On Saturday, October 5, I will launch a new project at the Brightwater Center for Environmental Education.  The installation includes 600 bars of custom-made, clear glycerin soap, each with a small ceramic “stone” with a poem inscribed embedded inside. Visit the Brightwater Center to mark where your soap will enter the stream of wastewater, and take a bar home with you. Here are the details…


The water system is a huge and mostly unseen stream. It is a vast network in all our houses, under our streets, headed to Puget Sound. We touch it every day.

This project is an insertion into the stream of water and the stream of consciousness. We turn on the tap and we take the bar of soap in our hand. It is an intimate yet unnoticed object. Normally, it wears away and disappears, becoming out of sight, out of mind.  With this project, each soap bar contains a small ceramic “stone” with lines of a poem inscribed.

Eventually each bar of soap will leave behind its relic, a poem reminding us of the cycle of water and waste. This artwork is experienced intimately and individually in many locations, all connected by the vast stream of the wastewater system.

The words inside each bar of soap are excerpted from Janet Norman Knox’s poem “Carbon Shining in Our Faces.” Different bars of soap have different stanzas of the poem inside them.

FROTH RINSE REFLECT SEND is part of Brightwater’s on-going public art programming, produced by 4Culture in partnership with King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division. As part of the Conveyance Project, Vaughn and five other King county-based artists are producing temporary artworks designed to inspire and engage the broader community in a conversation about water quality in our region, environmental stewardship and the extent of the Brightwater system.

Carbon Shining in our Faces

we are mostly water—two H

one O—polar and pulling

we read each other in our palms

1 human cell to 9 bacteria

froth hand over hand

rinse you swirl me

our Coriolis clockwise

northern hemisphere drains

DNA—elementary Watson

and Crick—quick—spin a glint

reflect light the Sound

send our C to salt and sea

-Janet Norman Knox

Janet’s Bio:

Seven-time Pushcart nominee and finalist for the Discovery/The Nation Award, Janet Norman Knox’s poems have appeared in Los Angeles Review, 5 AM, Crab Creek Review, Rhino, Diner, Seattle Review, Adirondack Review, Poetry Southeast, Red Mountain Review, and Diagram. Her chapbook, Eastlake Cleaners When Quality & Price Count [a romance] received the Editor’s Award (Concrete Wolf, 2007). She received the Ruskin Poetry Prize (Red Hen Press) in 2008. The Los Angeles Review nominated her for 2010 Best New Poets. Her poetry was used by composer Paul Lewis for his 2006 opera, Last Poem on Earth. She participated in a 2011 Jack Straw Foundation Grant in collaboration with artist Syracuse University Professor Anne Beffel. Janet Norman Knox is also an owner of 25-year old Pacific Groundwater Group, an environmental and water resource consulting firm. She is an Environmental Geochemist specializing in contaminant investigations and cleanup like a doctor of the land.