Pushing for more public recognition of Seattle's literary heritage, City Council member Nick Licata has proposed several concepts including a new park to honor writers as part of the waterfront revitalization project.
"I brought up the idea before our Council's briefing meeting this past Monday when Patrick Gordon and Mark Reddington, co-chairs of the Waterfront Design Subcommittee, presented an update on the waterfront open space options that would attract people," Licata reports. Besides options that celebrate the city's environment, art and historical heritage, he says, "I suggested that we include our literary heritage as well."
A Writers Park concept was brought up in a July Seattle Weekly story, citing Knute Berger's piece on Crosscut.com lamenting the lack of local writers' shrines--streets, statues, places, and parks. Licata contacted me and Berger to say he was taking up the cause in City Hall.
As noted earlier, the city's parks tend to be titled after place names (Madison, Ballard, Magnolia) and historic figures (Hutchison, Cal Anderson, Magnuson). Some are named for murder victims (Pratt and Thomas C. Wales). Some enshrine controversial artists (musician Jimi Hendrix) and political figures (jailed communist Terry Pettus).
And as Berger, the Weekly's ex-editor, wrote, "The real pilgrimage places are Bruce and Brandon Lee's graves and Kurt Cobain's Viretta Park bench." Where, he asked, was Theodore Roethke Historic Park?, for example (the Pulitzer poet does have an alley in his name, while double-Pulitzer playwright August Wilson has a lane named in his honor).
At the recent council session, Licata suggested planners might include a waterfront park space to recognize "past and even current writers (i.e. authors, poets, lyricists, etc.)"
Licata, originator of the council's Words' Worth poetry program, also suggested that poems be displayed on waterfront signage and a free book-exchange depot be set up by volunteers "to allow visitors to the waterfront to sit and enjoy our magnificent panorama while reading a book."
The waterfront co-chairs "were very receptive and said that they have been holding some initial meetings with citizens to promote the artistic development of the waterfront," says Licata. The next step, he says, is to form a small group to explore these and other ideas with Marshall Foster, the city's Planning Director. Stay tuned.