Bring Poetry to People: Love, Peace and App-iness

Image shows a traffic sign from the Cheltenham Literary Festival, photo by Cathederal City Guide 

Recently we interviewed poet and activist Michael Horovitz to start a debate on how to bring poetry to people. Chris Meade from if:book rounds up a few of his favourite responses.

There’s been some lively debate on the site about how to make poetry happen in the 21st Century, inspired by the example of Michael Horovitz and friends in the 1960s. This is a challenge and every National Poetry Day hundreds of stunts are held to grab new audiences and win converts to poetry.

Yazir recommended the replacing the word ‘poetry’ with a new term – like ‘floating phrases’. “If I say to you we should have meetings about developing lasting relationships most people will be turned off. If I say we should have sex seminars how many people do you think would attend? Same thing applies with poetry.” Personally I think you have to change attitudes to the original word rather than pretend you’re doing something else.  But it seems to me better and easier to shift attitudes to the original word than to try and invent a new one.

Tatjama Mandil was the first to recommend poetry graffiti – an interesting if controversial idea:  “Instead of writing rude comments in graffiti and ruining a scene, turn it into poetry so everyone can take pleasure in it …using words as paint.”

I liked James Martin’s radicalism: “Poetry in the modern world is anarchy. Don’t force it if you aren’t going to put everything into it. All that said, if there’s a single place left in Britain where a poet can read their work in its’ purest form, then I’ve yet to know of it.”

Poetry flashmobs have been tried before – not least by Judith Palmer at the Poetry Society I believe – but AJ’s idea for them is exciting.

“Poetry flashmobs! Starting with one person in a busy area (with some kind of discrete radio mic on) saying the first words, the poem getting passed on to other flash mobbers and then in chorus with more people joining in etc etc. Have them filmed and put on youtube so they can go viral.”

Maddie waxes poetical: “We need street corners with people reciting, we need spontaneous group performances in the park, we need colourful flyers with the promise of a vibrant night, we need colour, we need energy, and we need surprise.

Gabby points us to the extreme poetry wars of ‘Don’t Flop’  to be found on YouTube.

Pranita’s thoughtful post offers a recipe for spreading the poetry love:

1. Praise
2. Poetic devices
3. Correlate to something they like
4. Add humor (limericks)
5. Short composition
6. Make videos

I loved the sparkiness, invention and ambition of all the comments which bode well for the spirit of poetry in the years ahead. Thanks and do keep them coming. 

But I’ve awarded notebooks to two posts, both short but sweet, one very Sixties, the other very 2012:

Jack Little’s poetic big idea sounds like a poem by John Lennon and Yoko Ono 

“We should project a poem onto the moon for all the world to see. Different poems from different cultures for everyday of the year… something to make you smile and bring peace to the heart. “

Finally Ruby’s thought could just lead to the next big thing in apps and sweep around the global village. You read it here first, folks.

“I think there should be an app for android phones, like the app ‘draw something’ called ‘rhyme something’- where you have to rhyme words and create big poems with strangers around the world.”

We’ll be contacting Jack and Ruby to send them their Young Poet Network notebooks as prizes. If you have more ideas you would like to add post them below.

Published June, 2012

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