Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Bringing poetry to the people in Mankato & I’m in January 19, 2018


NEARLY SIX MONTHS have passed since I stopped at Spring Lake Park in North Mankato to view my poem posted there as part of the Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride.


The post just to the front left of the car holds a sign with my poem printed thereon.



Looking back across the lake toward the willows and my nearby poetry sign.


Located at the edge of a parking lot next to a trail and within a stone’s throw of drooping weeping willows, my award-winning poem about detasseling corn contrasts with the tranquil setting of lake and lawn separated by bullrushes flagged by cattails.


The Sibley Farm playground inside Sibley Park features these cornstalk climbing apparatus. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


The poem may have been more appropriately placed next to cornstalk climbing apparatus at the Sibley Farm playground in Mankato’s Sibley Park.


A beautiful setting for poetry.




Still, I am grateful for this opportunity to get my poetry out there in a public place. This placement of selected poems along recreational trails and in parks in Mankato and North Mankato brings poetry to people in an approachable and everyday way. That is the beauty of this project—the accessibility, the exposure in outdoor spaces, the flawless weaving of words into the landscape.


Inside a southern Minnesota cornfield. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.


My poem, as with much of my writing, reflects a strong sense of place. In Cornfield Memories, I take the reader into a southwestern Minnesota cornfield to experience detasseling corn, a job I worked several summers as a teenager. It’s hard work yanking tassels from corn stalks in the dew of the morning and then in the scorching sun of a July afternoon. All for $1.25/ hour back in the day.


My poem, Bandwagon, previously posted at Lion’s Park in Mankato as part of a previous Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2014.


My poem shares rural history, a story, an experience. Just as my past poems—The Thrill of Vertical, Off to Mankato to “get an education” and Bandwagon—selected as part of previous Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride contests did.



I value public art projects like the Mankato Poetry Walk & Ride. Not only as a poet, but as an appreciator of the literary arts. Poetry doesn’t need to be stuffy and mysterious. And this project proves that.

I’D LIKE TO HEAR your thoughts on bringing poetry to the public in creative ways like this. Have you seen a similar project? Would you stop to read poems posted in public spots?

NOTE: All photos were taken in early September, within weeks of the 2017 Poetry Walk & Ride poems being posted.

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


21 Responses to “Bringing poetry to the people in Mankato & I’m in”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I have never seen poetry installations like these in any of my adventures but maybe I haven’t been looking hard enough. It really is a fun idea and I am always looking for unique art installations.

  2. I want to play on that amazing structure – oh so cool! Happy Weekend – Enjoy 🙂

  3. Very awesome! Happy for you Audrey!

  4. This is an inspiring idea. Yes, I would definitely stop and read poetry in areas like this. What an honor to have your work displayed so creatively. I love this! Dawn

  5. Bernadette Says:

    I agree poetry and parks go together. We have a poetry park a few miles from where I live; it is near a playground and a senior center. I also saw an inspirational one in Boise, Idaho that was intended for people affected by cancer and other illnesses, but all park visitors enjoyed the healing words. I photographed a kite-shaped poem that remains one of my favorite pictures of our trip to Boise last spring.

  6. Jackie Says:

    A few years back my daughter and I took the grandkids to Sibley Farm Play ground. I guess I wasn’t even aware at the time that these little poetry stops were in the park or I would have looked for your. I did call just now to listen to your “cornfield memories”, I love this poem as usual. I have written one poem and really have no idea how or where I’d ever enter it…or if it’s even good enough. It’s fun to dabble with that’s for sure. Oh, and I love walking through the corn fields that my grandfather and great grand father farmed, it’s a wonderful feeling, kind of a closeness to my roots.

  7. Missy's Crafty Mess Says:

    What beautiful pictures to share on a cold winter day.

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