When we arrived at our camp on the slick-rock on the side of comb ridge in the southeast corner of Utah, Ann Walka joined our circle with a smile. A published poet, a professor, and a river-runner, Ann lives part time in Bluff where we met with her. Here, Ann challenged us to reconsider our sense of place. She asked us to revise our understanding of a ‘map’. Primarily through poetry, but also essays, notes and drawings, we created these maps. We carefully recorded what was within arms reach; we decontextualized the slick-rock, the clouds, and the cacti surrounding us so as to reapproach our relationship to the slick-rock, clouds and cacti on comb ridge in particular; we spent a day consciously observing the structures and people in the town of Bluff. Ann asked us to dedicate time to quiet observation and reflection. Ann’s nurturing style allowed each individual student to explore the external environment in a very freeing way. The sight of sandstone, the sound of wind blowing past fleshy ear, and the feeling of the baking sun led our pens down divergent paths. However, Ann absolutely succeeded in inspiring 22 distinct and significant maps of a place.
By Keenan Hilton