Guatemala: Acción Poética Xela, the writing is on the wall

At the beginning of 2014 , I spent 3 months living and working in Guatemala’s second-biggest city, Quetzaltenango, otherwise known by it’s indigenous name of Xelajú, or more commonly, just Xela.

Walking around the city’s quiet backstreets, intensely lost thanks to the extremely logical but highly confusing street numbering system, I kept finding hidden messages written on the walls. Unlike other types of graffiti I had seen around town, they didn’t seem to have any political or practical message, they were just there to entertain, to comfort, to make a connection. None of them were more than a sentence long, they were all around the theme of love, and underneath nearly all of them was the same phrase: Acción Poética.

Started in the mid-90s, by the poet Armando Alanis Pulido, Acción Poética was an attempt to bring poetry to the streets of Monterrey, Mexico, and has since then spread to other countries within Latin America.

You can see more examples of Acción Poética’s beautiful work on the movement’s official website or follow them on Twitter, (where their profile states: “If our lips don’t whisper, then may our walls shout!”).

During my final weekend I ran around trying to photograph all the phrases I had found over the past few months, but I think in the end I only tracked down about half of them. Maybe in order to find them, first you have to get genuinely lost.

Even the walls know that I love you.

Even the walls know that I love you.

Accion Poetica Guatemala Xela Quetzaltenango Graffiti Wall Street Art

While nothing can save us from death, at least love saves us from life.

Accion Poetica Guatemala Xela Quetzaltenango Graffiti Wall Street Art

I use up so many walls remembering you.

Accion Poetica Guatemala Xela Quetzaltenango Graffiti Wall Street Art

I love you. Whether you read this today or tomorrow, that won’t change.

Accion Poetica Guatemala Xela Quetzaltenango Graffiti Wall Street Art