A poetry trail is coming to Hilton Head Island. How can this be? A marriage of technology,creative writing, public art, and arts-minded businesses brings a new way to see Hilton Head Island: through the eyes of the poets who live here. Grabbing wine for a dinner party from Rollers Wine & Spirits? Scan the sign placed near its gorgeous bar, and read Phil Lindsey’s “A Little Tipsy”! Confused, asking What is it?, as you stare at Carocol in Shelter Cove Park? Scan the trail sign and Elizabeth Abrams gives you one interpretation with “O’Keefe’s Woody Orchid.” It’s the kind of collaboration that makes the arts an experience. The project is a partnership between the Town of Hilton Head Island’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the Island Writers’ Network.
Fifteen sculptures and four businesses now await their signs, with five more pending approval. The trail’s opening will have two dozen stops and launch at the beginning of April, which is National Poetry Month. Along the trail are easy-to-find, numbered signs containing two QR codes. One takes you to a poem written by a poet living in the area. The other takes you to the trail’s Facebook page, where you can find the entire route, plan a full tour, or comment on the poem, the art, or the business you visited along the way. Scanning the sign allows the Office of Cultural Affairs to track traffic, key data that helps direct new projects in our arts community.
A trail launch reading will be on the deck of Rollers Wine & Spirits, 9 Palmetto Bay, April 19 from 4 to 6 p.m. There, listeners can sample wine and hear the trail poets read in person.
The technology guru and idea man on the project is Bill Schmitt, who volunteers with the Arts Council, Concours d’Elegance and Camera Club of Hilton Head. He developed the logo, the sign design and Facebook page. Natalie Harvey, the new Director of Cultural Affairs formerly at the Coastal Discovery Museum, oversees the sculptures approved for the project and the affixing of signs near the public art installations. Award-winning poet Elizabeth Robin recruited the poets and the businesses that are participating. She emcees a monthly open mic for IWN, curates poetry for Local Life Magazine, and partners with arts groups to bring literati to Hilton Head Island. She has three books through Finishing Line Press, most recently To My Dreamcatcher (2022).