A Poetry Menagerie at Milwaukee County Zoo
Our zoo is
one of five across the nation chosen for this project, funded by a grant from
the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Each of the five zoos was assigned a
nationally known poet to select zoo-appropriate poems and assist in placing
them within the zoo grounds. Milwaukee was lucky to get the outstanding
Colorado-based nature poet Pattiann Rogers. And it was lucky to have a chief zookeeper who appreciates
poetry. âWhen the offer came, I jumped at it,â says Milwaukee County Zoo
Director Charles Wikenhauser.
creative director, Marcia Sinner, collaborated with Rogers in selecting the 60 specific spots at
the zoo where the lines of poetry are displayed in various imaginative ways.
Some poems, like Wendell Berryâs âThe Peace of Wild Things,â are given in
entirety. Others are
represented by brief excerpts. Lines by Pablo Neruda about the anaconda are
etched on the glass window of that formidable serpentâs enclosure. Theodore
Roethkeâs poem âBatâ graces the bat wing of the small mammals building.
Lucille Clifton appear on a metal banner beside a gleaming ebony Earth globe
that revolves on a current of water. Lines by American-Indian poet Linda Hogan,
pointing out that the earth comes in all the colors humans come in, bless a
childrenâs playground area. Walt
Whitmanâs majestic line âGive me the splendid silent sun with all his beams
full dazzlingâ crowns an expansive view of sunset over the zooâs lake.
Pattiann Rogers will speak at the grand opening of this marvelous poetry project at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 19, on the zooâs Lake Evinrude deck. She will also give a reading/discussion on Monday, June 21, in the Rare Books Room at the Central Library, reception to begin at 6:30 p.m., program at 7.