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Fleeting Wonders: Seattle is Looking For a Poet to Live in a Bridge

The Fremont Bridge, future home to an infrastructural poet.

The Fremont Bridge, future home to an infrastructural poet. (Photo: Shakespeare/WikiCommons CC BY-SA 3.0)

Every poet needs a garret. If you’re in the market, and you’re a Seattleite, one just opened up in the northwest tower of the Fremont Bridge.

The city is hiring “an established writer or poet living within 100 miles of Seattle” to shack up in the bridge and write for a year, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Said writer will be given $10,000 and access to studio space in the tower.

The program is coordinated by the city’s Office of Arts & Culture and sponsored by the Department of Transportation, which, the Seattle PI reminds us, “is required to put 1 percent of its new construction budget toward public art.” As the application materials explain, once chosen, the bridge bard will be expected to “undertake an in-depth exploration” of the Fremont, and come out with a piece of writing that “represent[s] or illuminate[s] some aspect of the bridge and the bridge’s history, be it real or metaphorical.”

The bridge lets a ship through in 1917, its first operational year.

The bridge lets a ship through in 1917, its first operational year. (Photo: University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections/Public Domain)

The Fremont Bridge should give its new tenant plenty of inspiration–it’s the most frequently opened drawbridge in the country, rising about 35 times per day to let boats through, and serves as a popular thoroughfare for bikes and pedestrians. Its striking color scheme was decided by community vote in 1985, and previous tower residents have decked it out with neon sculptures and telephone lines loaded with found sounds. Plus, for poets who can’t work without the specter of criticism looming, the Fremont Troll lives right down the street.

“Bridge hermit” is decidedly a part-time gig, as the space has no running water and isn’t well-heated. (As of 2009, it also had no wi-fi–a lack which, for some productivity-focused poets, may make up for the others.) If you feel like you’ve come to it, applications are due February 16th, and can be found here.

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