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It’s Raining Poetry in Adelaide streets

Books & Poetry

Two University of Adelaide PhD students are seeking to brighten up winter with street poetry that is visible only when it rains.

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Camille Roulière and Marianne Braux were inspired to create Raining Poetry in Adelaide after Braux saw a similar project in the US city of Boston, run by a collective called Mass Poetry.

“They asked poets to give them some of their work and then they painted them on the street [using stencils] with the same invisible paint we’re using,” Roulière explains.

The invisible paint/spray is super-hydrophobic, meaning it repels water, and was developed in the US specifically to create hidden messages that appear on rainy days – hence they’re known Rainworks.

“It’s magical!” says Roulière.

She and Braux have been supported in their project by the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide. They were also assisted by Fab Lab, where they used a laser to create the stencils (pictured below) needed to transfer the poems onto pavements at various locations around the CBD, mostly in the East End.

“We need three days of dry weather to do the tagging, because the surface has to be completely dry, and then we need a full day for the paint to dry afterwards, so it’s a bit tricky,” Roulière says of the timing.

There are 18 poems in total, all by Adelaide poets. In addition to the two students, the other contributors include Alison Bennett, Jill Jones, Jennifer Liston, Alison Bennett and Banjo James.

A map on the Raining Poetry in Adelaide Facebook page shows where the various poems can be found. They should last for up to eight weeks, depending on the amount of foot traffic in each location.

Roulière says that in addition to exposing more people to poetry, she and Braux had another motivation: “To make the rain a little bit more enjoyable. Neither Marianne or I like the rain or winter; we find it a bit gloomy. This gives people something to look forward to when it rains.”

Raining Poetry in Adelaide will be officially launched at an event at the University of Adelaide’s Napier building this Friday, with several of the poets reading their work, plus photographs and videos of the installations. Luckily, rain is predicted, but if it doesn’t happen they’ll throw buckets of water on some of the nearby poems to bring them into view.

Below are two of the poems shared as part of the project:

‘Silence’ by Dancey Gordon (poem #2 on the map)

an abandoned building
a slow cold morning forever rolling over the hills
silence has a sound
and sometimes it howls.

‘The sky is leaking’ by Alison Bennett (poem #3 on the map)

The sky is leaking freshly-squeezed
cloud-juice
streaking the dust-covered
windows
purging itself of pent-up
humidity

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