When it comes to poems inspired by a certain area or landscape, that have a story to tell about that spot, being able to connect the poem to its place adds an extra, vital dimension. I often go on walks with a site-specific poem in my pocket. I’ve taken U A Fanthorpe’s ‘Stanton Drew’ to the eponymous stone circles south of Bristol, and, as she urges, listened to the past’s long pulse. I’ve sat on Ted Hughes’ memorial stone near Taw Head on Dartmoor to recover from all the tussock-jumping required to get there and read aloud his wonderful litany, ‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’. I’ve wept over Eliot’s Four Quartets in East Coker churchyard.
Stanton Drew stone circles
Then there are the poems we write ourselves. It has be be said that going around sellotaping poems to lamp posts and telegraph poles isn’t practical. But now you can pin them to an online map of England and Wales, which is another, less polluting way of letting them take their place in the world.
Places of Poetry is led by poet Paul Farley and Professor Andrew McRae. The project is open to readers and writers of all ages and backgrounds, with the aim of prompting reflection on national and cultural identities in England and Wales through creative writing. Writers are invited to pin their poems to places on the map from 31st May to 4th October 2019, after which date it will be closed to new poems but remain available for readers.
The site will also contain news about events and activities to promote the project and generate new writing. You can also follow Places of Poetry via social media (@placesofpoetry).
Places of Poetry is based at Lancaster and Exeter Universities, and funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England.
Ted the border collie at Ted Hughes’ memorial stone, Dartmoor