Somewhere in Uphams Corner, Hyde Park, Roslindale Square, and Dudley Square are four invisible poems. But wait for a spring shower and the sweet words of Langston Hughes or one of three Massachusetts poets will reveal themselves. Lucky pedestrians might come across the words while trudging along the city sidewalks.
The poems are stenciled on concrete with a biodegradable water-repellent spray, according to Sara Siegel, program director for Mass Poetry, a Boston nonprofit that supports local poets. Just add water and the pieces appear as if they fell from above. Hence the name of the art installation, “Raining Poetry.”
“Our hope is in the next two years,” Siegel said, “everyone in the state will encounter a poem in their daily lives at least once or twice a month. This a fun and unusual way to do that.”
The stencils first appeared on Park Street on April 1 in honor of National Poetry Month. Most recently, four poems were added on May 13. The Mayor’s Mural Crew traveled around the city installing the pieces one by one.
The project is the brainchild of Julie Burros, Boston’s arts and culture chief, and Michael Ansara, cofounder of Mass Poetry.
One poem is located in front of the Dudley Square Cafe in Dudley Square. In Uphams Corner, the poem is located near the Strand Theatre. Hyde Park’s poem is located by the branch library on Harvard Avenue. And in Roslindale, the poem can be found near the intersection of Washington Street and Cummins Highway.
The water-repellent spray wears off in six to eight weeks, but organizers hope to continue decorating Boston’s sidewalks with poetry. Siegel plans to include poems in Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Portuguese to reflect the city’s diverse populace.
The first four poems were chosen by the city’s Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges. In addition to “Still Here” by Hughes, one of the best-known voices of the Harlem Renaissance, Legros Georges chose untitled poems by Gary Duehr and Barbara Helfgott Hyett, and “Water” by Elizabeth McKim. It’s unexpected art, poetry in the wild waiting to creep up and inspire.
Wait for rain, or better yet don’t. Just bring a glass that’s half-full or half-empty. Throw the water on the ground. Drink up the words.