“Think – wink – double wink – close your eyes and jump!”
That’s Bert, the chimneysweep, trying to work his magic on the drawings he’s chalked on a London sidewalk. Of course, Mary Poppins is the one who has the right words, and poof! She, Bert and the children slide into an imaginary universe beyond the pavement.
I was thinking of Mary Poppins as I helped choose and lay down the words of writers on a few sidewalks around Calgary this fall.
The project was inspired by similar ventures in Seattle and Boston. The spray paint? A special recipe designed to protect cellphones from moisture. When you spray it on sidewalk cement, the image or words you spray disappear, only to become visible when the surface is wet.
The Calgary Public Library and Wordfest teamed up to bring the idea to Calgary, and kicked off #YYCLiterarySidewalks on Alberta Culture Days. Four passages from Calgary writers were sprayed around town. Since then, six more have been added.
You can find a list at the Calgary Public Library website, along with author bios and sidewalk locations.
Next time the sidewalks are wet, go on a literary treasure hunt around town. You might think of Mary Poppins and the way, through art, you can be in the real, and the imagined city, at the same time.
Calgary's literature on city sidewalks? It’s magic.
(And, because now that Mary Poppins is in your head, you might just need a fix. The sidewalk scene.)
A few more pictures: