Sometimes a poem is not just a poem

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First aired on As It Happens (04/03/13)


It's a plot that sounds like something straight out of an old adventure novel: a rich old man hides a pile of treasure, then writes a poem containing clues to the treasure's whereabouts. But in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Forrest Fenn has done just that. The antiquities collector and part-time poet has come up with a complex and novel way to give away a fortune: he's filled a chest with treasure and hidden it somewhere in the mountains to the north of Santa Fe.

The treasure chest contains 265 gold coins, plenty of gold nuggets, and some semi-precious jewellery. It weighs 42 pounds. And anyone who finds it can keep it. But what possessed Fenn to do this in the first place? "In 1988 I was diagnosed with what everybody thought was terminal cancer," he told Carol Off on As It Happens earlier this week. "I've had so much fun collecting things over the last 75 years that I thought it would be kinda neat for other people to have as much fun as I have." So he bought an antique treasure chest for $25,000, and he has been filling the chest up with precious things since 1988.

His plan was to leave it hidden to be found after his death, but "the story was ruined when I got well," he said. "I had to change my plan."

But the treasure chest remains in the Rocky Mountains somewhere north of Santa Fe. And the map comes in the form of a poem. Fenn has also written a memoir, The Thrill of the Chase, which, he says, contains clues that will help readers decode the poem. "There are nine clues in the poem, and if you can figure out those clues, they'll take you right to the treasure chest and you can have it if you find it."

You can read Fenn's poem here.

This story got us interested in other poems that are more than just poems. Poems that are tattoos, for example. Or poems that are art. Or rendered artfully on a t-shirt. Our favourite, though, is this series of poetic video games. Check out the video below: