Kelly Schirmann: What is public space?


The public is anyone I could conceivably meet. They let me look at them freely while they are walking or eating lunch. They let me think thoughts about them like COAT or MOTHER. I am the public to the public as well. We are the cave walls for each other’s echoes & we are permitted to yell what we want.

The privates stay in their private spaces & both control exchange. There are gates there, & a specific sky. In the private spaces, every body has been solicited. If they are walking or eating lunch it is on television, or with permission, or from behind a kind of fence. The fence is created for you to think a specific thought. It is built from the way you feel about there being a fence in the first place.

The public space is anywhere the public could conceivably go, & me too. I walk through the public spaces, eating my lunch. The public spaces hold me inside them, my sandwich & shoes & direction. My hello & angry face. The public space invites me to think thoughts about it, & I do. I think BENCH or POWER or SAFE. I think BEAUTIFUL & these are the spaces I like the most. I think BEAUTIFUL & I sit in the beauty & it rubs off on me, the public. I think BEAUTIFUL & I feel much better that this is a place we could all conceivably sit.


KELLY SCHIRMANN is the co-author of Nature Machine (Poor Claudia) & half of the band Young Family, whose second EP will be released from Spork Press this year. She lives, writes, sings, & makes in Portland, Oregon.

Posted: December 18th, 2013
Categories: What is Public Space?
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