Architecture + Poetry = Synchronicity

Synchronicity – the simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

It’s been a magical week.  And the only explanation for it is pure synchronicity.  Even that word – synchronicity – emerged from a synchronous event.

My version of “Cheers” is my neighborhood fitness center.  After more than a year of showing up there on a near-daily basis, I’ve gotten to know the regulars and they’ve gotten to know me and my architecture career dream.  I don’t know if they think I’m crazy, but they humor me – in helpful ways – and that is how I learned from the personal fitness trainer that there would be a modern home tour in Knoxville the weekend after Easter.  Synchronous event #1: I never would have known about this otherwise.

As I looked in to the details of this tour, I learned that this was one of several events organized by the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (ETAIA) in commemoration of National Architecture Week, celebrated every year during the week of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.  Synchronous event #2: Thomas Jefferson was a devoted follower of Andrea Palladio, whom I have been studying myself for some time now.  Local events for the week included the tour, a lecture, a symposium, a design contest, and a gala.

About the same time, in late March, I received an invitation to a poetry event from a nationally recognized, award-winning poet who happens to spend some of her mornings at my fitness center.  Synchronous event #3a: How cool is that? and #3b: It was the same weekend as the modern home tour.

When the anticipated weekend arrived, I spent the cold, gray Saturday afternoon touring the modern homes around town, generously shared by their proud owners to the public.  On Sunday afternoon, I sat in the audience of the poetry reading with my dear, willing friend – neither one of us had ever been to a poetry performance before – and we both thought it was a great experience.  Poetry is so raw and honest.  During the Q&A session with the panel of poets that followed, a gentleman asked them all to describe their creative process.  I was so glad he asked!  I loved hearing their answers.  Synchronous event #4: This was so helpful to me as someone who is always wanting to learn more about how creative minds work.

The next morning at the fitness center, I saw my poet friend.  Synchronous event #5: I hadn’t seen her much lately and now I’d seen her twice in as many days.  I told her how much I enjoyed the event and how much I got out of her answer to the man-in-the-front-row’s questions.  She said, “Yes, he was so thoughtful.  He’s an architect.”  Synchronous event #6: enough said.

That night, I attended the lecture, which was given by Finnish architect Juhani Pallasmaa.  Two things stood out from what he said:

  • He advised students (the primary audience) to “make friends with craftspeople, poets (Synchronous event #7), and artists – they can teach you what quality is.”
  • “The work expresses the maker.”  Synchronous event #8:  I recently read in a local magazine that Knoxville has been named the “Maker City.”

I attended the architecture symposium the following night.  It was an entertaining event with local architects giving presentations on local projects.  As I was waiting for things to get started, I chatted with a friendly woman who had moved to Knoxville not long before me.  We talked about how much there was to do in this relatively small city and how she had just been to a poetry event.  I said I was at a poetry event.  “At the Flying Anvil?” she asked.  “Yes!” I said.  Synchronous event #9.  “And I’m so glad that guy asked that question about the poets’ creative process.  I got so much out of that.”  And she said, as she pointed to the row of chairs behind me, “Oh, that was my husband.  He’s an architect.”  Synchronous event #10: Are you kidding me?!?

The next day, I related this entire story to the woman who accompanied me to the poetry reading:  “I can’t believe it!” she said.  “What synchronicity!”  Synchronous event #11: The perfect word to describe the dominant theme of the week.

But wait!  There’s more.

Taking inspiration from a speaker at the symposium, who gave a lively etymology lesson on the word “symposium,” I searched for the origin of the word “poetry.”

Poetry – the term derives from a variant of the Greek term, poiesis, “to make.”  Synchronous event #12a: This is what architects do – make buildings; and #12b: we’re back to Knoxville’s new moniker, the Maker City.

In sketch form – on the backs of envelopes, of course – my week of synchronous events looks like this:

Like poetry: raw and honest

And so it is that the month of April is both National Architecture Month and National Poetry Month: two vocations I previously thought had nothing to do with each other actually have more similarities than differences.

Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretations to words, or to evoke emotive responses.

Similarly, figures of speech such as metaphor, simile and metonymy create a resonance between otherwise disparate images—a layering of meanings, forming connections previously not perceived.

~ Wikipedia, “Poetry”

For me, these kinds of serendipitous phenomena make life wondrous and I felt it was worth documenting these events.  The month of Architecture and Poetry is still young, but I don’t expect to have another week like this for a while.

Maybe next April…


  1. Why in the world would you say this wasn’t well written. It’s flawless, captivating, filled with information the reader can learn from. In other words, a perfectly written piece that anyone would benefit from reading. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. I am so happy you enjoyed the post. Thank you for the encouraging words and for introducing me to the world of poetry. I’ll try not to doubt myself again!

Comments are closed.