Students paint “rain poetry” on Florence streets--it’s visible when wet

May 8, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – The springtime showers are bringing more than flowers – they’re bringing poetry to downtown Florence.

Wilson High School English III students competed to have their poems featured as rain poetry on the sidewalks of downtown that only appears when the sidewalks are wet. The students stenciled the poems Tuesday on Dargan Street outside the Pee Dee Mental Health Center, Performing Arts Center and Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation Library.

Wilson High School teacher Laura Hofler’s English students took part in a workshop with Jo Angela Edwins, a professor of English at Francis Marion University, in which they learned about the elements of poetry.

Edwins went to Wilson High School during her spring break to teach students. She said she hopes the students had as much fun at the workshop as she had teaching it.

“It was really, really good stuff,” Edwins said. “I was very impressed, and I was very impressed with how enthusiastic they were at the workshop.”

After the workshop, students continued to work on the poems at home, and then they submitted their poems to Edwins to select lines from some of the poems.

Nearly 20 students from three different classes were selected to be featured as rain poetry, and all of the students teamed up to create the stencils and paint them to the sidewalks.

“I can’t wait to see the finished product, but it’s really fun to see them putting it down there enjoying it, spacing everything just right, doing the kinds of things that actual poets and artists do just right because a lot of times the devil is in the details,” Edwins said.

Some students wrote about the direct connection between poetry and rain.

“Some receive poems like rain drops/Trickling down from a considerate cloud,” Evan Reid’s poem said.

Other students wrote about topics besides rain. Sophomore Lois Sarmiento wrote about the Opportunity rover that died in February.

“I etch trails of deep furrows in red copper ruins with their brows slithering through rolling folding dunes,” her poem reads.

Sarmiento’s poem can be viewed outside the Pee Dee Mental Health Center.

“At first I honestly was just having fun making the poem,” Sarmiento said. “I didn’t think I’d get selected.”

Hofler said rain poetry has been done across the country, but she first read about it in an article about the Columbia poet laureate sponsoring a similar project.

“I thought wouldn’t it be kind of cool if we could do the same thing here with a local poet,” Hofler said.

The poems will be available for a few months and will fade away on their own.