Tuesday, 26 June 2012

poems are falling from the sky

Today was the beginning of Poetry Parnassus: the poetry Olympics, held at the Southbank Centre all this week, and tonight was the event of Raining Poems. [I'm giving poems away in this post, details further down.]

It was an incredibly moving event. The premise: bomb London with poetry, in memory of air raids that the city has suffered in in the past and the damage those bombs caused. The organiser calls it a movement of 'peace and healing.'

A poem by a poet from each of the 204 Olympic nations was included in the bombardment, along with 50 additional poems by Chilean poets and 50 by UK poets. A total of 100, 000 poems were printed on bookmarks, to be thrown into the sky. We gathered next to the London Eye in the Jubliee Gardens on the Southbank, waiting for a helicopter to drop them down.

The poems were released. There was a bit of a breeze, so the event turned into a poetry hunt across all of the Southbank, and all across Waterloo Bridge... and even beyond!

'...the covers of time alone
are green like the last word in the world
when the wind blows
day and night at the gates of chaos...'

[Tanella Boni - Cote D'Ivoire]

The poems rained and rained, falling on the road, in the trees, on roundabouts, on the tops of cars, on buildings... Hundreds of people ran around catching them, and rescuing them from hidden places.

People who were further afield came up to us and asked us what was going on. When we explained, they got excited and started collecting poems, too.

Miles: poem catching.

'My love is an aviary of small birds
and I must learn to leave the door ajar...'

[Karen McCarthy Woolf - UK]


'...All corners are naked. 
All words are naked...'

[Arjen Duinker - Netherlands]

It was so much fun. In the end we managed to find lots: poems from 25 countries! 

We counted them, sorted them and read through them on the tube journey home. They are beautiful.

What a wonderful way to embrace poetry and peace. 

Out of the poems we collected, Miles and I had eight duplicates. So, everyone who replies to this post will have their name put into a hat, and eight names will be picked after 10th July. Those eight people will win a poem that fell from the sky. Please make sure that I am able to contact you via your post [ie, leave a twitter name, your email address or make sure your post links to your blog where I could leave a comment to get in touch.]

Raining Poetry is also happening in other cities that have been bombed. I leave you footage of poetry falling from the sky in Berlin.

I have a lot of love for the world tonight. 


  1. Although I'm in London and will be at other Poetry Parnassus events, I had to miss this, unfortunately. I'd love a poem so please put me in the draw...thanks!

  2. Oh wow.
    This made me tear up!! What an absolutely beautiful idea!! <3 <3 <3
    I LOVE it.

  3. I wish I could have been there! It sounds beautiful!


  4. If only I lived in the UK! What an awesome event! I'd love a poem that fell from the sky.


  5. I can't believe I missed this! Sounds amazing.

  6. wow, what an amazing event to experience. Such a beautiful idea too!! I wish more countries took that up. @FushigiFox (@hotmail.com)

  7. This sounds so cool! I live in the wrong damn country.

  8. Oh that sounds lovely! Please put me in the hat for a skypoem please! And apologies if this double posted; I am not trying to cheat! :)

    @badcushion on twitter

  9. Loved this story. I already got a lovely postcard this month so I won't be greedy and put my name in the hat. :-) Raining poems is such a beautiful idea.

  10. Incredible! Wish they would do something like this in my neck of the woods. I'd love a poem that fell from the sky!

  11. What a beautiful idea! Please put my name in the hat :-)

  12. What a great day! Raining poetry, I like it. Possible disaster turns into the coolest scavenger hunt ever. Lzbthbaker

  13. That's brilliant. Sky poetry is the new black, or soemthing.

  14. that's a beautiful idea <3 Sar x

  15. I LOVE this idea and had no idea the event was happening. So powerful and whimsical at the same time. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences, photos, and extra poems.

  16. I think I would have teared up too Jen! My nephews are currently invading Europe - I'll tell them to watch for poems from the sky!

  17. This is a beautiful idea and I would never have known about it but for your blog. Thank you.


  18. I'd love to have my name put in the hat.

    ( cape canaveral and false alarms @gmail, with periods instead of spaces. )

    M. Clare

  19. Hi everyone!

    Thanks for entering. The winners [picked from a hat] were Kat, Mclare, Jillian, mousecircus95, Katrina, Deanie, Clarissa and Janette. I'll be getting in touch to collect addresses.