Tonight London will be hit by a poetry storm -- that’s right, it will be raining poetry. Chilean arts collective Casagrande will drop 100,000 poems from a helicopter over the south bank of the Thames river at twilight. The poems double as bookmarks, and Casagrande assures that no poem will be left behind, leaving no remnants of the event -- "People who witness the gliding, glinting bookmarks exchange them, turning them into coveted goods for barter rather than litter."
This is not the first "Rain of Poems" to take place. Most recently, Casagrande dropped poems over Berlin, Germany, in 2010 and over Warsaw, Poland, in 2009. Their first "poetry bombing," as it's sometimes referred to, was in 2001 and took place in Chile over "La Moneda", the government palace that was bombed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet on September 11th, 1973.
Rain of Poems serves as a symbolic reappropriation of the past. All five cities that have been hit with poems (Berlin, Warsaw, Gernika, Dubrovnik, Santiago, and London), are cities that have been bombed during military strifes in the past. Through this symbolic "bombing of words," Casagrande hopes to “open up questions that help us to understand cultural works as pacifist practices and also to discuss what the place of poetry could be in the history of war.”
As for the poems themselves, there will be a poem by a poet from each of the 204 Olympic nations along with an additional 50 poems by Chilean poets and 50 by UK poets. The event kicks off Poetry Parnassus in London (running through July 1st), which is the largest poetry festival in the UK. The project includes readings, workshops and discussions with various poets elected through public voting.
Casagrande’s slogan reads, “no se vende ni se compra,” translated to “can’t be sold, can’t be bought,” meaning every project, every performative act, and each poetic utterance is completely free and for the collective imagination or re-imagining. Cheers to more events like this in the future!
Take a look at the slideshow below to see footage from some of the past "Rain of Poems":