This was a poster run that took place over the July 4th weekend in New York City and once again I was a man possessed by the idea of getting some poetry into the streets. I usually feel that if mankind were restored to its natural state, then it would be one of putting up posters somewhere with a broom…. A place on the outskirts of town in the dark and in the dust…. But that each poster would shine. I believe Harry Sparkle (one of the great all-time posterers) is still out there with a paste bucket and glue in his hair.
I didn’t have a chance to re-up my supplies of posters before I left, so these were the same poets as featured in the Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts run: David Eggleton, Serie Barford, Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, Sonja Yelich, James K. Baxter, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Stephen Oliver, Hone Tuwhare, Jay Clarkson, Hinemoana Baker, Bill Direen, Becky Woodall and Aroha Harris. Or maybe they were the run before this. After a while of putting up posters (and particularly poetry posters), you just give way to the feeling and you dream about posters and then you tend to single out particular meter boxes and lamp-posts in your dreams.
So you just go into flow and each poster that you put up pulsates in your body. You are trying your utmost to have each poster ‘connect’ with a viewer. Then, before long you’re thinking about using a hydraulic drill to place them as if you could just make one huge statement that would be heard everywhere. But of course, no one can do that. So the poetry thing just kind of alerts people at odd angles that things could be different and yet you know it’s not going to be anytime soon. It’s all kind of gentle movements and with a quiet and peaceful motive force, and we must keep that in mind. I always see people reading the posters as I go and I’m happy with that and it keeps my feet on the ground. I know the Phantom Billstickers poetry project is touching people in their hearts. It’s not CNN, but it’s not bad. It’s all incremental and should go on for years.
I remember I had a competitor postering against me in Auckland once and it has been said that he would go out on thirty-six-hour poster runs. Then, years ago, I met the guys who do the posters in the UK. There had been some kind of poster fight for the city of Manchester where so much of the world’s great music has come from. In that fight, someone had a hand hacked off with a machette. The ‘Music Industry’ used to depend on breaking bands in either London or Manchester and vast numbers of posters were put up. If a band ‘broke’ in London say, they’d break around the world, they’d be heard everywhere and the band could then record their next record in Palm Springs. Now there’s a good chance that if a band breaks in Spreydon they will be unknown in Sydenham, so hands don’t seem to be cut off anymore. Fair enough, there’s still plenty of venom and sarcasm on the internet, but so what? It’s the people who front up that I like.
Anyway, I love New York and who couldn’t? It’s got plenty of meter boxes where people put posters and lots of telephone boxes seemingly built for that purpose. Then there are many notice-boards in cafes and a real sense of community (at a very street level) comes about. I just think the city is so old that it has lost any sense of pretense that it may have once had synthetic ‘town planners’ that can’t get it by the short and curlies and turn the whole place into some huge Riccarton Mall. It’s a wild and extremely passionate place and it’s where creativity is a cherished notion. It swings every which way on a very big axis.
I don’t have a hell of a lot else to say really. I consider that I put up the posters in really great sites. I remember a couple of poem posters (Bill Direen’s and David Eggleton’s) where I got them on meter boxes and was so stoked by the whole thing that I stood at a distance for a long time and watched people reading them. I felt the same yearning as I wanted to think the viewer felt. It all slowed down my pulse rate and made me feel good.
Keep the Faith,