poetry mapping

July 22, 2019

We’ve posted before on the subject of poetry maps. A new project, Places of Poetry, “aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales, celebrating the diversity, heritage and personalities of place.”

The Places of Poetry map has a distinctive 17th-century look, until you operate the slider at the bottom of the page, which turns it into a zoomable, contemporary Ordnance Survey map.

The site is open for writers to pin their poems (in English and/or Welsh) to places until October 4, 2019. It will then be closed for new poems but will remain available for readers.

There’s already plenty to keep you busy on the map. (It doesn’t look like so much until you start zooming and more and more places pop up.) Enjoy!

We’ve mentioned the Emergency Poet a number of times, so it’s delightful to report that Deborah Alma continues to provide poetic first aid to the world-weary and heart-worn in communities all around England.

What’s more, Deborah and her collaborator, James Sheard, are now planning to open The World’s First Poetry Pharmacy. They’ve selected “a closed-down, dusty Edwardian ironmonger’s shop” in Shropshire, in the West Midlands, and plan to build a traditional (poetry-) dispensing pharmacy with space for workshops, performances, cafe, shop, and, of course, a consulting room in which the pharmacist and patient can discuss conditions and treatments.

Learn more about the Poetry Pharmacy and, if you’re so inclined pitch in your support, on The World’s First Poetry Pharmacy Kickstarter page.

And lest you should be unable to visit in person, we would remind you that Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz are dispensing weekly prescriptions at The Paris Review: Poetry Rx.

next time you’re in London

December 15, 2018

It has been a few years since we mentioned the National Poetry Library in London. Founded in 1953, the library moved its expanded collection to the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre in 1988, with Seamus Heaney presiding over the grand opening.

The library posts daily poems, has a free online poem collection and catalogue, assists with “lost quote” requests, has a collection of over 2,000 audio recordings, about 2,000 postcards and poem cards, some 1,500 posters, year-round events and exhibitions, and an online listing of poetry competitions.

The National Poetry Library is the largest public collection of modern poetry in the world, is open six days a week, and is free to visit.

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photo by Gapfall

signs of peace

November 16, 2018

We’ve mentioned the poet/artist Robert Montgomery a couple of times before (here and here) and are happy to see that he has launched a new project, Paper Peace.
Created with outdoor arts company Emergency Exit Arts, Paper Peace is an illuminated mobile billboard that will travel through England for a full year beginning on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day. Along the way, the team will gather stories, pledges, and poems of peace for a National Peace Archive.

In addition, through the Paper Peace Young Producers program, “48 people across the country aged 18 to 25 will receive training from arts practitioners and museum experts in curatorial and event production, learning to interpret a variety of historical sources from the past century and connecting with peace building heritage in their local area. The Young Producers will collaborate with professional artists to help realise their ideas and create a series of artworks that will form part of the Paper Peace finale events in autumn 2019.”

Read more about Paper Peace.

meanwhile, in the UK

June 5, 2018

The First World War ended one hundred years ago this year. To mark the occasion, the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre launched a national poetry competition: “Inspired by the war’s famous poets, we sought poetry that honoured those affected by service and paid tribute to humankind’s capacity to cope with adversity.”

They received five thousand submissions.

The judges selected a long list of 25 poems, then narrowed that down to a short list of five. The final selection is by popular vote. You can read the poems, hear/watch them read on video, and vote for your favorite at A Poem to Remember.

Creative tourist owl

A poet, a literary scholar, a climate change scientist and an ornithologist walk into a bar…

No. Wait. Not a joke, but a panel discussion: Migratory Birds: Poetry and Perceptions of Climate Change, taking place at Manchester University on Thursday, June 30, 2016.

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public poetry

April 1, 2016

Google Poetrics

Talk about crowd-sourcing! At the new Google facility under construction at King’s Cross, London, Poetrics is an interactive installation that translates voices into poetry. Three motion-activated microphones pick up voices and use Google’s speech recognition software to interpret the words, which are then displayed on a series of 17 LED panels. (The panels are arranged in three lines of 5, 7, and 5 words — not syllables — although the designers say that they were inspired by haiku.*) See more pictures and see the report on ITV news.
*For the down and dirty on 5-7-5, see this explanation.

another poetry walk

March 31, 2016

Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge

We’ve mentioned the artist Gordon Young before. His large-scale public art projects often incorporate words or poetry. Here’s another.

Bird Stones is an installation at Mill Road Cemetery in Cambridge, England. Each of the seven pieces is engraved with a poem about a bird that frequents the cemetery and a description of the bird’s call. The standing stone sculptures are also designed to serve as perch, shelter and water source. “House Sparrow,” above, includes a bible inscription and a poem by Andrew Motion.

if not poetry, poetic…

December 27, 2014

Millennium Bridge Subway, Carlisle, England

The Cursing Stone is a 14-ton granite boulder that resides in a subway beneath the Millennium Bridge that connects Tullie House Museum with Carlisle Castle, in Carlisle, England.

Here’s a bit of history that helps explain the stone: “The Border Reivers were gangs of horsemen who raided those parts of England and Scotland within a day’s ride of the border between the two countries from around 1300 to 1600. Reivers stole cattle, sheep and horses, and were even known to hire themselves out as mercenaries.” (Education Scotland) In 1525, hoping to end the reign of terror, the Archbishop of Glasgow put a curse on the Boarder Reiver families; the curse was spoken at parishes throughout the region.

In 2001, artist Gordon Young, in a collaboration with Why Not Associates, inscribed the 1,069-word curse on the stone and it was installed on a pathway that contains the names of all the Boarder Reiver families. Almost as soon as it was installed, it was blamed for numerous local disasters, including the spread of hoof and mouth disease, but after a council vote in 2005 was saved from destruction and remains on view.

The artist is descended from a Border Reiver family and that heritage led to his interest in the curse. (See also: Young’s beautiful poetry walk, A Flock of Words and other collaborations with Why Not Associates, including Walk of Art.)
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Cursing Stone photo

Roman roads in Britannia

“Walking can animate the body and senses in a way conducive to poetry’s wandering alertness, moving through things, looking around — purpose without system.” Robert Pinsky

Britain is criss-crossed by a web of roads established by the Romans. One of them, now known as Watling Street, runs from Wroxeter (in Shropshire, the site of the fourth-largest Roman capital, Viroconium Cornoviorum) southeast for some 200 miles to Dover. The road between London and Canterbury follows a 50-mile course near the eastern end of Watling Street.

Dan Simpson, Poet-in-Residence at Canterbury Roman Museum, recently completed a five-day walk along that 50-mile section, visiting museums and historic sites along the way and documenting his journey with photographs, notes and poems. You can see the record of his journey, and some of his poems, on Canterbury Roman Museum Residency.

For an unrelated but intriguing Dan Simpson project, visit Crowdsourced Poetry.
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Roman Roads in Britannia

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