Saturday, July 13, 2002

Poetry peddlers travel U.S.

Couple stops in Cincinnati for three days

By Steve Kemme,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Poets Bud and Patricia Kenny walk into Aurora, Ind. along the Ohio River Wednesday.
(Jeff Swinger photos)
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        Motorists did double-takes on River Road Friday when they saw a man and a woman walking in the right east-bound lane with a mule pulling a big red and black cart.

        Poets Bud and Patricia Kenny and their mule, Della, are in the early stages of a walking tour around the world that began last year in their hometown of Hot Springs, Ark.

        They've titled their tour “Footloose, Poetry in Motion.” Their cart, which Mr. Kenny made, converts into a stage for performing their poetry. Solar panels and the rotation of the wheels generate electricity for lights, sound equipment and a computer.

        “We put on a show and pass the hat round, sort of like the old medicine shows,” Mr. Kenny said, pausing at the foot of Revere Avenue in Sayler Park. “Except instead of peddling pills, we're pushing poetry.”

        But the main purpose of their walking tour, which they estimate will take 15 to 20 years, is to see the world and its people.

[photo] Patricia makes dinner at their cart.
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        “We're taking the time to see what there is to see,” Mr. Kenny said. “We're not on a religious quest. We're not raising money for cancer. We're doing it just because we want to do it. I've wanted to do it for 25 years.”

        They expect to spend about three days in the Cincinnati area and stay with a friend in Covington. Then they'll head toward Wilmington.

        When the Kennys decided to take their world walking tour, Mrs. Kenny, 54, sold her dog grooming business and her house, and Mr. Kenny, 53, gave up his coffeehouse/performance theater in Hot Springs.

        They are funding their tour with donations and money saved from winter jobs. This past winter, they stayed in Hanover, Ind. Mr. Kenny drove horse-drawn carriages in Madison, and Mrs. Kenny worked as a waitress.

        They hope to reach New Hampshire by the beginning of winter.

        “This is a tremendous way to see the world,” Mrs. Kenny said. “Because we're so visible on the road, people are drawn to us. Children are drawn to Della. As a result, we hear wonderful stories about the history of their communities.”

        On their computer, they write poems as well as daily accounts of their journey. They plan to write a series of books about their travels.

        Along their travels, people have given them home-cooked meals, free shelter and a lot of encouragement.

        “It's so uplifting for people to say they admire and respect us and wish they could come with us,” Mrs. Kenny said. “We're living the fantasy of a lot of people.”


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