Have you noticed words inscribed in boulders along N. Mountain Avenue, between Ft. Lowell and Roger? Those words compose poetry by Tohono O’odham poet and of U of A Linguistics Regents Professor Ofelia Zededa, a resident of that area. Her public art works were chosen as part of the 2nd phase of the renovation of Mountain Avenue, between E. Speedway on the south end and E. Prospect Lane (near the River Park Gateway to the Rillito River on the north).
Here’s a sample of one of her poems (and there are many) on one of the boulders:
“With beauty, with beauty
the pull to be a flower is
I frequently see bikers, joggers, walkers, skateboarders, families with children in strollers, dogs, etc. traversing Mountain Avenue, many stopping to read the poems on the rocks & boulders. Local artist Simon Donovan created the public art using large boulders inscribed with these poems at strategic points along the roadway.
At a recent summer event – National Night Out organized by Mountain View Neighborhood community activist Mary DeCamp – I won a lovely ceramic bowl created by Tony Celentano, husband of Dr.Zepeda. And along the rim of this lovely turquoise bowl is this poem in Tohono O’odham (translation below):
“Hummingbirds moving with songs
Little wings beating in my heart”.
This poem in Tohono O’odham as well as English can be found on one of the boulders on Mountain Avenue as well. I found it on a summer sunset walk with my husband and son.
Some of the poems on Mountain Avenue have been reprinted from Dr. Zepeda’s poetry books:
“Where Clouds are Formed” (2005), “Ocean Power: Poems from the Desert” (1995) and “Jewed ‘I-hoi/Earth Movements” (1996).
Dr. Zepeda has recently been honored to be the 2010 Lawrence Clark Powell lecturer (read about it here at the Pima County Library website http://www.library.pima.gov/about/news/?id=2904). She will deliver the 10th memorial lecture –on December 2, 2010 at 7 pm. at Temple Emanu-El, 225 N. Country Club Rd.
The lecture is free and open to the public; reservations are not required. A reception and book sale will follow the event.
So this Fall and Winter, I encourage you to take a stroll along Mountain Avenue and enjoy the landscaped desert plants & trees, the flowers blooming (some with butterflies on them), and the thoughtful poems engraved in these boulders. Most of the poetry is based on nature and spirituality. Mountain Avenue has become one of Tucson’s most beautiful streets.