Can poetry promote tourism? Rather than leave that question as just a hypothetical, SELTI partnered with Faulkner University and the Alabama Tourism Department to sponsor the nation’s first tourism poetry contest. Below are the first and second place winners from that contest, but there were fifty submissions from Faulkner’s several campuses around the state. Please click on the tourism links beneath each poem to learn how to visit these unique attractions in real life, to literally step into the poems. Both places are surrounded by many nearby attractions as well, so click on the links to the city tourism websites for info on hotels, restaurants, and other attractions in the area.
A Glimpse of History
By Dwight Austin
USS Alabama, docked in Mobile Bay,
Mighty she was in her day.
Ripping through the waves in high seas,
With her guns blazing as her enemy flees.
Look at those planes,
They once took flight.
Soaring through the air,
They once kept us safe day and night.
In Battleship Memorial Park
There are tanks and planes.
Oh wow! Is that a submarine?
Come now or come later,
Get the thrill of your life in a flight simulator.
Come visit Battleship Memorial Park
You’re guaranteed to have fun from dusk to dark.
So many things incite your curiosity,
Come witness the legacy and become a part of history.
When visiting Mobile this is the place to start,
You’ll love it here at Battleship Memorial Park.
Her Majesty – Arlington Antebellum
By Leslie Jeanne Woods
Arlington a home of grandeur, the stories untold
Oh, how the whispers of yesteryear intertwine my soul.
When flowers are in bloom and moonbeams guide the way,
Trees guard her gardens with memories of yesterday.
The mornings are silent amongst refreshing cool wind;
Hummingbirds and butterflies become your best friend.
The Magnolias smell pleasing; ladies chatter at tea.
The past embraces opulence, if only for me.
The magnificent beauty of Arlington accord,
Still stands this day blessed by the Lord.
In time her appearance may become tattered and worn,
But the trees will suffice unless reborn.
Serene as can be, it occurred to me;
Wonderful memories the home shall keep.
A graceful place, majestic indeed,
Nevertheless forsaken, the old brown sir did weep.
by Patrick Miller
The USS Alabama Memorial park is very fun trip that kids especially will remember for the rest of their lives. I still remember going there for the first time with my dad and walking in awe around a real WWII battleship and submarine. Standing on board the real ships brought the history alive in a way that no movie, documentary, or book ever has for me, even though I am a huge fan of all those. Now I am getting ready to take my seven year old son on the same trip, and he is getting very excited. The USS Alabama is anchored in Mobile Bay, an area filled with unique and colorful attractions. Arlington House, a museum open to the public and available for social occasion rentals, is also in the center of another city loaded with many unique attractions, Birmingham. Just visit the city websites to learn more about each city.
Does your state or city have unique attractions that might inspire poets? If so, consider that with everyone using tablets these days, readers can instantly browse tourism websites about the poems they read by clicking links like the ones with these poems, which opens up an exciting new direction for poetry and tourism. Universities like Faulkner are the testing grounds for innovations in literature like this, and state and city governments are also willing to fund such efforts with cash prizes. Imagine if universities around the nation developed tourism literature programs to enhance this new writing art that can have such practical benefits by attracting tourists. Because tourism literature could have dramatically positive impacts on bringing in tourism dollars, universities that develop such degree programs could find new and substantial sources of funding from both the private and public sector. Every new development has to start somewhere, and Faulkner University has taken this first important step into tourism poetry. That step might lead to much bigger things in the future for many cities, states, and universities around the nation. For example, a tourism anthology including twenty-seven poems and twelve short stories, Literary Destinations: Touring Alabama by Negative Capability Press, is set to be published late this summer (ten of the stories in the anthology came from previous SELTI contests).
Many thanks to the Alabama Tourism Department for providing the $150 1st Place prize and $50 2nd Place prizes for this contest. Many thanks also to Alabama poet Jennifer Horne, who served as the final independent judge outside of the Faulkner faculty. I recently enjoyed reading Jennifer’s powerful new book, Tell the World You’re A Wildflower. Our next tourism literature project is the Huntsville, Alabama short story contest (deadline May 31st), so we are looking forward to reading those submissions and publishing the first place winner on SELTI.