As writers, I think it’s important to always try and use words and language in new and surprising ways. I can’t say exactly how to go about this, but you always know when you hear a killer phrase that sounds exactly right, and also sounds like something you’ve never heard before. (Some examples for me are Kafka’s assertion that “A book must be the ax for the frozen sea within us” or Li-Young Lee’s description of “the barb / called world, that / tooth-ache, the actual” though there are of course endless others.)
That being said, it seems like everyone’s a writer these days, so maybe using words in new ways isn’t enough. Maybe we need to re-purpose not just language but the things we associate with language. There are people out there making amazing pictures out of library date-stamps and incredibly intricate and beautiful paper sculptures that are left anonymously for others to discover. Other cool people are “poetry bombing” local thrift stores and my only question is: why didn’t I think of that?
It’s probably because I’m not very good at craft-y things, and I’m especially hopeless at visual arts (for more on skills I don’t have, see here), but I’m all about this guerrilla art thing. I don’t know that it can quite be called a movement yet, since these artists aren’t, as far as I know, organized in any way, and most prefer to work alone, but I like the idea of a guerrilla art movement a whole lot. I propose we start one. Who’s with me? We can call it Artsault. (Too obvious? We’ll work on it.) I mean, why not catch people off guard with beautiful and surprising things? Why not chalk the sidewalks or grafitti walls with lines of e.e. cummings and Bukowski? (Think what a kick they’d get out of it.) Hell, at least scrawl a line on the bathroom wall next time you’re drunk at the bar. Think what a kick you’d get out of seeing that later.
We all need more things like that in the world. I may not be as capable as Banksy when it comes to shoving art into the public’s face (even if he can be a cheeky bastard), but I’m sure there are still ways I can contribute to the movement. Next time you buy a box of Cheerios that has a poem taped to the back, you’ll know who to thank.