Wordscapes

Mayor

Madeline Rogero
mayor@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-2040

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Wordscapes is an ongoing project of placing words into the cityscape in various mediums. Permissions have been granted to the City from President Jimmy Carter, James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, Nikki Giovanni, and others for the use of their poetry to be displayed publicly. These murals are still in the planning and permission stages. 


Word Murals (update as of June 2018)

1. Habitat for Humanity, 1500 Washington Ave. 

I learned from poetry that art
is best derived from artless things,
that mysteries might be explored
and understood from that which springs
most freely from the mind and heart.     
- President Carter


2. Retaining wall W. Jackson

For each fire is all fires, the first fire and the last ever to be.   
- Cormac McCarthy


3. Crafty Bastard at Emory Place and Central Ave. 

Down in the buttercup, back at the flat
Bluebird’s planning on passing the hat
The bear drank up all the wine in the vat
And I don’t what I’m going to do ‘bout that     
- Charles Morris 


4. Nikki Giovanni - portrait/poem


dreams have a way
of tossing and turning themselves 
around and the times 
make requirements that we dream 
real dreams for example 
i want to be 
a sweet inspiration in my dreams 
of my people but the times 
require that i give 
myself willingly and become 
a wonder woman                   
- Nikki Giovanni


5. James Agee – portrait/poem 

suddenly he heard his soul exclaim in silence within him, delighted, 
sad, and in some way proud, “This could only happen in Alexandria!” 
But instantly he was aware that it was better even than that: for it 
was happening in Knoxville, in East Tennessee, in the middle of a day 
towards the middle of the twentieth century,  and if this could only 
happen in Alexandria, then this was Alexandria now.                 
- James Agee

(or edited version):

Suddenly he heard his soul exclaim…within him…
“This could only happen in Alexandria!” 
But instantly he was aware that it was better 
even than that: for it was happening in Knoxville, 
in East Tennessee…and if this could only happen 
in Alexandria, then this was Alexandria now.                     
- James Agee

6. Jeffery Nash building on Summit Hill

A single word, as in ‘POEM’, or a music graph, a bar of written music


7. Wall St. wall on the corner of Gay St. and Wall St. 


THE MARKET SQUARE – Knoxville’s Greatest Poem

8. Trailhead bar wall on Sevier Ave. 
 
River Miles to Knoxville 
 
What’s the river miles to Knoxville can you tell me true? I‘ve got a load of hogs and butter I’m trying to float through. Sell ‘em down on Market Square for some cash and sour mash too. Gotta get there ‘fore the summer drought or another flood comes through. What’s the river miles to Knoxville? You know I’m asking you. 
 
What’s the river miles to Knoxville can you tell me true? I heard that Longstreet’s coming.  I got to kill a Reb or two. My brother’s on the other side.  But this I got to do……….. What’s the river miles?   You know I’m asking you. 
 
What’s the river miles to Knoxville can you tell me true? We’re gonna build a big dam here make a better life for you. So you can chill your eggs and butter.  Get your home brew in a can. Think we’ll build it just downstream.  You’ll have to move you understand. What’s the river miles to Knoxville? You know I’m asking you. 
 
So when I see that brown flood rolling; or old Norris deep and green, The ski-doos out a playing or just a family on the stream, Whether on a slow slough drifting or when the tugs go chuggin by I think of those who’ve gone before and a tear comes to my eye. And I think river miles… Feel those river miles. 
 
What’s the river miles to Knoxville can you tell me true? What’s the river miles to Knoxville? You know I’m asking you. What’s the river miles?
- Greg Congleton


9. The Walnut Building at 710 Walnut St. 

The tallest wall in the world is a word     
- R.B. Morris


10. Bike trail signs 

Sign 1: You can lead a horse to water
Sign 2: But you can’t make him drink
Sign 3: You can lead a sheep to slaughter
Sign 4: But you can’t make him think

11. James Agee quote, bronze in sidewalk of the 1400 or 1500 block of Highland Ave.

In what city shall that be
And in what strange vicinity     
- James Agee


12. Quotes on outside (or inside) of a City bus

EXAMPLE: On the bus we go, all of us who go, and we are diverse, a simultaneity in different mediums, the young and the old and the temporarily lost between…       
- R.B. Morris


13. Poet’s Alley


The alley on the west side of Market Square could host a series of poems along its west wall.