Planting a ‘Poet-Tree’ Legacy | Northern Public Radio: WNIJ and WNIU


Shel Silverstein wrote the poem “Poet Tree,” but on this Arbor Day, a northern Illinois town took the concept one step further.

Two years ago, the City of Aurora named its first ever Poet Laureate and three Vice Poet Laureates. Those terms are coming to an end, but their legacy will remain for years to come in the form of four Poet-Trees.

Clayton Muhammad, communications director for the city of Aurora, said the
city ​​took the opportunity to merge the 150and anniversary of Arbor Day and National Poetry Month by planting trees to represent the city’s Poet Laureate, the three Deputy Poet Laureates and Arborist Bill Chinetti. He said it was for future generations.

“Forty years from now,” Muhammad said, “a child can come and say, ‘Oh, I want to know more about Karen. [Fullett]-Christensen or Quentin Johnson.’ In this way, legacies endure and hence the theme of Legacy and Leadership for today. »

Nick Day is a board member of Aurora Tree. He said poetry and nature are the perfect combination.

“I mean, honestly, when it comes to nature and art, I think they intertwine,” he said. “And so, I think it’s a perfect combination to appreciate arts and culture as well as nature. For me, they are one.”

Karen Fullett-Christensen is the city’s Poet Laureate. She said she appreciates the attention the city has given to poetry over the past two years.

“It’s so special to see the city linking love of nature with love of the arts,” she said. “For me, it’s really emotional and a great connection, a really good connection.”

Deputy Poet Laureate Fermina Ponce said she was overwhelmed with gratitude.

“And I would say the Arbor is a poem, a poem you can hug and a poem you can see underneath.”

Anthony Stanford is also Associate Poet Laureate. He said he appreciates that the city has leadership that recognizes poetry and art in all its forms.

Winners received rewards just before picking up shovels to plant their Poet-Trees.

Poet-Tree Grove is located on Stolp Avenue and Benton Street in downtown Aurora.

Nomination information for the next phase of Poet Laureate will be announced on Tuesday.

  • Yvonne Boose is currently a body member of Report for America, an initiative of Project GroundTruth. It’s a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at

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