“The Wall” by Molly Glynn
March 13, 2017 § 1 Comment
the day he was assassinated, a Prague citizen painted on one white wall an image of John Lennon, a pacifist icon and “hero to the youth of Prague” (Prague.net). The wall stood opposite the French Embassy, including a niche that is reminiscent of a tombstone. Prague’s secret police quickly painted over the illegal Western symbol, but it was too late. What had once been an ordinary wall became a message board for gripes, grievances, and symbols of hope. In true Czech fashion, it was a quiet but powerful symbol of protest, persisting through coats upon coats of white paint, as applied by those in power (Lonely Planet, Geiling, Wikipedia).
ones interested in keeping the wall clean. The wall belongs to the Knights of Malta, a Catholic order dedicated to the Maltese Cross. Initially, they also attempted to keep the wall clear. They made several attempts to repaint the wall, but it continued to flourish, and eventually they allowed the space to remain. They even protect against cases of vandalism, having claimed a sort of guardianship for the wall (Lonely Planet, Chandler).
The morning of November 17th, 2014, the wall was white once again. In the dead of night, a group of student artists known as Pražská služba had cleared the years of color and left a blank wall adorned with the words “Wall is Over,” a reference to Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s 1971 song Happy X-Mas (War Is Over). It was a cause of shock for the city, and many were outraged at the apparent censorship. The artists, or as some considered them, vandals, released a statement explaining they were attempting to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution by “opening room for new messages of the current generation” (Chandler). The attention-grabbing attempt to ‘re-set’ the wall remained only hours before new drawings, messages, and names were penned and painted over the white (Geiling, Chandler).
Today, the Lennon wall continues to be a symbol of love and peace. Locals and tourists alike find themselves enraptured by the plethora of colors and messages, but the true beauty of the Lennon wall is its ability to stay “consistently new and current” (Looft). This is due in large part to its redecoration by wellwishers and activists. When the wall first began, it was for activists speaking out against Communism. In the years after, countless other groups and advocates have shown their support for the tragedies and revolutions around the world. In 2013, after the Boston Marathon bombings, messages of hope and support were added. In 2014, a Lennon-inspired wall composed of colorful sticky notes was created in Hong Kong, and supportive messages were added to the wall in Prague (Looft, Wikipedia, Chandler).
The Lennon wall is also important because it remains accessible to anyone and everyone. It does not sit in a museum, with security guards and a million-dollar price tag. Nor is it a temporary installation, created in chalk and wheeled away after six months. The wall is there to stay, and it is open to children’s drawings and professional poets’ words. It is a symbol of Prague as a whole- past and present. Beneath layers of paint, and so many attempts at destruction, it remains. Even after so many attempts to censor its message, still it grows back stronger each time. The Lennon Wall belongs wholly and inherently to the people, a gift from those who claimed it so many years ago (Looft).
Process Note: I looked back on an old paper I had written about the Lennon wall, and took some of the lines from that. For evidence that it is indeed, a real paper and not just a bunch of black lines with words I wanted thrown in, I’ve kept the original text just slightly visible. I also think that punctuation is really important in blackout poems, so I’ve found that blocking out where some prime periods and commas are can also be really, really helpful! –Molly Glynn