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Poetry in motion

Local poet Lucas Smiraldo and Downtown on the Go team up for Walk Tacoma/Walk Poetic

This guy loves to walk. Facebook photo

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For an hour and a half on a Friday afternoon, why not get up off your booty and commune with Tacoma on foot? Walk Tacoma/Walk Poetic is a new event debuting this year that aims to put participants in touch with the Brewery District in a whole new way.

During Walk Tacoma/Walk Poetic, participants will join local poet Lucas Smiraldo as he leads the walk and guides his flock to think and write about their surroundings. It's  based on a similar event in Portland, Ore., and organized by Downtown on the Go - an organization set on reducing single-occupancy vehicles in downtown Tacoma and encouraging commuters to consider options beyond their cars.

Downtown on the Go, headed by Manager Kristina Walker, designed five walking maps of the downtown core, and it is one of these that Walk Tacoma/Walk Poetic will follow. Each participant will receive a swag bag with all five of the walking maps, some water and snacks for their journeys.

"We wanted to stick with our mission of reducing the drive into downtown Tacoma, while also getting people out and enjoying Tacoma on the ground level," says Walker. "We hope that some of the poetry and writing that comes out of the walk will live beyond the event and be posted at other venues or performed. We will be posting work, if the authors allow, on our website and Facebook page after the event."

Lucas Smiraldo is a local poet who has worked in solo performance and spoken word for many years in Tacoma. He is known for an online film series called Slam Town, a piece called Voice of the Americas focused on post-9/11 America performed at the Theater on the Square and for other projects that take spoken word and give it a dramatic flair.

"I want most of the experience to be that of walking and looking and just being present to whatever comes up," says Smiraldo. "I'll put together a list of questions to think about, and find a couple of stopping places where they can rest a bit, take a couple of notes and then perhaps write segments or sections about what they may experience. The direction I'm heading focusing on: What does this physical journey look like and how does it cue or represent our own personal journeys? How does that landscape reflect aspects of ourselves?"

Since this is downtown Tacoma, the walk will involve a bit of a hill. Participants will get to stop plenty of places along the way to rest and write, and also can peel off or fall behind if they need or want to.

"The main stop will be at Tacoma Goodwill's Living Wall where we will hear a little bit about the wall and pause for snacks and writing," says Walker. The Living Wall is an 800-square-foot wall with an impressive 2,200 plants crawling up and around it, representing 100 different plant species.

"It's not going to be a high pressure thing where you must produce a piece of poetry," says Smiraldo. "It's more like you're a journalist of your own observations. Here's a notebook, here's some water, here's an energy bar, we're going to walk as a community and take a break or two along the way."

The walk will be limited to 25 people so that everyone will have the chance to hear Smiraldo speaking. Registration was requested by July 18, but is open until the walk is full. Information can be found at If there is a lot of interest, Downtown on the Go will look to schedule another event soon.

Downtown on the Go will also head up a series of walks each following a different one of its walking maps starting Sept. 30 and running through October.

Walk Tacoma/Walk Poetic

Friday, July 22
Noon to 1:30 p.m.
Begins at UW Tacoma's Grand Staircase

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