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Poet Michelle Peñaloza Maps Seattle Heartbreaks

Poet Michelle Peñaloza
Dawn Tyler

Ever since she moved to Seattle from Eugene a little over a year ago, poet Michelle Peñaloza has been inviting volunteers to walk with her from Hugo House in Capitol Hill to a place in the city where their hearts were broken. 

Along the walk, each person tells Peñaloza the story of the heartbreak. She records and maps the conversation using her phone’s GPS system, and transforms some of the walks and conversations into poems.

[asset-images[{"caption": "", "fid": "66819", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201408/heartbreakmap.JPG", "attribution": ""}]]Click here to see the full version of Peñaloza's heartbreak map.

Peñaloza calls the projectLandscape/Heartbreak. Its origins include her own heartaches and her experience as a contributing artist on  “The Long Walk,” a land/art performance project organized by Susan Robb

Peñaloza reads and discusses her poem “We Walk a Heart Around Lake Union” with KUOW's Elizabeth Austen, and explains that she's come to see Seattle as "a map of stories." 

“The landscape is imbued with story even as I walk around in it," Peñaloza said, "and so it’s not just sidewalks and concrete and what used to be here and what condo is going up now. I have a memory of a person and a story  that I carry around with me, and I imagine they carry it around, too.”

Thanks to Jack Straw Productions for audio of Michelle Peñaloza's reading.