RainLit showers spell art for Williamsburg sidewalks

The refreshing rain of March means spring's rejuvenating bliss is upon us. This year, it will also bring art to the city's sidewalks.

The Williamsburg Book Festival and the Triangle Arts & Culture League are collaborating for RainLit, a literary works series where the art is always at our feet. Local writers were able to submit original work with one major catch: the length must be limited to 10 words or less. Short poems and phrases that celebrate Williamsburg life and art were welcome.

"It's easy to write a lot of words," Greg Lilly, a local author and festival volunteer, said. "It's hard to write a few."

Judges will choose roughly 10 winners based on literary quality, inventiveness and relevance to the city. Those selected will be notified via email.

The winners' works, along with their names, will be applied to sidewalks all over the Williamsburg area using stencils; a special water-repellant spray will ensure the words are only visible when wet.

The idea sprang from a video originating in Seattle, a logical birthplace for rainy brainstorming.

"I thought it would be fun to try," Lilly said. "We're writers and it's hard to get words out in front of people."

Lilly is excited to surprise people on a rainy day. A smartphone-based scavenger hunt will also encourage residents and visitors to find and record the various installations.

"We want to show people that public art is a lot of different things," Lilly said, adding that it is more than just sculptures.

Ultimately, the goal is discovery.

"There are a lot of writers around here," Lilly said. "There are a lot of people who are doing a lot of work that no one knows about."

Lilly said those worried about preserving Williamsburg's beauty need not worry.

"We make sure it's very tasteful and well-written," he said.

The series is part of Williamsburg Spring Arts, which kicks off March 17.

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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