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A Unique Poetry Project Indeed: Places of Poetry

Like last year, I have discovered (a day late this time) that U is certainly a tough letter to come up with something for poetry. Which is why, I ended up trying to work around the word unique, and finally landed upon a unique project indeed: Places of Poetry!! This could have very well been apt for the letter T for we could consider the project itself to be a series of real-life topographical poems; but I am glad I did not chance upon it as I researched T… for it is definitely unique.. Unless one of you know something similar elsewhere? Then I would love for you to share it with me in the comments.

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A Unique Poetry Project Indeed: Places of Poetry

A Unique Project Indeed: Places of Poetry

Have you heard about this project before? Places of Poetry? It is pretty cool. Like I mentioned, I chanced upon it looking for something unique; though looking back, I am not sure what chain of search keywords led me to it in the end. However, I learned a few other things on the way.

One: that there is something called topographical poetry; and that it is a genre of poetry that describes, and often praises, a landscape or place. And a subgenre, the prospect poem, details the view from a height. So maybe it is a poem you could think up looking down from the window of a plane (when we finally do travel at the end of this); or for now, when you climb up a hill at the least, or a window of a high-rise.

Two: the Poly-Olbion, by Michael Drayton, is a topographical poem describing England and Wales.  Drayton wrote it over the course of many years. Thirty songs, 15,000 lines written in couplets, and each song describes between one and three counties, describing their topography, traditions and histories. William Hole, an English engraver of the time, illustrated the book with maps of each county. These maps, while lacking specificity, were highly decorative and iconographic.

Three: well, can’t think of anything right now..

And now, about the

Unique Poetry Project : Places of Poetry

Here is what the Poetry Society of UK says about this:

Places of Poetry was a community arts project, centred on a digital map of England and Wales. The project was led by poet Paul Farley and the academic Andrew McRae from the Universities of Lancaster and Exeter, with The Poetry Society as its proud partner. Throughout the summer of 2019, writers from across the country were invited to write new poems of place, heritage and identity, and pin them to the map.

And the project itself, was inspired by Drayton’s Poly-Olbion. William Hole’s beautiful maps from the book were redrawn to fit over the modern Ordnance Survey map. Efforts were made to retain the look and feel of the original maps though some features had to be left out to better fit the purposes of a digital Places of Poetry.

In the summer of 2019, writers from all over were invited to take inspiration from places (like Wordsworth, Keats, and many before have been), and to pin their poems to those places of inspiration. The poems could either be something they wrote, or a favorite poem of theirs (as long as it was out of copyright).

Places of Poetry did reopen for submissions for a brief period in October 2020 as well. And there might be future enhancements and chances for entries for those who want to add their mark on this wonderful map.

Today, while the project is closed to new entries, it is open to all for reading and exploring. So head on over there, zoom down to any one of the multitude of pins on this beautiful virtual vintage map, and read poems of places in the the various Places of Poetry.

Here is one of the random pinned poems I read last (see if you can find it on the map!)

So, a short overview of this unique poetry project

  • Inspired by Michael Drayton’s topographical book Poly-Olbion
  • Vintage maps by William Hole redrawn to fit modern maps (while retaining original look and feel to the extent possible)
  • Writers of all ages and backgrounds were invited to pin their poems to places from 31st May to 31 October 2019; to be able to gather varied perspectives on the places and histories of England and Wales. Note that PoP reopened for a brief period for new submissions in October 2020.
  • The rules for the poems themselves: Poems were to be up to 40 lines (not the 15,000 lines of Drayton’s work, thankfully!!!); and could be original works, or favorite poems about those places (as long as they were out of copyright). About the places themselves, or the writers feelings about their neighborhood, the idea of belonging, stories about it, or anything else that they could relate to the place.
  • Poems pinned to the map. There were over 7500 entries in the initial 2019 submission period.
  • Readers can explore the map, zoom into any place, click on the pinned poems and enjoy them. They can also search for poems by keywords.
h/t, References, Further Reading, and Watching

Today’s Book

Up Verses Down

Book Info

Title: Up Verses Down: Poems, Paintings, and Serious Nonsense
Author/Illustrator: Calef Brown
Length: 80 pages
Genre: Children’s Poetry (5 – 9 years)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (June 18, 2019)
Source: Library copy

Description: Enter the delightful world of this long-format picture book poetry collection from #1 New York Times-bestselling creator Calef Brown.

My Thoughts

So I love, love, love word play; no wonder this book’s title immediately grabbed my attention!! Once I started reading it, I could not stop.. And when I was done, I read it all over again! I could have repeated that but for the fact that I had to write this review 🙂 I was left wondering how I missed reading Calef Brown before this.

From the very start with the clever INTRO, to the uniquely different OUTRO (not an intro!) toward the end of the book, Brown offers readers serious nonsense indeed. As he states at the start, “The poems within, they widely range / from purely fun to very strange. / From ordinary reality / to total nonsensecality, /…..”

Picking a favorite from this compendium of “nons(erious)ense” is not an easy task, and hence not one I will attempt. There is wonderful variety across the poems in rhyme, rhythm, tone, and subjects; and yes, of course in the totally quirky and colorfully appealing artwork too.

So once again, I wonder how I missed this wonderfully nonsensical-serious-talented poet before; but I am so so awfully glad I discovered him now. How can I not enjoy a poet who versifies of his family tree with “It may not be gorgeous, /my family tree, /but I love all the leaves – /they look perfect to me.” ; and then proceeds to write about “Borscht” with the lines “This poem is the worscht. / The rhymes are forscht”

In Summary

For lovers of nonsense, silliness, sweetness, and playfulness; readers, writers, poets, and artists; and for young ones, and young ones at heart, for the old ones too; in short, for everyoneeverywhere!

Get It Here

Amazon  || Barnes and Noble || Book Depository || BookShop || IndieBound 

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And Now, the End of This Post

Dear reader, as always, and always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions, as well as recommendations. Have you read the featured books or any similar reads? 

The AtoZ Challenges

Linking to both the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge and the BlogchatterA2Z-2021 

You can find all my A2Z Challenge Posts here.

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