10 Nov 2010

Diary of a Billsticker – Washington DC, USA

10 Nov 2010

 “We are coming Frew!”

This weekend I am away to Washington DC, on active service, to put up poetry posters and there’ll be a side trip to Baltimore, Maryland, as well. I’ve postered Baltimore previously. This city is important, in a sense, to at least one of our poets. Of course, it’s also very important to a lot of people because of the television show, ‘The Wire.’ It’s very rarely these days that you see the truth told like that. The truth now has to be put into fiction because otherwise no one would believe it and they’d be frightened of it. But I think everyone believes “The Wire.”

With poem postering, you can look behind you and see the clear results. People reading the poems. So these people have already voted. When you see people reading a Tusiata Avia poem they just about spontaneously combust, with a half a dozen of our other poets people seem to think deeply, and with some of our poems people laugh. That’s the net result.

There used to be, and maybe there still is, a demolition company in Christchurch, New Zealand, called Frews. It seemed to me they were a force of their own and before they knocked over a building they’d paint somewhere, “We are coming Frew.” They did. I think the same about our poetry project.

Good poetry is often very, very simple and postering is about the simplest thing one can do. The appeal of it to me is that it works and you can see it working. Life, after all, is meant to be about movement and action. First we advance, then we see what transpires. So it is then that our project has taken on life.

When we started the initiative, we thought it was time to take some small moves to bring some truth and beauty to the streets.

We started doing this about eighteen months ago to put poetry posters in the streets of cities and towns throughout New Zealand. Then, because the project excited people, we wanted to place them in as many places as we could afford to internationally. The poems are by Kiwis and Americans. These are two countries that you could say are ‘estranged’ in many ways. But never really are they estranged in the arts. Funny that.

So far, internationally, we’ve ‘poemed’ Glasgow, Paris, NIS in Serbia, Vienna, Sydney, and dozens of towns and cities throughout the USA. Some of these American towns and cities have been: Portland, Seattle, Casa Grande (Arizona), Boulder, Chicago, Baltimore, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis, and Cookeville (Tennessee), Clarksdale, Tupelo, Oxford, and seven or eight smaller towns in Mississippi. We also postered in Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Newark, Perth Amboy, Princeton, and Lambertville (New Jersey), and a wee sprinkling in New York City. You could poster in the Big Apple day and night for five or six years and I’d love to do that.

Phantom has hosted several ‘launches’ and readings in New Zealand in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin and we’ve put up thousands of posters now. In Auckland, the US Consul came along to read a poem and that chuffed us. In the USA, we’ve hosted a launch in Cookeville, Tennessee and one in Seattle, Washington.

Some of our poets have been (and I usually forget some names and I’m sorry for that): Janet Frame, Jay Clarkson, Frankie McMillan, Sam Hunt, Bill Manhire, Sandra Bell, Lawrence Arabia, Chris Knox, Otis Mace, Gary McCormick, Michele Leggott, Pablo Nova, Stephen Oliver, Ben Brown, Brian Turner, Jackie Steincamp, Nicholas Thomas, Hilaire Campbell, Tusiata Avia, Mariana Isara, David Eggleton, Geoff Cochrane, and Bill Direen from New Zealand. Then from the USA: Robert Creeley, Josie McQuail, Michael White, Jeffery McCaleb, Robert Pinsky, Marcie Sims, Gerald Stern, Joe Treceno, and Roy Smith.

There’ll be others.

In March 2011 we are having another launch at the worldwide head office of Saatchi and Saatchi in New York City and I’d say this will spin the project bigger and further and that’s what we want. I don’t always think bigger and better is best, but in this case, I do.

Wish me luck in DC.
 

Keep the Faith,

 

 

Jim Wilson

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