October 6, 2016
Sometimes you have to be in the right mood for poetry. But in some parts of Dorchester, you also have be under the right meteorological conditions.
If you’re in Fields Corner, Uphams Corner, or Mattapan, it’s got to be raining or snowing for verse to magically appear before your eyes and under your feet. In those neighborhoods, short poems appear when sidewalks get wet enough, and it seems to be “Raining Poetry.”
Such is the state of pop-up (or trickle-down?) culture these days, with art rearing its pretty head at the most surprising times and in the most unexpected places.
These apparitions come courtesy of the City of Boston and Mass Poetry, a non-profit dedicated to promoting poetry writing and poetry appreciation in the Bay State.
A couple of weeks ago, the city’s Office of Arts and Culture, in partnership with the Mayor’s Mural Crew, the Boston Art Commission and Mass Poetry, unveiled “Raining Poetry 2.0,” the second round of public art installations that reveal “invisible” poetry on the city’s sidewalks during rainfall.
To ensure that the installations display properly, the Mayor’s Mural Crew uses biodegradable water-repellent spray that vanishes when dry, so the poems remain invisible until it rains. Once wet, the area around the poem darkens, disclosing the hidden poem to pedestrians.
Using the special paint and simple cardboard stencils, city workers “printed” the verses on the cement in a matter of minutes. Alas, these quickly installed works will wear away in a mere six to eight weeks. Building on the success of the first installations that were unveiled in May, four new ones were added this September.
“Since it was first announced in May, Raining Poetry has received an overwhelmingly positive response from the public who were thrilled to see more public art in their neighborhoods,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “I am excited we are able to add more of these creative installations in new languages to our streets in Boston, adding to our collection of public art and catching the attention of passers-by in new and exciting ways.”
The project was initiated to showcase more public art in the city, as well as to illustrate the local heritage of different Boston neighborhoods.
For the first round of “Raining Poetry,” Boston Poet Laureate (and Dorchester resident) Danielle Legros Georges selected the four works by poets with ties to Massachusetts, which were then put in the following locations: The Dudley Square Café (Lower Roxbury), the Strand Theatre (Uphams Corner), Adams Park (Roslindale), and the Hyde Park Public Library.
The second batch features pieces in either English or Haitian Creole to reflect the neighborhoods where they are placed.
The September-October selections may be found in the following locations:
From Pwezi miste, pwezi late, 1328 Blue Hill Ave., Mattapan.
Untitled, 1961 Centre St., West Roxbury.
Untitled, Fields Corner, 1520 Dorchester Ave.
Let, 500 Columbia Road, Uphams Corner.
“We’re thrilled at the response that the initial installation received, including requests from communities all across the world to make it rain poetry where they live,” said Sara Siegel, program director for Mass Poetry. “Mass Poetry’s mission is to bring poetry to the people and we are proud to be able to do so with such an innovative public art project.”
The water-repellent spray paint will probably fade away forever by the end of October, so keep your head bent and your eyes open as you stroll through the hood. You just might “stumble” upon a pavement littered with literature.