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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dawson

Featured Wind Phone - Ellensburg, Washington



There is a unique story behind each Wind Phone that is best told by its creator and/or steward. No one can tell it the way they can, so to that end, the format for Featured Wind Phone stories is to share the creator/steward's responses to the interview questions verbatim in their own voice. Sharing our stories helps us to connect and heal and may inspire someone else to create or visit a Wind Phone.

~Amy


 

This week's Featured Phone is in Ellensburg, Washington; Keely Murphy Pickerel created this beautiful Wind Phone in memory of her brother, Brendan Murphy. It's located in Wippel Park and has a Poetry Pole with it. I love that Wind Phones worldwide are being placed in various ways for visitors to express their thoughts. Thank you, Keely, for sharing your Wind Phone with us. 


 

Where is your Wind Phone located?

Our wind phone is located at Wippel Park in West Ellensburg at 400 N. Elliott St Ellensburg, WA 98926.

You will easily find it under the elm tree in the west corner of the park. You can find the Google Place here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/gDtJWFKgsFYDHN2J9

 

What year and month did you place your Wind Phone at this location?

May 26, 2024


Why did you choose this location?

The Wind Phone is under the elm tree in the corner because Keely and her brother and sister would play under an elm tree when they were little. The back of the wind phone faces northwest—the direction the wind normally blows in this very windy town—so when you stand at the wind phone you are found both in the shelter of the elm tree and in the shelter of the wind phone.

 

Is your Wind Phone dedicated or in memory of someone special?

The wind phone of Ellensburg is dedicated to Keely Murphy Pickerel’s brother, Brendan Murphy. Brendan passed away in 2021 at age 35. He was full of music. It poured out of him. He felt deeply with such an expansive heart. When he hugged you, he brought you into his chest, shoulders all around you, tummies touching. He was that kind of person.

 

Is there anything you else you would like to share?

The Wind Phone of Ellensburg accompanies the Poetry Pole of Ellensburg: two projects Keely Murphy Pickerel gained permission from the city to place in a park very close to her family’s home. Both the pole and the wind phone are broad invitations to connect something within to something outside of ourselves. Both allow us to send our words on the wind.

 

When her brother died in 2021, Murphy Pickerel posted poems for him on a poetry pole out with the wind, sun, sky, and birds. But that first poetry pole that she had been posting on for nearly 20 years was now 30 miles away, so she had an impulse to create one for her town, too.

 

Then she remembered the wind phone, which she had heard of years before on the This American Life radio show titled, “Really Long Distance,”—and she realized that both the poetry pole and wind phone offer a way to touch sky. Murphy Pickerel was very happy her ideas were accepted so readily by the Parks Department and the two garden groups who have reimagined Wippel Park this past year near her home: a lovely community garden and a beautiful heritage native pollinator garden. This way, the community can easily visit the new gardens and both the poetry pole and wind phone.

 

The poetry pole is a cedar post Murphy Pickerel carved with the word POETRY on the east and west sides where people come to pin poems to the pole and read poems left there by others. After time in the weather, the poems are put in a place of safekeeping. The first poetry pole was imagined by Jim Bodeen of Blue Begonia Press in Yakima. Jim planted it in 1996 after he visited Pablo Neruda’s home in Chile where people leave poetry on the fence posts. Many more poetry poles have been planted since. Jim said, “Poetry poles are places to share spiritual insights, longings, and truth. Poems here are written directly to the muse without editors intervening.” Murphy Pickerel says, “If you’ve ever experienced the medicine of the right poem given at the right time—whether falling in love, aching in heartbreak, getting married, celebrating birth, or navigating grief—you know poetry can help us say what it is to be human. The poetry pole is for everyone. It’s about telling your story and being found in the stories of others.” The poetry pole was planted at the end of summer in the pollinator garden.

 

The top piece of the wind phone is an old pay phone from New York City. Murphy Pickerel carved the cedar for the back panel. The bottom architectural pieces are from a lamppost that had been discarded in Ellensburg’s city’s shop yard. Her neighbor, Chris Schambacher, an artist and builder, collaborated with her to make this wind phone real. Chris engineered special metal fabrication that was needed so the parts would fit together and become anchored in the ground. He was also Keely’s teacher and instrumental in the steps to create the wind phone. Murphy Pickerel is grateful for all the support from her family, friends, loved ones, and the Parks Department and Arts Commission of the City of Ellensburg.


 



 

I'd love to feature your phone! You can find all the information here to submit your Wind Phone.


Please Note: Visiting a Wind Phone location is at your own risk. We (My Wind Phone) cannot and do not assume any responsibility for your visit. See our Terms and Conditions.

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