Chester Park has a new kind of tree: A poetree

“This book is offered in the form of a poetry chrysalis to encourage us to think about how we are a part of nature and how our actions cause change,” Wildwood wrote on the note. (Photo by Rob Wildwood via Facebook)

Picking a new summer book just got easier. Duluth writer Robert Wildwood has taken the free library idea to new heights, offering up copies of his latest book of poetry to the public in a novel way. This month, chrysalides of poetry appeared in Chester Park trees, and they are a gift for you.

Earlier this month, Wildwood’s new book of poems, Like a Leaf Love the Sun, started showing up in neighborhood book exchanges on Duluth’s hillside, and now they are offered in hand-sewn bags hanging in the trees of Chester Park. The books have a little note explaining that the book is for you to take home, read and share. Wildwood hopes people enjoy the experience of “a stranger giving them this thing.”

It’s “part of the connection with strangers, and the empathy for each other. Like, oh, someone else walks here, who writes poetry and things, books and trees; weird. But also, hanging them in the trees. I want to encourage people to think about our connection to nature,” Wildwood said.

The book captures everyday joys in the grind of life. His poems are about living in Duluth, embracing a new job, being grounded in family and about finding his way in the world in a more connected way.

“I focus my writing in the present moment and mindfulness,” Wildwood said.

Readers will find his book packed with positivity and built for connection. Like a Leaf Love the Sun is “a metaphor of kind of a broader thing of like, turn your face towards what nourishes you,” Wildwood said.

Picture of the book cover

Like a Leaf Love the Sun by Robert Wildwood was released June 10, 2023.

Robert Wildwood

Wildwood has written and published for many years going way back to the Minneapolis zine scene.

“When I got into the world of punk, I would put out a zine like every few months and that inspired me to create things, write and do art and stuff, put it out there, spread it around. This was before the internet,” Wildwood said.

“Zines! That was the internet; where you were finding the fresh stuff that just anyone was expressing but minus the nasty comments.”

A portrait of the poet, Rob Wildwood

Rob Wildwood lives on the Duluth hillside with his wife and two young children. They enjoy a charming front yard hillside garden with a Little Free Library nestled down by the sidewalk for everyone to enjoy. (Photo by Maija Jenson) 

His youthful publications include short stories, while others are comic-book style zines about releasing the anguish of the childhood bully, of finding transformation and about love and community. They boast titles like Awesome Future: Stories of Victorious Action, Shut up and Love the Rain and Unsinkable.

His new book comes on the heels of Hillside Sunrise, a 2022 book of poetry capturing the pandemic woes and a love for the Duluth hillside. Like a Leaf Love the Sun is rooted in the hills of Duluth, where you can walk with Wildwood through this eyes-wide-open daily practice with insight and grace.

Another daily practice shows up in his poetry: walking to work.

A Multitude Walking as One

one person wearing shoes and

a barefooted bird

walked down this snow covered sidewalk

before me

quiet sidewalk on a fresh side street

busy morning bustle behind

sounds surround move fast in cold air

hustle engines

humans encapsulated in machines

strive to avoid

other machines containing people

here on the quiet sidewalk

there is only


happy biological conglomeration

cells and multitudes of bacteria

life structures in bodies

doing what they have done

for millions billions

walking to work

walking to play


p. 67

Book Release and Poetry Performance on June 29

Wildwood found community in the League of Minnesota Poets Duluth Chapter. Its members encouraged him to publish his work and to apply for support from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. Spending Sundays with the other poets “makes the poetry different and more energetic,” Wildwood said.

Now his book is out and everyone is invited to the book release poetry performance at Wussow’s Concert Cafe on June 29 at 7 p.m.

Copies of Like a Leaf Love the Sun will be available at the book release, and also in the trees at Chester Park or in various neighborhood book exchange boxes.

“Please take this book, it is a gift” his chrysalis note reads.

Little free library with Wildwood's book in it

Wildwood was out on his Stingray earlier this month, sharing his new book in Little Free Library boxes. (Photo by Rob Wildwood via Facebook)

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