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Thursday, June 16, 2005

chalky blogging

I live in a neighbourhood that is very walkable and relatively dry, so I like to go out to the main sidewalk and write quotations and poetry (not mine -- as I wrote to a friend earlier, I am not a sadist) for people to read as they pass by. They're just in chalk, so they wash away with the rain (the poems, not the people), but I write them very neatly and even illustrate them sometimes. It is really meditative. Anyway, I apparently have become a bit of an institution in the 'hood; I always get people coming up and saying "so you're the one who writes these out here!" Some of the folks are very emotional in thanking me for doing this, and tell me that it actually affects their lives. Anyway, a cheap way to publish! A chalky blog, it you will. I should mention that my criterion for what I put out there is only: is it beautiful, humane, ennobling. I don't put anything political or negative there; there is enough of that around. Though living mere blocks from the Parliament I can't say I am not tempted. . .

I also don't preach or teach, except very sneakily, through the texts. But rarely are they overtly Christian things anyway, though of course all beauty really flows from Christ! I would love it if others copied me in this practice (some have already told me they are going to start doing this), but I would really encourage them to keep the same ethos. Imagine the pain people are carrying around with them. Don't add to their burden, rather lighten it if you can; give them some profound beauty to comtemplate on their way to work, or whatever.

It is raining right now, so my Robert Frost (the sonnet 'she is as in a field a silken tent') is vanishing, making room for something else. I love the idea that people don't know what they are going to see next. I have chalked, to date: Bob Dylan, St Ephraim the Syrian, John Donne, Chekhov, Shakespeare, Terry Pratchett, Emily Carr, Vaughan Williams, Woody Guthrie, John Ruskin, CS Lewis, GM Hopkins, Frank Zappa, Auden, GK Chesterton, Shelley, Coleridge, Wm Morris, Wm Blake, Charles Dickens, Rilke, Vigen Guroyan (Armenian Orthodox who wrote an exquisite book on the spirituality of gardening called Inheriting Paradise) andBruce Cockburn. He started it all; drawing with Ella I idly wrote 'look how far the light came to paint you this way' -- one of his lines -- and I noticed later from the living room window that people would stop and read it, just have a moment to think about that lovely idea, and chalky blogging was born. (Although I have never called it that until right now, and I never write any of my own 'stuff' out there.) There have been many more I can't remember right now; I've been doing it for a year now, excluding really bad weather. I really enjoy scouting out what to put out there next -- it has forced me to read a lot more poetry than I would otherwise! You know how, strangely, sometimes you have to be forced to do something you actually love. . .

2 comments:

Tabatha said...

I like your chalky blogging too.

Anonymous said...

It's so great you might think about carrying some chalk around with you.

It is crazy how you have to force yourself to do things you love.