It’s Raining Poetry in Saranac Lake

People applaud a demonstration of the Raining Poetry Project in front of the post office on Broadway, Saranac Lake. (Provided photo — Baylee Annis, Adirondack Center for Writing)

SARANAC LAKE — If you’re feeling down on a rainy day, heading outside might bring an uplifting message — poems on downtown sidewalks that only appear when wet.

The Adirondack Center for Writing and the village of Saranac Lake Arts and Culture Advisory Board teamed up on the Raining Poetry Project, which the village Board of Trustees approved in June.

Invisible Spray is a clear coating that repels water when sprayed on surfaces such as concrete and wood. While the rest of a sidewalk gets darker in color when it’s wet, the sprayed portion remains light-colored. With stencils, it can be used to show words or images that appear like invisible ink when wet.

Nathalie Thill, executive director of Adirondack Center for Writing, brought the idea to the Arts and Culture Advisory Board. It’s something she has wanted to do for a while.

“Raining Poetry gives us a reason to look forward to rainy weather: poetry when you need it the most,” she said in a press release.

Twenty poems were nominated for inclusion, and community members chose six, a mix of local and national poets: Hanif Abdurraqib, Stuart Bartow, Neil Gaiman, Mary Oliver, Mary Sanders Shartle and Danez Smith.

If you want to read the poems in the full length, you can do so at www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org. A video of the Raining Poetry Project can be seen at https://youtu.be/gtWyDQ3UgUk, shot by Jordan Craig and produced by Bing Bang Boom Inc.

“What could be more fun on a rainy day than coming across some unexpected poetry on our village sidewalks when it rains?” village Trustee Melinda Little said in the release. “I love this new and decidedly different project that showcases the creativity that we have in abundance in Saranac Lake.”

The six sidewalk locations are as follows:

¯ River Walk behind Rice Furniture

¯ River Street at Main Street, in front of Riverside Park

¯ Broadway in front of Berkeley Green

¯ Main Street in front of the Saranac Lake Free Library

¯ Broadway in front of the post office

¯ Saranac Lake Skateboard Park ramp.

The spray is not permanent. Its manufacturer, Rainworks, says it lasts two to four months on average. The village bought two bottles of the Invisible Spray, which cost $130 each. If $130 seems like a lot for a bottle of spray paint, village Community Development Jamie Konkoski said $260 is a low price for a public art installation.

“Once dry, rainworks are completely non-toxic, environmentally safe, and biodegradable,” the company says on its website. “The solvent in Invisible Spray means you should not pour it down the drain, but when used as instructed, its solvent evaporates and does not enter the water system.”


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