Last night, London was hit by an unusual storm. Instead of the normal rain, 100,000 poems poured down from a helicopter flying above the south bank of the Thames River at dusk. Chilean arts collective, Casagrande, was involved in planning the poetry “bombardment” and assured the city that no poem would be left behind, as the airdropped poems conveniently double as bookmarks. They announced that the beautiful, glinting poems would be items to share, trade and save – not litter.
Casagrande is made up of poets Cristóbal Bianchi, Julio Carrasco and José Joaquín Prieto, whose slogan “no se vende no se compra” translates to “ can’t be sold or bought”. It means that every poem, every act and every project is absolutely 100% free and can be imagined or re-imagined as the viewer pleases.
The first Rain of Poems occurred in Santiago, Chile over the city’s iconic Palacio La Moneda in 2001 after former dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was arrested in London and eventually released and brought back to Chile. The arts collective viewed it “as an outlet for the great joy we found in finally being able to express ourselves, particularly in public spaces”. Casagrande added that it is “an expression of peace and healing”.
Gernika, Dubrovnik, Warsaw and Berlin have all participated in previous years. The movement is a symbolic barrage, as all the cities have been affected by military bombardments in the past.
The event also held special cultural significance for the beginning of the 2012 Olympics. A poem was included for each of the 204 Olympic countries, along with 50 additional poems from Chilean poets and 50 from the United Kingdom.
The project was sponsored by the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Relations, through the Department of Cultural Affairs (Dirac), the National Council of Arts and Culture (CNCA) and the Fundación Imagen de Chile, the foundation responsible for promoting Chile’s image abroad.
This post is also available in Spanish