Bombing of Poems

Bombing of Poems is a performance in which cities that have experienced aerial bombing in the past are sprinkled with poems in the present. The performance consists of dropping one hundred thousand poems printed on bookmarks from an aircraft – a helicopter or plane – over cities bombed during military confrontations in the past. The bookmarks are released at twilight and printed in two languages, written by both Chilean writers and poets native to the location of the Bombing of Poems.
Until now, the performance has been carried out in five different cities:

  • In 2001 we released poems over ‘La Moneda’, the government palace of Chile (bombed by Pinochet on 11 September 1973)
  • In 2002 poems rained over the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia (shelled on 6 December 1991 by Serbian and Montenegrin forces)
  • In 2002 poems fell over the city of Guernica, Basque Country, Spain, (suffered the first Nazi air-bombardment on 26 April 1937)
  • In 2009 poems were dropped over the city of Warsaw, Poland, (destroyed during World War II, in which air-bombing became an important military strategy)
  • In 2010 a Rain of Poems took place in Berlin, Germany (suffered devastation in World War II)
  • In 2012 a Rain of Poems took place in London, England (suffered devastation in World War II)

Each time the cargo of poems was released over a city, every single bookmark was picked up by the crowd. People who witness the gliding, glinting bookmarks exchange them, turning them into coveted goods for barter rather than litter.

This performance has a symbolic value that serves to create an alternative image of the past. The Rain of Poems proposes, therefore, to be a gesture of remembrance in the present but also a metaphor for survival (of cities and peoples). It respects both the victims of the traumatic experience of an air bombing, and those ethical questions behind the context of warfare in which the decision to deploy such weapons is made. These proposals are made within the context of a symbolic event that can open up a new discursive space, one that goes beyond familiar discourses of remembrance of past events. The project creates a debate between cities, art practises and texts which orientate memories of conflict towards a different future. As Freud argued, “we may rest on the assurance that whatever makes for cultural development is also working against war”.

An introduction to casagrande Bombing of Poems performance in Berlin