Awalk­way pep­pered with haiku

Home - Santa Fe Real Estate Guide - - SPOUSESSELLINGHOUSES - By Paul Wei­de­man

Many peo­ple who go to the main court­yard at Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege these days aren’t just sit­ting. They’re walk­ing slowly around its paths, stop­ping ev­ery few steps to read a short poem. There are 36 “stops,” each one a domed ce­ramic disc, about 15 inches in di­am­e­ter, bear­ing a printed haiku— whim­si­cal, quizzi­cal, punchy, or sim­ply pro­found.

Haiku Path­way is a col­lab­o­ra­tion of poet Miriam Sa­gan and artist Christy Hengst. The per­ma­nent in­stal­la­tion, funded in part by theWit­ter Byn­ner Foun­da­tion for Po­etry, had an open­ing event on Oct. 5.

The haiku were cu­rated by Sa­gan, founder of the Santa Fe Com­mu­nity Col­lege cre­ative-writ­ing pro­gram and a long­time SFCC in­struc­tor. “There are two other haiku path­ways that I know of in North Amer­ica and one in New Zealand,” Sa­gan said. “And in Ja­pan, this type of haiku stone is a part of land­scape ar­chi­tec­ture.”

There are two streams, in­ter­min­gled, in the SFCC court­yard. “I taught a free pub­lic class in June and the stu­dents did haikus,” Sa­gan said. “That was site-spe­cific here in the court­yard, but it was up to themwhether they ref­er­enced the court­yard. I did not want 36 haikus about cot­ton­wood trees.”

For the sec­ond stream, she cu­rated works by a hefty hand­ful ofNorth­ernNewMex­ico’s ven­er­a­ble haiku po­ets, among them El­iz­a­beth Searle Lamb, Wil­liam Hig­gin­son, Peggy Harter, Al­varo Car­dona-Hine and Bar­bara McCauley, Renee Gre­go­rio, Joan Log­ghe, and John Brandi.

Sa­gan worked with Hengst and Linda Cas­sell, the col­lege’s Art on Cam­pus Col­lec­tion man­ager, on the edit­ing project.

Hengst has a few fire­place sur­rounds and other res­i­den­tial projects in her port­fo­lio, but most of her work is in the realm of fine art. She and Sa­gan are neigh­bors and have worked to­gether be­fore. Once the writer had it in­mind to do a haiku path­way, she ex­plored po­ten­tial technologies. “At one point some­one sug­gested ce­ment, but a haiku is a mo­men­tary thing— not ‘written in ce­ment,’” she quipped. “It’s done sort of out of the cor­ner of the eye.” Stone seemed to be a good al­ter­na­tive.

“I read her blog,” Hengst said, “and I thought, Oh, she shouldn’t do that in carved stone. It should be clay, so I wrote her.”

“And the clay is so much more in­te­grated with the vi­sion of the path­way here than stone could ever be,” Sa­gan said. “It’s softer and it has a slight­ly­more nat­u­ral or ephemeral feel­ing. We thought the pieces would look like mush­rooms here.”

The artist chose a ma­te­rial that is sim­i­lar to adobe in color. The shal­low domes are stoneware over con­crete. “This was rolling out a slab of clay, then shap­ing it over an up­side-down bowl, then stamp­ing the let­ters. I had bought two sets and I used one for the po­ets’ names, but the one I used for the po­ems was ac­tu­ally from my kid’s stamp set, a Melissa and Doug set, that I used to press the let­ters into the clay.” Af­ter stamp­ing, she did a bisque-fir­ing, brushed an iron pig­ment into the let­ters, and then high-fired it.

The re­sult is a per­fect, quiet marriage of two art forms. “In Santa Fe, we think so much of the vis­ual arts as our bread and but­ter and I have the strong feel­ing that the lit­er­ary arts are part of that,” Sa­gan said. “They’re part of what makes Santa Fe Santa Fe.” Hengst added, “One thing about projects like this is that it’s about mak­ing places more rich and liv­able. It is very much about sense of place in Santa Fe. One rea­son it’s so nice to live here is that there are so many things like this to ex­pe­ri­ence.”


Christy Hengst and Miriam Sa­gan sit by a Joan Log­ghe haiku, “Late afternoon / my long shadow has no / white hair”


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