Walking on Poetry

Kahnop is a Kumeyaay word meaning to tell a story. That’s exactly what the Stuart Collection at UC San Diego’s newest public art installation does. The 800-foot-long basalt stone pathway serves as a threshold from the new Blue Line trolley station to the campus.

The sea of words beneath your feet is composed of 1,300 fragments from more than 300 literary sources of authors and scholars with ties to UC San Diego. Artist Ann Hamilton organized the pathway with a spine of keywords. This concordance of documents weaves together threads of thinking from many different disciplines. The piece was built line by line, rather than as a singular continuous narrative, and yet clear themes emerge and recur throughout the entire composition.

Unbeknownst to many, the University sits on ancestral Kumeyaay land. After learning of this history, Hamilton invited two Kumeyaay scholars, Dr. Alexandria Hunter and Eva Trujillo, to write the feminist poem, “Yeechesh Cha’alk (A Woman’s Heart).” The poem shares the life of Sinyahow, the first Kumeyaay woman and is made distinct by pavers whose words are engraved in the stone. It appears every 20 feet as you walk west from the trolley station towards the ocean.

This short documentary offers insight into this beautiful new piece of public artwork with conversations from Hamilton, Stuart Collection Director Jessica Berlanga Taylor, and Founding Director Mary Beebe.

To walk across these lines of poetry is to experience history and literature and nature. And with every crossing, you may experience something new.

Watch Walking on Poetry – KAHNOP – To Tell a Story.