Boston’s Footpaths are Covered in Secret Poems

They become visible only after a shower of rain.  
Boston Poem
In Boston, the writing is often on the pavement. The "Raining Poetry" initiative currently features only English verse, but organizers plan to include works in Portuguese, Creole, and Spanish, too. Photo: Mass Poetry/Facebook

A new public art project in Boston, aptly named “Raining Poetry”, is livening up the city’s sidewalks with invisible poems that appear only after a spell of rain. Pedestrians dodging puddles in a downpour will encounter the words of local poets like Langston Hughes and Elizabeth McKim.

The verses are set down using water-resistant spray and beautifully designed stencils. When the pavement darkens with rain, the sprayed-on text emerges, and lingers until the pavement dries up. Better still, the spray is biodegradable and washes off after about six to eight weeks.

Raining Poetry is a joint effort by City Hall and a non-profit called Mass Poetry. The first poems were sprayed on April 1 to mark National Poetry Month in the U.S.A though similar art projects with water-resistant materials have appeared in the American cities of Seattle and Atlanta too. Now imagine, walking down Mumbai’s Marine Drive on an overcast monsoon day to find a verse by Arundhati Subramaniam emerge just as it starts to rain: “I live on a wedge of land/ reclaimed from a tired ocean/ somewhere at the edge of the universe.”


    Kamakshi Ayyar is Features Writer on National Geographic Traveller India's web team. She's partial to places by the sea and desserts in all forms. When she isn't raving about food, she's usually rambling on about the latest cosmic mysteries. She tweets as @kamakshi138.

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