Guerrilla Poetry Projects

T.S. Eliot once observed that “genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”  This is a sentiment that  “guerrilla” poets embrace.  Guerrilla tactics, whether in war or in art, often rely on hit-and-run assaults, leaving the subjects of their surprise attacks a bit dazed and hopefully more aware.

This week, the website Flavorpill (by way of published a variety of  guerrilla poetry projects that are sneaking poetry into the lives of the largely unsuspecting public.  Here are ten of the best:


1.  Scottish artist Robert Montgomery installs subversive poetry on billboards, stripping away the large-scale ads for his black-and-white text. Other poems are set on fire. The anonymous works about modern life offer a moment of reflection, away from the consumerist gaze.

2.  The Itaewon neighbored of Seoul, Korea is littered with colorful dolls. American poet Andy Knowlton creates the tiny figures from found materials he collects on the streets. Each doll is outfitted with a bottle that contains a poem. “I want to surprise people going about their daily routines,” he told website Chincha. “Also, I’ve been writing poetry for several years now and I’m always trying to figure out new ways to get people interested in poetry. These dolls are just another approach to getting the good word out on poetry.”
3. New York City writer Audrey Dimola started the Compass Project in 2012. She stickers her poems around the city, releasing her work into the wild. They’re tiny signposts for eagle-eyed daydreamers.
4. London-based artist Anna Garforth is inspired by guerrilla gardening groups, which is why she transformed excerpts from several Eleanor Stevens poems into mossy wall text. The green words are attached with organic materials. Garforth creates the work with the hopes that the letters will grow and spread across the wall in time.
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Top Ten Pick-Up Lines in Literature


For the Power of Words, I give you Exhibit A: Arthur Miller (Death of a Salesman, The Crucibleand Marilyn Monroe.

As Exhibit B: Salman Rushdie (The Satanic Verses, Midnight’s Children and Padma Lakshmi.


I could go on.

Here are ten great lines from literature that just might help you get lucky, too. 


1.  “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

- From The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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After the Dash: Last Words of the Politically and Historically Infamous


The thing that is so fascinating about a person’s final words is, of course, that the person rarely knows those  utterances will be his or her last.

One of my favorite poems is W.S. Merwin‘s “For the Anniversary of My Death”:

Every year without knowing it I have passed the day
When the last fires will wave to me
And the silence will set out
Tireless traveler
Like the beam of a lightless star
Then I will no longer
Find myself in life as in a strange garment
Surprised at the earth
And the love of one woman
And the shamelessness of men
As today writing after three days of rain
Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease
And bowing not knowing to what.

Here are ten of those now-famous, or at least, interesting, last words:

1.  Marie Antoinette
Pardon me, sir. I did not do it on purpose.” - after she accidentally stepped on the foot of her executioner as she went to the guillotine.
2.  Dominique Bouhours (French grammarian) 

“I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.”

3.  King George V

“Bugger Bognor.”” - to his physician, who had suggested that he relax at his seaside palace in Bognor Regis.

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At the Intersection of Poetry and Music

Four adaptations of poems set to music: some tender, some bizarre, all personal homages to poems and their masters. Enjoy!

“I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” by Emily Dickinson

Composed by Israeli singer-songwriter Efrat Ben Zur.

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

“Sonnet 49″ by Pablo Neruda

The best loved love poet as sung by jazz artist Luciana Souza.

It’s today: all of yesterday dropped away
among the fingers of the light and the sleeping eyes.
Tomorrow will come on its green footsteps;
no one can stop the river of the dawn.

No one can stop the river of your hands,
your eyes and their sleepiness, my dearest.
You are the trembling of time, which passes
between the vertical light and the darkening sky.

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“The Town of Books” : Don’t Even Ask About WiFi


The Kingdom of Hay, in Wales, is more than just a little unique.  The entire “kingdom” is comprised of just 1,500 people but it boasts a whopping thirty second hand book stores… that’s one bookstore for every fifty people! Since 1960, the town has accepted used and discarded books and proudly calls itself  “The Town of Books.”  Kindles and their ilk, as you can see above, are not welcome.

The small hamlet lies on the border between England and Wales. Every year, to celebrate its love of books, Hay-on-Wye (its official name) hosts a literary festival dubbed “The Woodstock of the Mind.”

The town began its transformation to  a book haven in the mid-1960s  when one of its residents, Richard Booth, decided to start buying  books from libraries that were closing, both in the United States and Europe, and shipping them back to Hay-on-Wye. It didn’t take long to amass thousands of used books. Soon, the town had a “booming secondhand book scene.”

In 1988, the town hosted its first festival. In the intervening twenty-five years, the festival has grown in size and regularly attracts names not only in literature but also from science, and, gasp! technology, although those technophiles had better beware. (This year, Google’s Eric Schmidt was in attendance.) The town’s “Prince”  Derek Fitz-Pitt Booth Addyman warns, “People are smuggling e-readers into Hay-on-Wye, but I should make them aware that we are training poodle sniffer dogs to find them.” Probably a joke but…

If you are getting ready to pack your bags for this year’s ten day festival, better hold on. Unfortunately, the festival has just concluded. 2014′s Hay Festival runs from May 22 – June 1, 2014.



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