Digging a poet-gardener

A gardener cultivates the soil, pulls the weeds, and creates an environment where plants can grow and others can enjoy them. Much like a gardener, poets cultivate thoughts, express their love or discontent, and create an environment where words can form emotion. Jesse Castro likes to refer to himself as a poet-gardener, which is why it comes as no surprise that his latest work, I Have Walked This Path Before, is a collection of poems worn by real people.

“People give mobility and movement to the poetry,” Castro said. “If you were to give humanity to a poem, how would you do it?” His poetry is worn by movers and shakers about town, including the mayor of Leon Valley, teachers from the Southwest School of Art & Craft, and artists from Bihl Haus and Artpace. It may appear in an event around town or in a neighborhood H-E-B, but wherever it appears, it certainly causes reactions.

“I’ve had friends tell me that people follow them around, trying to read the work,” Castro said. “The people really make the poetry come to life.” His poems can be found on a white tuxedo jacket, a pink Victoria Secret pajama top, a chef’s coat, and scrubs, and they get around.

Friends in Dallas, New Mexico, Minneapolis, and as far away as New Zealand, are wearing Castro’s poems. Eventually, Castro plans to publish a book of these poems. He hasn’t yet decided what should be included in the book, but restoring meaning to the mutilated term “art” is ultimately what he strives for.

As for the creation of art Castro acknowledges it’s not necessarily going to be a mistake; it’s just gone in a different direction that wasn’t expected. “You can go by the book, or you can make a new book,” Castro said. “There are a hundred different ways you can go, but ultimately, you set the rules.”

Castro revels in doing poetry far beyond the scope of acceptance and quotes Henry David Thoreau as a man of great wisdom and who left behind words to live by: “So thoroughly and
sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way we say; but there are many ways there can be drawn radii from one centre.”