Their discussion of graffiti got me thinking. One of the things I am always interested in is the continuity of human behaviour throughout the ages. Ancient Romans loved graffiti, and so do their modern counterparts.
I was in Naples the week before last, visiting sites connected with the Roman poet Virgil. As a classical archaeologist and historian, I knew should be taking photos of columns and amphitheatres but my camera kept snapping the amazing graffiti I saw everywhere. On the one hand I feel dismay, that the Italians should so mar their buildings. But on the other hand I admire much of it. I appreciate the beauty of shape, colour and form that David Almond and Sally Gardner were praising.
Some of the Neapolitan graffiti is pure image: no words of any kind. They can be funny, beautiful, startling. For example, a bollard animated into a face.
You find wholes buildings covered with graffiti.
Some of the messages are quotes, like this one (below) by movie director and poet Silvano Agosti: Don't put flowers in the window of a prisoner's cell [because if one day the door should open, he will not want to leave.]
Political slogans are popular, e.g. Tremonti & Napolitano are slaves of the middle-class.
And, just as in Roman times, sometimes graffiti expresses longings and passion. Each one suggests a story behind it, or a hundred stories!
|"What a beautiful life"|
|"The future is not written"|
You could do the same thing using graffiti in a city. So you might put together images such as a the ones above to make a poem like this:
WHAT A BEAUTIFUL LIFE
THE FUTURE IS NOT WRITTEN
I LOVE YOU RAFFAEL
Next time you're a passenger in a car, on a train or simply walking, look around and take note of the beauty and poetry of graffiti. Oh, and watch out for the Punk Beasts, too!
Caroline Lawrence is author of The Roman Mysteries & The P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries. She is currently working on ways of retelling Virgil's Aeneid and visited The Land of the Sibyl with Andante Travels.