Monthly Archives: March 2012

Some stuff I learned about Graffiti and Street Art

So yesterday we went on a “Tagging Along” walking tour sponsored by the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  It was very cool and I learned some new things about Graffiti culture…

  • graffiti culture is broad and diverse.  the writer’s range from graphic designers taking their skills to the streets to gangs/crews tagging walls to mark their territories.
  • the art ranges from commissioned pieces by building owners, illegal pieces done in the night, and even to indoor art exhibit style works.
  • they generally will not tag anything or cover over a piece that is by a notable and respected street artist, unless they can add to it and make it better.  of course there are exceptions to this, like punks who just want to wreck something just because they can.
  • a lot of “old school” graffiti writer’s look down upon artist’s who use stencils for their graffiti, like the one pictured below.  I guess they think freehand graffiti earns more respect.
  • there is a lot of illegal graffiti, obviously.  However, in large cities like Toronto, there is also a lot of illegal advertising by big companies.  They place their billboards or posters in illegal places and actually budget for the cost of the fines.  By the time they get the fine or go to court to fight it, the advertising they got for it has already paid off.  That surprised me, but totally makes sense.
  • in Toronto, a lot of neighbourhoods welcome graffiti.  Artists often will approach property owners who may have ugly tags all over their buildings and offer to paint a mural or large piece to cover over the tags.  This actually deters the ugly tagging from showing up.

Those are just some points from discussion that I remember.  I’m sure I am missing a lot of other interesting stuff.

Anyway, I love it.  It sure brightens up the city and makes our grey concrete streets look a lot more interesting.

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Digital Alarm Clock – an original poem by me

(I wrote this poem many years ago…)

11:11pm

there you are in my head again

accusing me of being unfaithful

interrogating me

on my whereabouts

between 5:49 and 6:30

incriminations pounding in my brain

until 3am

when I have to get up at 7

every night at 10 after 11

your memory haunts my thoughts

“make a wish”

1:11     wishing i wasn’t so weak

2:22     wishing for some time to myself

3:33     wishing you weren’t such an asshole

4:44     wishing i had some kind of distraction

5:55     wishing i could wish this all away

11:11   wising i had never met you

and all the time

wondering if this really

was love

why we must be together

every waking hour

still never satisfying

your insatiable needs

gripping my hand

saying “i love you”

twenty times a day

leaving me grasping

for a piece of myself

i finally left you

changed my life

reclaimed my freedom

but even after all these years

when i my digital alarm clock reads 11:11

i remember your lies

promises never kept

threats to expose my soul

accusations wrapped

around my throat

11:12 

doesn’t come quickly enough

one 

suffocating

minute

long enough

to remind me

that i’ll never

go back there

again

A poem about releasing Fear

Joy Harjo is one of my s/heroes.  She is a warrior of the written word and I aspire to write words as moving and as powerful as hers…


I Give You Back
by Joy Harjo

I release you, my beautiful and terrible fear.
I release you.
You were my beloved and hated twin, but now, I don’t know you as myself.
I release you with all the pain I would know at the death of my children.
You are not my blood anymore.
I give you back to the soldiers who burned down my home, beheaded my children,
raped and sodomized my brothers and sisters.
I give you back to those who stole food from our plates when we were starving.
I release you, fear, because you hold those scenes in front of me and I was born with eyes
that can never close.
I release you, fear, so you can no longer keep me naked and frozen in the winter, or
smothered under blankets in the summer.
I release you  I release you  I release you  I release you
I am not afraid to be angry.
I am not afraid to rejoice.
I am not afraid to be black.
I am not afraid to be white.
I am not afraid to be hungry.
I am not afraid to be full. 
I am not afraid to be hated.
I am not afraid to be loved,
to be loved, to be loved, fear
Oh, you have choked me, but I gave you the leash.
You have gutted me but I gave you the knife.
You have devoured me, but I laid myself across the fire.
I take myself back, fear.
You are not my shadow any longer.
I won’t hold you in my hands.
You can’t live in my eyes, my ears, my voice, my belly, or in my heart
my heart  my heart  my heart.
But come here, fear.
I am alive, and you are so afraid of dying.