The Crimson White

Hikes merge nature, literature

Jordan Staggs

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Woods and words will collide Saturday as Slash Pine Press invites you to join its 2010 Writer Hikes, which will be held at Munny Sokol Park off Watermelon Road from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (According to Slash Pine’s website, “This time is sharp — not poet time.”)

The hikes are free and open to the public and will happen rain or shine. They will feature the work of 18 writers from all over the country. Each of the four hikes is unique and will contain a different number of writers, hence the collective title of the hikes, “6, 5, 4, 3.”

And don’t be surprised to find yourself having poems shouted at you from behind a tree, said Slash Pine intern Meg Brandl.

“There will be surprises like that on this hike,” she said. “Not only are the people doing the reading of the work not necessarily the people who wrote it (at a conventional reading, the author of the work reads his or her own material), but they will sometimes be hidden from plain sight.”

It’s all a part of the experience, Brandl said, and was designed that way by Slash Pine’s co-founders, Patti White and Joseph Wood. Their goal is to take the audience out of the typical poetry reading setting, such as a crowded room with people just sitting there waiting for one person to read his or her work.

“Patti and Joseph really want to play with the kind of experience you have at a reading,” Brandl said, “because you’re going to think differently about a poem when you’re looking up into a canopy of trees, hearing words out of nowhere, just letting the sense of them flow around you, than you would think about it if you were staring at the person who wrote it and wondering why they wore that shirt today and being distracted by people walking by the room or squeezing in at the last minute or taking notes for a class because they’re required to attend.”

This year’s hikes are a little different from 2009, when there was only one trail with groups of hikers leaving every half hour. This year, there are four distinct hikes participants can choose from based on skill level and length:

Fast Fact Box?

Hiking Trails for “6, 5, 4, 3” Event

Death by Concrete is the shortest hike, at about 1.5 miles with plenty of shade and scenery. The terrain is relatively flat and easy to navigate. This hike will feature the work of Tyler Meier, Scott McWaters and Brian Morrison.

Pond and Field takes place on the park’s Della Rose trail, which is just over 2 miles. It is mostly downhill and will lead hikers over a series of small footbridges, with one notable hill bringing up the end of the trail. Readings from authors Lily Brown, Jared White, Joshua R. Helms and MC Hyland will be featured on this trail.

Fallen Barn, at about 4 miles, is more suited for slightly advanced hikers, with rolling terrain and a series of small but steep climbs. It also offers the greatest range of scenery. Authors who will read on this hike are Sarah Field, Nick Demske, Jen Tynes & Mike Sikkema, Carl Peterson and Betsy Seymour.

Transformer is the final and longest hike. Living up to its name, it takes hikers over various terrains that melt seamlessly into others as they go. This hike may last over two hours and is about 4.5 miles long. It will feature readings from Tom Andes, Heidi Lynn Staples, Anne Shaw, Farren Stanley and Joshua Robbins.

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Hikes merge nature, literature