‘I hope it becomes a landmark for Columbus in some way’

A unique piece of Chattahoochee RiverWalk public art was dedicated Thursday afternoon in a ceremony along the Georgia river bank.

Two Columbus State University professors — sculptor Michael McFalls and poet Nick Norwood — collaborated on the project commissioned by W.C. Bradley Co. President and CEO Marc Olivié and his wife, Marleen De Bode Olivié.

About 100 people gathered to view the art, a 73-yard poem entitled “Powerhouse,” behind the old Eagle & Phenix mill buildings. There is no punctuation, no capitalization, just 288 letters made up of Corten steel, designed to weather the crush of the elements.

“I hope it becomes a landmark for Columbus in some way,” said McFalls.

The poem reads:

“now that you are here/ amid crag and gleam/ mist-rise and vapor/ dark jade frothing/ into white lace/ here where the rains/ come to gargle/ spit jets of spray/ see herons creep/ smokestacks peer/ through high windows/ spirits sleep/ spool and spindle/ shaft and shackle/ tie-snake and eagle/ sit still/ as an old powerhouse/ and mind your moorings/ the river roaring”

During the brief ceremony, Norwood read the poem. At the conclusion, there were about 15 seconds of silence when you could hear the river roaring, echoing the final two words of the poem.

Norwood, a Columbus State University creative writing professor who has spent part of the last two years writing poetry about Columbus and its history, crafted the poem after he was approached by McFalls, who designed it.

It was commissioned by the Oliviés and donated to Uptown Columbus Inc., a nonprofit downtown revitalization corporation.

The sculpture is simple in its design, but Marc Olivié noted the time and effort many people gave to accomplish the piece.

“It may look easy,” he said, “But it wasn’t that easy to do. A lot of thought and design went into it.”

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams

Related stories from Columbus Ledger-Enquirer