This winter, after a few weeks of feeling pretty down, my spirits were lifted in the oddest place—a diner bathroom in Burlington, Vermont. The walls were decorated with quotes, and on the side of the stall I happened to enter was this from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Just that simple reminder did me a ton of good. You can almost imagine Eleanor saying it with a bit of sternness in her voice; but only because she knows you are capable picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. I remember thinking how lovely it would be to find messages like those more often, which is why I was so pleased to come across Miami-based artist Augustina Woodgate, who sews little poems into the tags of thriftstore clothes, at work in the video, above. (
I love the idea of taking a worn pair of jeans off the rack to discover a poem or quote hidden there, a secret meant for me to find.
Woodgate seems particularly interested in people engaging with poetry that they may not otherwise read, but I’m more excited by the idea of the little bits of light you can bring to someone’s day with such a simple act. Imagine if we all grabbed some paper, a pen, and a pack of tiny safety pins and left a trail of messages in our wake? Just that small anonymous connection to another person could do wonders.
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‘lines written in the days of growing darkness’ (mary oliver)
6 replies on “the magic of guerilla poetry (become a poetry bomber)”
Have you ever seen the movie “Elling”? It is a Norwegian Film from 2001, directed by Petter Næss. You will appreciate the “Underground Poet” part! It is truly worth seeing! Thank you for your post – the world needs more poetry!!!
I like Augustina’s generosity and spirit. I hope I find one of her gifts at my local thrift shop!
Her project reminds me of one my art collective did over a decade ago, inspired by an activist urgency. After the acquittal of O.J. Simpson in the murder trial of his ex-wife and her friend, we designed, produced and then inserted small cards into womens’ magazines in news stands, unbeknownst to the shop owners. These discreet cards gave unsuspecting women information about domestic violence hotline numbers and local shelters. We wanted to make sure local women knew there was safe and anonymous help for them.
As I suspect is also true with Augustina’s project, we don’t know what the response was to these cards, but we felt the urge to do something with our frustration over the outcome of the trial and the message it sent to domestic violence perpetrators and victims.
Thank you so much for letting us know about it. We’ll try to find it.
Pamela, thank you for telling us about this thoughtful illuminating guerilla action, that could only do good. It reminds me that there are many ways to insert positive messages…It would be so easy to print cards with poetry or quotes or useful information and insert them in magazines and newspapers, in library or bookstore books….or even have stickers made – easy – and stick them on walls.
This reminds me of lyrics to an Ani Difranco song that has always stuck with me. It goes “Sometimes the beauty is easy, sometimes you don’t have to try at all, sometimes you can hear the wind blow in a handshake, sometimes there’s poetry written right on the bathroom wall.”
Perfect…we need to have it playing as you read the post.