Renee Adams Celebrates 10 Years of her Poetry Fence

Adams fills this mailbox with poems, encouraging passersby to check the mail and help themselves. (Photo by Amanda Socci)

Sending poetry out into the world

by Amanda M. Socci

April offers many pleasantries, among them the sweet harmonies of birds, longer daylight hours, and National Poetry Month. And Renee Adams, the creator and curator of the Del Ray Poetry Fence, will host local poetry celebrations all month.

Events in Del Ray

On April 6, Adams will host her Second Annual Poetry Walk from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., starting at the Duncan Branch of the Alexandria Public Library, 2501 Commonwealth Avenue, and proceeding along Mount Vernon Avenue and some side streets. Library patrons will walk with Adams, who will recite poems from 64 “Poems on the Avenue” posted at outside 57 businesses. This year marks the 5th anniversary of Poems on the Avenue, which began when Adams “poem-bombed Mount Vernon Avenue [by posting] 25 poems in public spaces” in 2015.

On April 14, Adams will welcome guests to her home at 221 E. Windsor Avenue to celebrate 10 years of posting poetry, comic strips, and interesting news stories to her poetry bulletin boards and on her home fence to entertain passersby. She will offer poem writing and book making stations for all ages. For children, Adams plans a fairy garden, word beads, and ways to create leaf weather-gram poetry on paper to hang on trees, reminiscent of Yoko Ono’s interactive WISH TREE exhibition.

Throughout April, the Duncan Library will display a mini poetry fence, a pick-a-poem jar for adults, and a pick-a-poem basket for children. Adams has supplied these to the library for six years. New this year, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub will offer customers poems from a large gumball machine. The gumball poetry features poems written by various Del Ray poets.

In the beginning

In April 2009, Adams wanted “to get poetry out into the world; [to benefit] people who think they don’t like poetry [and] might find that they do.” She began to post copies of poems she liked on the fence at her home and over time this became known as the Poetry Fence of Del Ray.

At first, only close neighbors noticed Adams’ fence and began reading the poetry. As word spread, Adams noticed people spending more time reading and sometimes quietly reflecting. To ensure her visitors got the most benefit from visiting her fence, Adams inserted tiny toys into an open space, a low opening with lights, and other colorful items to complement the poems.

St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub will make the poetry gumball machine available to customers throughout National Poetry Month (April). (Photo by Amanda Socci)

Renee Adams has maintained her poetry fence year-round since the start, posting poems that speak to her soul and bring special meaning to her life. She enjoys the challenge of rotating poems to fit holidays and significant national events.

Each April for ten years, Renee has hosted public events at her poetry fence, drawing crowds of curious children and adults who have been affected by the power of words. Adams treasures her visitors and the many personalized thank-you cards she has received through the years. “Many people have told me that they find comfort at the poetry fence. I have many stories about people for whom the poetry fence has been important in their lives,” she said.

About National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month was founded in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets (AAP), a New York-based nonprofit whose mission is to support American poets at all stages of their careers and to foster the appreciation of contemporary poetry.