Thrift Store Guerilla Poetry:
Artist Agustina Woodgate visits second-hand stores with pre-threaded needles and strips of poetry printed on paper, much like fortune cookies. She quietly sews poetry onto random clothing labels. From Sylvia Plath and Li Po. One strip of paper she sews reminds us, “Life is a huge dream / why work so hard?” from the poem “Waking up drunk on a spring day” by Li Po.
“Places and objects are alive, we make them alive, they tell our stories and tales. Sewing poems in clothes in a way is giving the garments a voice. We are in relation — with others, with things, with the world. This being-in-relation, is a way of perceiving, a mode of moving, a narrative of global truths designed by cultural fictions. Sewing poems in clothes is a way of bringing poetry to everyday life just by displacing it, by removing it from a paper to integrate it and fuse it with our lives. Sometimes little details are stronger when they are separated from where they are expected to be.”
When I visited London in 1991, 2008 and 2010, I enjoyed seeing poetry in the Underground. Curious about its inception, here’s more about it:
“Poems on the Underground was launched in 1986, following an idea from the American writer Judith Chernaik, to bring poetry to a wider audience.
The program helps to make journeys more stimulating and inspiring by showcasing a range of poetry in Tube train carriages across London…
The poems celebrate the wonderful diversity of our great city, its squares, parks and markets, its vibrant present and its glorious past, its places and people, including the immigrant communities which have so greatly enriched London life and culture.”
A beautiful poem that illustrates the quality of verse found during an otherwise humdrum London tube ride is “Pilgrim” by Eunice de Souza (the last three lines are my favorite):
Pilgrim by Eunice de Souza
The hills crawl with convoys.
Slow lights wind round
and down the dark ridges to yet another
The red god rock
watches all that passes.
He spoke once.
The blood-red boulders
are his witness.
God rock, I’m a pilgrim.
Tell me –
Where does the heart find rest?
From Istanbul to Berlin, poet/artist Robert Montgomery uses not only billboards but pools, fire, watercolor and woodcuts to share verse. He states, “the goal of art is, for me, to communicate our innermost feelings to strangers.” His work is intriguing and stunning; definitely worth checking out.
These days, poetry is everywhere, including Instagram, Tumblr and Pinterest.
“Instagram poets” are, of course, simply poets, but they’re a phenomenon unto themselves because they have cleverly managed to combine the internet’s love of an inspirational quote with artful typography and immediate shareability. Poems are ideally suited, in some ways, to social media, because they pack so much meaning into so little language.
Whatever one might think of their work, they are unquestionably popular, and they are popular in an age when poetry is reputed to be dead.” Which is awesome.
There’s also tattoo poetry, funeral poetry, church pulpit poetry, PeeChee folder poetry…I could go on. Whatever you do this month, may poetry be part of that conversation. And this reminder:
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky.”
How are you celebrating National Poetry Month?