The Art of Poetry Bombing

Poetry bombing event in Berlin

Chilean art collective Casagrande dropped 100,000 poems over the city of Berlin as a protest against war.

What if cities that have endured horrendous, wartime bombings could experience a different sort of “bombing”–one that would bolster the morale of its citizens, instead of breaking it?

In my introductory article on street art, I discussed yarn bombing, a new type of graffiti art that is being championed by artists like Olek and Jessie Hemmons. This week I came across two different art projects inspired by the idea of poetry bombing. The idea was new to me, so I was intrigued.

Since 2001 the Chilean art collective Casagrande has been staging “Poetry Rain” projects in cities like Warsaw, Berlin, Santiago de Chile, Dubrovnik, and Guernica–all cities that have suffered aerial bombings in their history. The most recent event took place in Berlin in 2010 and was part of the Long Night of Museums. Crowds of thousands gathered in the city’s Lustgarten as 100,000 poems rained down from the sky.

(Photo © Cara)


(Photo © Cara)

The poems, which were dropped from the helicopter by Casagrande, included work by 80 German and Chilean poets, including Ann Cotten, Karin Fellner, Nora Gomringer, Andrea Heuser, Orsolya Kalász, Björn Kuhligk, Marion Poschmann, Arne Rautenberg, Monika Rinck, Hendrik Rost, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Tom Schulz, Thien Tran, Anja Utler, Jan Wagner, Ron Winkler and Uljana Wolf.

A bookmark from Casagrande's poetry bombing in Berlin (Photo © Cara)


The work of 80 German and Chilean poets fell from the Berlin sky. (Photo © Cara)

Casagrande says that these poetry bombings are intended as a protest against war. (The Berlin event was also a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the independence of Chile). As the members of Casagrande told the Guardian, “wartime bombings were intended to ‘break the morale’ of the inhabitants of a city, so the poetry bombing ‘builds’ a new city by giving new meaning to events of her tragic past and therefore presenting the city in a whole new original way.'”

I loved watching this video of Casagrande’s poetry drop in Berlin. There is so much excitement and joy on the faces of the people gathered in the city’s Lustgarten. To renew a sense of child-like wonder through the experience of art, is a true gift to the citizens of Berlin. (If you are reading this article in an email, click here to watch the video).


Agustina Woodgate
While Casagrande’s poetry bombing events happen on a grand scale and require a great deal of planning and organization, the poetry bombing of artist Agustina Woodgate is a true guerrilla art project.


As part of the “O, Miami” poetry festival, Woodgate spent a month secretly sewing the poems of Sylvia Plath and Li Po into pants, dresses, and jackets in thrift stores around the country. She created the project to make poetry more accessible and to give customers an extra gift with their purchases.

Woodgate has become quite skilled at lurking in the aisles of thrift stores and says that she has rarely been caught. This video shows her poetry bombing project in action at Flamingo Plaza in Hialeah.

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By | 2016-11-11T21:55:42+00:00 08.24.11|Greatest Hits, Images, Process, Words|2 Comments

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.


  1. Philip Thrift August 31, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    These images and videos are terrific. What a great idea.

    • Michelle Aldredge August 31, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Philip. I’m glad you liked the piece. I hope you’ll visit Gwarlingo again.
      All the best,

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