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 booooooom.com) 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.