running, locally-produced entertainment programs in Minnesota television. The show is taped at 6:30 p.m. on the first Monday of the month at the Kato Entertainment Center and then aired the following four weekends.
I haven’t seen Bandwagon in four decades, not since I left the farm where my father drove his John Deere to the hay bunk and my mom may, or may not, have swayed her hips to “Cherry Pickers Polka.” All poets are allowed some poetic license.
Back in the day, I knew the show as The John Deere Bandwagon, given its sponsorship by the farm implement company.
I can still hear MC Chuck Pasek introducing the bands and musical selections. And I can still see those couples twirling across the dance floor…
Please check back for another post featuring the writing of 12-year-old Hannah Leraas whose poem was selected in a youth division and is posted in Mankato’s Sibley Park. I’ve mentored Hannah.
The Mankato Poetry Walk and Ride is sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System, Creative Ad Solutions Inc., Voyageur Web and the cities of Mankato and North Mankato.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if other communities, like my community of Faribault with an extensive park and trails system, would start a poetry walk and ride?
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling