Driving by you wouldn’t catch it, but walking on Parish Road, you’ll see a poetry box attached to a tree in a resident’s front yard. In the box, under glass, is a poem posted there and changed regularly by homeowner Karen Shehade.
Shehade said she grew to enjoy poetry through her husband’s suggestions, church sermons and community education classes. During the pandemic, she wanted to inspire, entertain and encourage those walking by with carefully chosen poems.
After reading about poetry boxes in Oregon, Shehade was inspired to create her own. In Portland, Ore., as well as Louisiana and North Dakota, full-blown poetry box movements are underway. Several businesses offer handmade wooden boxes for sale online, but the couple crafted their own.
Shehade collects and saves poems she likes, with subscriptions to online poetry groups or on Instagram. When a new season or holiday is coming, she goes to Poetry.org for specific topics. Among her favorites are David Whyte and Amanda Gorman, whom she discovered before President Biden’s inauguration. She said she has seen kids on bikes riding by and stopping to read — some even demanding, “No, I want to read it!”
She receives requests and appreciative notes. Does she write her own poetry? Yes, she does — and might one day post it.
Needham resident Ginger Newcombe is a retired public school teacher and now works part-time at the Needham Free Public Library.